Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman and Iranian to win the prestigious Fields Medal, has died:

Nearly three years after she became the first woman to win math's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, Maryam Mirzakhani has died of breast cancer at age 40. Her death was confirmed Saturday by Stanford University, where Mirzakhani had been a professor since 2008.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and a daughter, Anahita — who once referred to her mother's work as "painting," because of the doodles and drawings that marked her process of working on proofs and problems, according to an obituary released by Stanford.

From Wikipedia:

Mirzakhani has made several contributions to the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces. In her early work, Mirzakhani discovered a formula expressing the volume of a moduli space with a given genus as a polynomial in the number of boundary components. This led her to obtain a new proof for the formula discovered by Edward Witten and Maxim Kontsevich on the intersection numbers of tautological classes on moduli space, as well as an asymptotic formula for the growth of the number of simple closed geodesics on a compact hyperbolic surface, generalizing the theorem of the three geodesics for spherical surfaces. Her subsequent work has focused on Teichmüller dynamics of moduli space. In particular, she was able to prove the long-standing conjecture that William Thurston's earthquake flow on Teichmüller space is ergodic.

Most recently as of 2014, with Alex Eskin and with input from Amir Mohammadi, Mirzakhani proved that complex geodesics and their closures in moduli space are surprisingly regular, rather than irregular or fractal. The closures of complex geodesics are algebraic objects defined in terms of polynomials and therefore they have certain rigidity properties, which is analogous to a celebrated result that Marina Ratner arrived at during the 1990s. The International Mathematical Union said in its press release that, "It is astounding to find that the rigidity in homogeneous spaces has an echo in the inhomogeneous world of moduli space."

Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal in 2014 for "her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces".

Also at BBC, Stanford, Newsweek, and PressTV.

**16**comments | Search Discussion

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## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 16, @03:02PM

*Fields medal

Please fix and mod this down.

## (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday July 16, @03:44PM (3 children)

Errm...well, yes, in a way. [nature.com]

Though she would look a lot less like a man with longer hair and could also use some lipstick and mascara.

## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 16, @04:08PM

Our hair stops growing when we die. [bbc.com]

Parent## (Score: 3, Insightful) by jimtheowl on Sunday July 16, @07:58PM

Parent## (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday July 17, @02:04AM

Sure, Eth, because appearance and desirability are the most important traits for a mathematician to have. That's why Stephen Hawking ain't shit. ...oh, wait.

Parent## (Score: 2) by unauthorized on Sunday July 16, @04:02PM (1 child)

"Great mathematician dies, identarian politicians waste no time to whore out her identity."

## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 16, @06:43PM

For some of us with young daughters, she is an existence proof.

Parent## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 16, @05:59PM (6 children)

how do you get breast cancer from doing math?

you know, i kindda understand certain correlations, like ...uhm... people that drink alot (of alcohol) get problems with their livers.

people that inhale bad stuff get problems with their lungs. people with alot of sun exposure get problems with their skin. etc.

but i am at lose about this breast cancer stuff?

## (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Sunday July 16, @07:54PM (1 child)

But just in case you are now worried that it was from winning the Fields Medal, there is no need to. You are nowhere likely to ever get one.

Parent## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, @09:24AM

Well i hope you got a proof for that.

Anyways, having a fields medal is probably worse then having a facebook account on a win X computer for you privacy...

Parent## (Score: 2, Interesting) by pdfernhout on Sunday July 16, @08:04PM

"how do you get breast cancer from doing math?"

http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20110429/low-vitamin-d-linked-to-aggressive-breast-cancer#1 [webmd.com]

"Women with low vitamin D levels may have an increased risk for the most aggressive breast cancers, new research suggests."

As speculation, extra stress from being a woman in a male-dominated profession perhaps might also have decreased her immune system functioning too or led to other problematical coping strategies?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037818/ [nih.gov]

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet [cancer.gov]

Anyway, sorry for the loss to her family, and wishing them well in a difficult time.

Parent## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 16, @08:24PM (1 child)

risk factors for breast cancer include "female, obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, ionizing radiation, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all, older age, family history", diet, exposure to solvents and exposure to light. [wikipedia.org] Doing maths is largely a sedentary activity, so there's truth in your thought that it could have put her at risk.

Parent## (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Sunday July 16, @08:55PM

It looked to me like she was in great shape based on the photos I've seen thus far.

If we could tax people’s whining, we’d never have a budget shortfall again…

Parent## (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, @01:33AM

I wonder if the f**ked up medical system in California had anything to do with her death? Based on the care that my father-in-law received for heart problems last year (snow bird--he was in Palm Springs), he would have probably been better served in Iran.

Parent## (Score: 3, Informative) by Yog-Yogguth on Monday July 17, @02:30AM (1 child)

If people don't understand what she worked on they won't have any reason to respect neither the mathematics nor her.

So I wanted to change that a little even though I don't care if she was female any more than I care that Erdōs was male or a drug addict (and I have no idea what he died of either, I do not think he overdosed on his dear amphetamines).

Math is made harder than it actually is when it isn't actually explained. It's still plenty hard (or impossibly hard for me in most cases) even afterwards but at least it can be made understandable to just about anybody when it is explained.

If you're like me (interested in mathematics) and you read the summary and recognized the words but perhaps not much else then this link [matific.com] is to an image explaining the general topic.

Since what is mostly plain text is unfortunately in the form of an image I've written it up into the text below with some changes. Most of the drawings in the image were unnecessary but I've described one.

I'm sometimes in a haphazard, lackadaisical, and wasteful manner and whenever I can spare the time and effort fidgeting with an unsolved 3-dimensional geometry question (the next Szilassi polyhedron, a solid with six holes, the guy isn't even dead yet but it's interesting to me and thus fun even though I'm unlikely to ever make it work and life and the world interferes way too much), a problem which is almost directly related to the mathematical topic and I didn't even realize it before trying to find a more easy to digest explanation of the area she was working on.

All errors are mine :)

Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))

## (Score: 2) by Yog-Yogguth on Monday July 17, @02:43AM

One error I see now is that I mistakenly wrote

"If a geodesic curve forms a closed loop it is called a closed geometric curve."

which should instead be

"If a geodesic curve forms a closed loop it is called a closed geodesic curve."

Easy mistake to make.

I should also point out the obvious: the little explanation above isn't an explanation of her work, it's only an explanation of the general topic of a little bit of her work.

I could also throw in a link to the (first) Szilassi polyhedron [wikipedia.org], someone (very likely not me) will find the next one or alternatively prove that it is impossible but who knows how long it may take.

Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))

Parent