Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal

Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal

The International Congress of Mathematicians is held this year in Seoul, South Korea. As expected, its opening was the occasion to announce the winners of the prestigious Fields Medal. The surprise came with the Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani. This is the first woman to receive the award many consider the Nobel Prize for mathematics.

The history of mathematics has seen some great mathematicians like Emmy Noether but none of them had yet received the Fields Medal.  This is done with the mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani.  © Stanford University

Like every four years since 1950, the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM International Congress of Mathematicians) is the occasion of the award of the Fields Medal mythical that is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a price of around 11,000 euros and winners, four mathematicians in addition, must be aged under 40. The first Fields medals were actually awarded in 1936, a fact that may intrigue since then the 52 winners were all men.

This year, the opening of the ICM is associated with a real thunderbolt since it was officially announced that in addition to the Franco-Brazilian Artur Avila, the Austrian Martin Hairer and Canada-United States Manjul Bhargava, there was a woman among the winners. This is the Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani.

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