A Tribute to Maryam Mirzakhani
Maryam Mirzakhani, May 12, 1977-July 14, 2017
Maryam Mirzakhani, the only woman to win a Fields Medal, died on July 14 at the age of 40. Mirzakhani was a professor at Stanford University and a highly original mathematician who made a host of striking contributions to geometry and dynamical systems. Her work bridges several mathematical disciplines—including hyperbolic geometry, complex analysis, topology, and dynamics—and in return deeply influenced them all.
Photo: Stanford University
When I woke up on July 15 and learned that Maryam Mirzakhani had died, I felt as though I had been punched in the gut. Maryam was an extraordinarily talented and accomplished young mathematician who was thrust into the limelight when she received the Fields Medal in 2014. After breaking the glass ceiling as the first female Medalist, she accepted with grace her role as a symbol for women's achievement. An Iranian-American, she served also as a reminder of the international character of the mathematical enterprise. Maryam Mirzakhani left us in the prime of her professional life. Her passing is a great loss to the mathematical community.
To commemorate esteemed mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, the American Mathematical Society is pleased to announce The Maryam Mirzakhani Lecture and The Maryam Mirzakhani Fund for The Next Generation. Please visit the Maryam Mirzakhani Fund page for more information or to make a gift in her memory.
Tributes and obituaries
The following is just small sample of the tributes to and obituaries of Maryam Mirzakhani from around the world:
- "A legacy of firsts: How mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani transcended boundaries," CBC Radio, September 23, 2019
- Maryam Mirzakhani: 1977-2017, tributes by Roya Beheshti; Izzet Coskun, Laura DeMarco, and David Dumas; Elon Lindenstrauss; Peter Sarnak; Alex Eskin; Eugenia Sapir; Hélène Barcelo and David Eisenbud; Ursula Hamenstädt; Scott A. Wolpert; Alex Wright and Anton Zorich (Notices of the AMS, November 2018)
- Maryam Mirzakhani Memorial via YouTube
- "Maryam Mirzakhani: She drew her way to mathematical greatness," by Gareth Cook, The Lives They Lived--The New York Times, December 31, 2017
- "Colleagues, friends and family gather to remember Stanford Professor Maryam Mirzakhani," by Amy Adams, Stanford News, October 23, 2017
- "Stanford University commemorates Maryam Mirzakhani," Tehran Times, October 22, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani (1977–2017)," by Kasra Rafi, Nature, September 7, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani (1977–2017)," by Alex Wright, Science, August 25, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani, Only Woman to Win a Fields Medal, Dies at 40," by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, July 16, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani’s Pioneering Mathematical Legacy," by Siobhan Roberts, The New Yorker, July 17, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani, Stanford mathematician and Fields Medal winner, dies," by Andrew Myers and Bjorn Carey, Stanford University News, July 15, 2017
- "The Beautiful Mathematical Explorations of Maryam Mirzakhani," by Moira Chas, Quanta Magazine, July 24, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani, first woman to win maths' Fields Medal, dies," BBC News, July 15, 2017
- "Dignitaries grieve death of math genius Maryam Mirzakhani," Tehran Times, July 15, 2017
- "Maryam Mirzakhani, A Candle Illuminating The Dark," by Paul Halpern, Forbes, August 1, 2017
- A tribute on the House floor by U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), a PhD mathematician
- Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017, American Mathematical Society, July 18, 2017
- A search for her name brings up many more pieces in national and local news media, scientific journals, and general interest publications such as The Boston Globe, PBS, Elle Magazine, People, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Wired, CNN, The Mercury News, India Times, Huffington Post, International Business Times, The Guardian, and Los Angeles Times.
About her work
When Maryam Mirzhakhani was awarded the Fields Medal in 2014 the world was captivated. The news media and mathematical community celebrated her achievements, which brought both her and her mathematics into the spotlight.
- "A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces," by Erica Klarreich. Quanta Magazine, August 12, 2014
- "The work of Maryam Mirzakhani," by Curtis McMullen (her PhD advisor). August 18, 2014
- "After 78 Years, A First: Math Prize Celebrates Work Of a Woman," by Geoff Brumfiel (with Bob Goldman, University of Maryland, and Judy Walker, University of Nebraska), NPR--All Things Considered, August 13, 2014
- "The work of Maryam Mirzakhani." International Mathematical Union press release, 2014
- "The Work of the 2014 Fields Medalists," by Welington de Melo, Bjorn Poonen, Jeremy Quastel, and Anton Zorich. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, December 2015 (the portion of the article on Mirzakhani's work, written by Zorich, begins on page 1345)
Read two AMS blog posts about Maryam Mirzakhani:
- A Beyond Reviews post, "Maryam Mirzakhani," by Ed Dunne (Mathematical Reviews Executive Editor) that highlights some MathSciNet reviews of her work
- An inclusion/exclusion post, "Remembering Maryam Mirzakhani," by Adriana Salerno (Bates College) that features "thoughts from women mathematicians expressing how Maryam Mirzakhani changed the mathematical world for them, how she influenced them, and how this influence will live on."
The AMS invited those who knew Maryam Mirzakhani or who were influenced by her and her work to share here.
So tragic to lose such a talented person. She inspired many people with her work and she will be sadly missed.
#1 - Mike - 07/26/2017 - 08:37
You will be always remembered for your work and your subtle yet magnificent persona! You inspire us and will keep inspiring all the women around the world..What you did in such a short span of life nobody can achieves even half of it.. you are truly a Star! Keep shining on us (even from there) RIP x
#2 - KHUSHBOO BUSSI - 07/27/2017 - 03:43
Dear Maryam, you wrote the most beautiful story ever, the story of your life.. yes, you are a brilliant writer too.. Rest in peace.
#3 - Somayeh - 07/27/2017 - 10:29
When you won, I deeply and just admired you. I was doing my Ph.D. and was stopped in an open problem, my advisor named you and encouraged me to solve the problem. Trying to solve an open problem, it was over my imagination, I'm a little bit of Math and too far from your high amazing level but he encouraged me. Thank you for the deep amazing feeling I had and still have. To be honest I'm still trying to solve it. I know may I never can but I am trying with a deep happy heart.
#4 - Maryam - 07/28/2017 - 00:44
Dear Maryam, You were the star of the Iranian Mathematics Community and who knows how many decades we'll have to wait for our next star. We will wait for this! Rest in peace.
#5 - Ali Reza Ashrafi - 07/28/2017 - 10:39
Dr. Dunne mentioned your recent works. Who knows? Preparing 200 pages of an outstanding paper might not have been a difficult task for you. Was it all about? These seemingly minor things will not be considered with an immediate effect, but long term effects have intensified your condition and that took our Iranian-American princess of mathematics down so soon. You will be missed so much.
#6 - Bright future - 07/30/2017 - 09:33
What I just wrote (above) was about your hard work toward your mathematical goals with your increased responsibility as a mother and a spouse and dealing with graduate students and .... Please add this comment to my previous message to avoid any misinterpretation.
#7 - Bright future - 07/31/2017 - 09:35
\"When I am dead, open my grave and see
The cloud of smoke that rises round thy feet:
In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee....\"
#8 - Robert - 08/03/2017 - 08:52
I am very sad to hear that the female Fields Medal winner, Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, passed away at the age of 40. I had some nice communications with her when I was the editor-in-chief of the Bull. Iranian Math. Soc. I am passing my deep condolences to her family and her friends. My note about her and her impact on mathematics (in Persian) in Newspaper Shargh Daily (Iran) can be found here
#9 - Mohammad Sal Moslehian - 08/03/2017 - 12:55
I am very proud of you
I pray that you will be a husnul khotimah
My condolences to her husband, her daughter and her family
#10 - Budi Nurani Ruchjana - 08/03/2017 - 15:51
A tragic loss to the world of mathematics
The death of Ms. Mirzakhani is a tragic loss to the scientific community. This is a very sad event.
#11 - Jyoti U. Devkota - 08/03/2017 - 23:52
Mirzakhani, she was first woman mathematician to win the prestigious Fields Medal, (Known the Nobel Prize of mathematics.) She had taken her prize at the conference organized by ICM and ICWM 2014 in Korea. I had also got the chance to meet her and talk with her in Korea. I felt very unhappy to hear her death. We lost very young renowned Women Mathematician.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I missed so much. Rest in Peace.
#12 - Saraswati Acharya - 08/04/2017 - 07:40
Now I am sure you remember the first time I met you,it goes back to 1994, when you were accepted as the student member of the Iranian IMO team,you were 17 years old, I was the team leader,you won the Gold Medal in Hong Kong IMO competition (1994). The year after you were still in the student member of the team and you won again the Gold Medal with the full mark in Canada (1995). From 1995 to 1999 or 2000 I witnessed your success in Sharif University,after that I heard about your success through different sources, one of them was my son Mohsen who was studying in MIT, the same time as you were in Harvard,The greatest was your Fields Medal which made me very glad as I was looking forward for you to win it. Any my happiness did not lost too much as I heard you suffered from cancer and unfortunately it did its job and we lost you. But you have done also your job and in 40 years you did the work of 400 years of the other educated people (as Dr. Soroush has mentioned in a note on your memory).
The only thing I can say now is:
Rest in peace
And beg the God Almighty to prepare a pleasant place for you.
#13 - Asadollah Razavi - 08/04/2017 - 15:44
Maryam will forever remind us that Mathematics is not a matter of geography nor gender. I feel her loss is unfair...to her husband, her daughter, her family and to all of us.
#14 - bet¨l tanbay - 08/04/2017 - 18:20
Dear Miriam, amazing young lady, when I first saw you among the Fields Medal winners, my heart couldn't help pounding hard out of joy, I cried; those were tears of joy. The second time I saw your picture on the news(TV), I couldn't help expecting another victory news; it was about a great loss, damn it! This made me scream so hard that I felt pain on my chest, and those tears were sad ones! One thing I hope for is that the sadness and the tears we have shed give rise to many women mathematicians who would be winners of Fields medals! Let your soul rest in piece!
#15 - Yirgalem Tsegaye - 08/07/2017 - 05:49
Math world, particularly women mathematicians miss you greatly. No doubt you are a great influence to many upcoming women mathematicians in many developing countries like India and several others in the globe. Let everyone take lessons from your great life and contribute towards mathematics. Though you have left us early, your work and impact will never be forgotten and they remain for eternity.
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Life Member of AMS
#16 - R Sivaraman - 08/16/2017 - 22:09
Words can't express how saddened we are to hear of Maryam Mirzakhani's tragic death. She was an extraordinary women. She is a big loss to scientific community. She will remain in our prayers forever.
EWM Local Coordinator for Pakistan.
#17 - Rashida Adeeb (Pakistan) - 08/18/2017 - 23:05
Sameen Ahmed Khan,
Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017),
Current Science, 113 (5), 982-983 (10 September 2017).
(Fortnightly Publication of the Indian Academy of Sciences).
Sameen Ahmed KHAN
Department of Mathematics and Sciences
College of Arts and Applied Sciences (CAAS)
Post Box No. 2509
Postal Code: 211
Sultanate of OMAN http://www.du.edu.om/
#18 - Sameen Ahmed Khan - 09/08/2017 - 10:13
Great loss in the field of mathematics. She has made many historical events of mathematics research. Her body is not here so sorry, it makes very measurable to every people who use and love mathematics. Her contributions remains as the inspiring events to the young generations in mathematics. Her sister's memory about her and her cousin's song make,....How to express. Rest in Peace Maryam Mirzakhani. She will remains as the shining star in the every historical events of mathematics.
#19 - Dr. Eka Ratna Acharya - 12/18/2017 - 15:52