Stanford boffin is first woman to bag 'math Nobel Prize'

Maryam Mirzakhani's work on doughnuts and spheres wins Fields Medal

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Iranian academic Maryam Mirzakhani is today the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Fields Medal, known as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics”.

Mirzakhani, a professor of maths at Stanford University, landed the top gong for her work on the symmetry of curved surfaces. You can all about her research, right here [PDF].

"This is a great honour,” she said in a statement. “I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

Mirzakhani’s work in geometry and dynamical systems, particularly on the symmetry of curved surfaces like spheres, doughnuts and hyperbolic objects, is mostly theoretical, but has implications for physics and quantum field theory, Stanford explained.

"Research into these areas does have unexpected applications, but that isn't what motivates mathematicians like Maryam to pursue it. Rather, the motivation is to understand, as deeply as possible, these basic mathematical structures," said Ralph Cohen, a professor of mathematics and the senior associate dean for the natural sciences in Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences. "Maryam's work really is an outstanding example of curiosity-driven research."

Mirzakhani first became known in the international mathematics community as a teenager when she won gold medals in the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads, finishing with a perfect score the second time round. Although she originally wanted to become a writer, her proficiency in maths steered her in that direction.

She earned her degree from the Sharif University of Technology in 1999 and her doctorate from Harvard University under the tutelage of Fields Medal winner Curtis McMullen.

Three other mathematicians won Fields Medals this year, including Artur Avila for work in dynamical systems theory; Manjul Bhargava for developing new methods in the geometry of numbers; and Martin Hairer, who was awarded the medal for contributions to the theory of stochastic partial differential equations.

The awards were established in 1936, and its prizes include a medal stamped with the head of Archimedes and an £8,000 payout. This year's gongs were handed out at a ceremony in Seoul. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story


Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.