Maryam Mirzakhani, first woman to win top mathematics prize, dies  , By Allen Cone:

Maryam Mirzakhani, first woman to win top mathematics prize, dies

By Allen Cone   |   July 15, 2017 at 1:36 PM
Stanford mathematics professor Maryam Mirzakhani, the first and only woman to win the Fields Medal, died Saturday after a four-year battle with breast cancer. Courtesy Stanford News Service

July 15 (UPI) — Stanford professor Maryam Mirzakhani, the first and only woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal prize for mathematics, died Saturday after four years with breast cancer, the university announced. She was 40.

Mirzakhani, who was born in Iran, won the quadrennial Fields Medal in 2014, the most esteemed award in mathematics that some say is equivalent to the Nobel Prize and was first awarded in 1936. The prize was for “her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”

“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said at the time.

Mirzakhani, who joined Stanford in 2008, specialized in theoretical mathematics.

“Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement. “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. Her contributions as both a scholar and a role model are significant and enduring, and she will be dearly missed here at Stanford and around the world.”

Mirzakhani attended an all-girls high school in Tehran and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war.

In 1994, she won the gold medal in the Iranian International Mathematical Olympiad at age 17. In 1995, she earned a perfect score and two gold medals.

She graduated from Sharif University in Tehran in 1999 and earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 2004.

“At Harvard, Mirzakhani was distinguished by her determination and relentless questioning, despite the language barrier,” according to a Stanford News Service release. “Her questions came in English. Her notes were jotted in Farsi.”

After her doctorate at Harvard, Mirzakhani accepted a position as assistant professor at Princeton University and as a research fellow at the Clay Mathematics Institute.

“What’s so special about Maryam, the thing that really separates her, is the originality in how she puts together these disparate pieces,” said StevenKerckhoff, at the time of her Fields Medal award. Kerckhoff is a mathematics professor at Stanford and was one of Mirzakhani’s collaborators.

She also collaborated with Alex Eskin at the University of Chicago on trajectory of a billiards ball around a polygonal table. The challenge, which began as a thought exercise among physicists a century ago, had yet to be solved.

The paper she completed based on that exercise was published in 2013. The paper, more than 200 pages long, has been hailed as “the beginning of a new era” in mathematics and “a titanic work.”

“This isn’t the kind of thing you do to win at pool, but it’s the kind of thing you do to win a Fields Medal,” University of Wisconsin professor Jordan Ellenberg wrote in a Slate article in 2014.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, an associate professor at Stanford University, and daughter Anahita.

“A light was turned off today, it breaks my heart…. Gone far too soon,” Iran-born NASA scientist Firouz Naderi posted on Twitter.

He then posted: “A genius? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife.”

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

On Topic: Tech News to Know Now, by Levy Sumagaysay

On topic: Tech news to know now

Here’s what’s going on in tech.

Donald Trump, who tweeted that the U.S. would team up with Russia on cybersecurity, changes mind and says that wouldn’t work after all. (BBC)

Tesla sales fall to zero in Hong Kong after tax break was slashed in April, according to an examination of registrations. (WSJ)

Snap shares close below their IPO price of $17 a share. (CNBC)

ICYMI: Amid harassment and bias accusations among more established Silicon Valley companies and VC firms, Stanford’s graduate school of business has a new course that aims to teach entrepreneurs how to think about their startups with diversity in mind. (WSJ)

There’s drama with Mark Zuckerberg’s security detail in San Francisco, some of whom are former Oakland cops with checkered records. (SF Chronicle)

Amazon is rolling out a Geek Squad-like service to set up gadgets in customers’ homes. (Recode)

Drone owners who registered their drones are being offered a refund by the FAA as a result of a May court ruling. (Fortune)


Photo: The Democratic National Committee headquarters is seen June 14, 2016 in Washington. Hackers linked to Russian intelligence services broke into the Democratic National Committee’s computer networks during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Yet President Trump tweeted on Sunday that he and Russian President Putin “discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit.” (Alex Brandon/AP)

2017 Internet Trends

David Cummings on Startups

Mary Meeker is out with with her excellent annual Internet Trends 2017 report. Mary has been publishing an influential annual report for many years, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Here are a few sections from the slides:

  • Global Internet Trends = Solid….Slowing Smartphone Growth
  • Online Advertising (+ Commerce) = Increasingly Measurable + Actionable
  • Interactive Games = Motherlode of Tech Product Innovation + Modern Learning
  • Media = Distribution Disruption @ Torrid Pace
  • The Cloud = Accelerating Change Across Enterprises
  • Heathcare @ Digital Inflection Point

Want to know the major Internet trends? Go read the Internet Trends 2017 report.

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