Iranian-born Stanford professor becomes the first woman to win ‘Nobel Prize of Math’

August 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani awarded in Seoul

Maryam Mirzakhani (Yonhap)

Iranian-born Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the prize established in 1936. (Yonhap)

(Yonhap) — A woman was awarded for the first time with a prestigious math medal at an international conference of mathematicians that opened in Seoul on Wednesday.

The International Mathematical Union (IMU), a global body which promotes cooperation in mathematics, said it picked four winners for its Fields Medal, including Iranian-born Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani, who is the first woman to win the prize established in 1936.

The award, given to promising mathematics scholars under 40, is regarded as an equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the academic community.

The awardees were announced at the opening ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which will run through Aug. 21 in Seoul. Some 5,000 visitors from 120 countries will participate in the event, referred to as the Math Olympics.

Other winners include Artur Avila, who is the first winner to have earned a doctorate degree outside the United States or Europe. Avila received his doctorate in Brazil in 2001. Manjul Bhargava, a professor at Princeton University, and Martin Hairer from Britain’s Warwick University were also recognized.

The Fields Medal is given to only four scholars at most at each ICM, which is held every four years. Winners receive a gold medal worth 5,500 Canadian dollars (US$5,026) and a cash award of 15,000 Canadian dollars.

The IMU also announced winners of other prizes, with Subhash Khot from New York University winning the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, which is given to those under 40 who have made “contributions in the mathematical aspects of information science.”

The Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize, which aims to “honor scientists whose mathematical research has had an impact outside mathematics,” went to Stanley Osher from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Phillip Griffiths from Princeton University was the winner of the Chern Medal, awarded to those who have made contributions to the mathematical realm regardless of age or occupation.

The Leelavati Prize, which recognizes “contributions for increasing the public awareness of mathematics,” went to Argentinian professor Adrian Paenza.

Held every four years since 1900, the ICM aims to provide a venue where participants can discuss mathematical achievements and find ways to develop the academic realm for the future.

It marks the fourth time for an Asian country to host the event. In 2010, the ICM was held in India. Japan and China hosted the event in 1990 and 2002, respectively.


  1. Sameen Ahmed Khan

    September 17, 2014 at 3:46 AM

    Heartiest Congratulations!

    With warm regards + best wishes

    Sameen Ahmed KHAN
    Engineering Department
    Salalah College of Technology,
    Salalah, Sultanate of OMAN.

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