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Maryam Mirzakhani : The First Woman to Win Fields Medal in Mathematics Equivalent of Nobel Prize Dies

Maryam Mirzakhani died of breast cancer at the age of 40

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Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics, in 2014. Source: (VOA)
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  • Maryam Mirzakhani was the only woman to win mathematics equivalent of Nobel Prize
  • She died on Saturday as she was battling breast cancer
  • She was born in Iran and joined Stanford University in 2008 as a mathematics professor

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Stanford University professor who was the first and only woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics, has died. She was 40.

Mirzakhani, who battled breast cancer, died Saturday, the university announced. It did not indicate where she died.

In 2014, Mirzakhani was one of four winners of the Fields Medal, which is presented every four years and is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize. She was named for her work on complex geometry and dynamic systems.

Also read: A Look Back In History: Contribution of Indian Mathematicians in the field of Mathematics

“Mirzakhani specialized in theoretical mathematics that read like a foreign language by those outside of mathematics: moduli spaces, Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic theory and symplectic geometry,” according to the Stanford press announcement. “Mastering these approaches allowed Mirzakhani to pursue her fascination for describing the geometric and dynamic complexities of curved surfaces — spheres, doughnut shapes and even amoebas — in as great detail as possible.”

The work had implications in fields ranging from cryptography to “the theoretical physics of how the universe came to exist,” the university said.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran, and studied there and at Harvard University. She joined Stanford as a mathematics professor in 2008.

‘Heart-rending’ loss

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement Saturday praising Mirzakhani. “The grievous passing of Maryam Mirzakhani, the eminent Iranian and world-renowned mathematician, is very much heart-rending,” Rouhani said in a message that was reported by the Tehran Times.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said her death pained all Iranians, the Tehran Times reported.

“The news of young Iranian genius and math professor Maryam Mirzakhani’s passing has brought a deep pang of sorrow to me and all Iranians who are proud of their eminent and distinguished scientists,” Zarif posted in Farsi on his Instagram account. “I do offer my heartfelt condolences upon the passing of this lady scientist to all Iranians worldwide, her grieving family and the scientific community.”

Mirzakhani originally dreamed of becoming a writer but then shifted to mathematics.

When she was working, Mirzakhani would doodle on sheets of paper and scribble formulas on the edges of her drawings, leading her daughter to describe the work as painting, according to the Stanford statement.

Mirzakhani once described her work as “like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck, you might find a way out.”

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne called Mirzakhani a brilliant theorist who made enduring contributions and inspired thousands of women to pursue math and science.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and daughter, Anahita. (VOA)

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Here’s How Exercise Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors

Among those who completed the program, those who received the lifestyle intervention were about 50 per cent more likely to have disease-free survival than those who received the general recommendations

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How exercise can help breast cancer survivors. Pixabay

Survivors of early-stage breast cancer who exercise and eat a healthy diet are more likely to lose weight and experience higher rates of disease-free survival, a new study suggests.

The research is based on an examination of a lifestyle intervention that included exercise, diet, and at least one other component such as counselling, stress management, and discontinuing tobacco smoking.

The study showed that obesity and low physical activity are associated with higher risks of developing breast cancer, as well as an increased risk of recurrence and reduced survival.

“Lifestyle intervention might improve the prognosis of breast cancer patients if adherence is high,” said Wolfgang Janni from the University of Ulm in Germany.

“Many breast cancer survivors would like to contribute actively to improving their prognosis, and guiding them on lifestyle factors that can help them control weight is one possible way to positively impact patient outcomes,” said Janni.

For the study, the researchers enrolled 2,292 women among which all had a body mass index of 24 or higher.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

Some women were randomly assigned to receive either telephone-based lifestyle intervention for two years while others received general recommendations for a healthy lifestyle alone.

Those who received the telephone calls were given advice on how to improve their diets, lower fat intake, increase physical activity, achieve moderate weight loss and other tips that were geared to their specific needs.

Findings, presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in the US, demonstrated that patients in the lifestyle intervention arm had lost an average of one kg, while the patients in the control group had gained an average of 0.95 kg.

Also Read- Amazon India May Host Online Shopping Event For SMBs

Overall, 1,477 patients completed the lifestyle intervention. Those who completed the program had a 35 per cent higher rate of disease-free survival than those who began the program but did not complete it.

Among those who completed the program, those who received the lifestyle intervention were about 50 per cent more likely to have disease-free survival than those who received the general recommendations. (IANS)