Maryam Mirzakhani passes

The Intrepid Mathematician

There was sad news today: Maryam Mirzakhani passed away at the age of 40 from breast cancer. Mirzakhani worked on geometry in a very modern sense, focusing on the fields of hyperbolic geometry and the geometry and dynamics of Riemann surfaces. She was best known for winning the Fields Medal in 2014, sometimes called the Nobel Prize for mathematics, and she was the first woman in history to win that award.

Mirzakhani became a role model to young women and men in mathematics and STEM. Mirzakhani is survived by her husband Jan Vondrák and her daughter Anahita. My condolences on their loss.

I’ll close with a few inspiring words from her interview with the Clay Institute:

“I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle school; I was just not interested in thinking about it. I can see that without being excited mathematics can look pointless and cold. The…

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"The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. " G H Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).

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