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Top Math Prize Has Its First Female Winner

Image above: Winners of the 2014 Fields Medal in Mathematics, from left: Maryam Mirzakhani, Artur Avila, Manjul Bhargava and Martin Hairer. 

An Iranian mathematician is the first woman ever to receive a Fields Medal, often considered to be mathematics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The recipient, Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford, was one of four scheduled to be honored on Wednesday at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea.

The Fields Medal is given every four years, and several can be awarded at once. The other recipients this year are: Artur Avila of the National Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Brazil and the National Center for Scientific Research in France; Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University; and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in England.

The 52 medalists from previous years were all men.

"This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Dr. Mirzakhani was quoted as saying in a Stanford news release on Tuesday. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

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