First woman to win highest math award dies at 40

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The quadrennial Fields Medal, which Mirzakhani won in 2014, is the most prestigious award in mathematics, often equated in stature with the Nobel Prize.

Award-winning Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has reportedly passed away due to cancer at a hospital in the United States.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977 and brought up in the Islamic Republic.

Her educational qualifications boasted of a PhD at the Harvard University in 2004, and later a professorship at Stanford.

She received the Fields Medal in 2014 for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.

The award was established in 1936.

Friend Firouz Naderi announced Mirzakhani's death on Saturday on Instagram and relatives subsequently confirmed her death to the Mehr agency in Iran. "Gone far too soon", he wrote.

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Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said: "Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science". "Maryam was a brilliant mathematical theorist, and also a humble person who accepted honors only with the hope that it might encourage others to follow her path".

Early in her life, Mirzakhani had wanted to be a writer.

At the time she was praised for the stunning advances she had made in some of the most complicated areas of the mathematics. She then taught at Princeton University before moving to Stanford in 2008.

Mirzakhani, who described herself as a slow mathematician, was drawn to big, hard questions in her field, a trait that made her a revered figure within the mathematics community.

She became a professor at Stanford University in 2008.

Mirzakhani enjoyed pure mathematics because of its "elegance and longevity", she said.

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.

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