[Todos CMAT] Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017
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Mar Jul 18 16:02:34 -03 2017
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Headlines Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017
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.
She gained widespread recognition for her early results in hyperbolic
geometry, particularly on a problem known as the "prime number theorem
for simple closed geodesics." The viewpoint developed in that work led
to a proof of a conjecture that had been made by string theorist
Edward Witten (1990 Fields Medalist). The conjecture was first proved
in 1992 by Maxim Kontsevich (1998 Fields Medalist); 15 years later,
Mirzakhani provided a new proof that came from a very different and
totally unexpected viewpoint. These works led her to the study of
dynamical systems associated with spaces of Riemann surfaces, where
she and her collaborators made fundamental breakthroughs.
Her more-recent work (with A. Eskin and A. Mohammadi) constitutes one
of the most sought-after advances in the area known as "Teichmüller
dynamics." She proved a rigidity theorem that is an analogue, in this
non-homogeneous context, of the celebrated "Ratner rigidity theorem"
in homogeneous dynamics. (Marina Ratner, a Russian-American
mathematician, died earlier this month at the age of 78.) Like
Ratner's results, Mirzakhani's rigidity theorems, in asserting that
the dynamics are much more rigid than one might initially expect, have
numerous and far-reaching applications. That such rigidity is true and
can be proven, in the highly intricate inhomogeneous setting of
Teichmüller dynamics, came as a surprise. Indeed, the latter are so
complicated that many assumed it would be impossible to work on them
directly. Not Mirzakhani. Possessing strong geometric intuition and
fluency in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and
disparate mathematical cultures, she embodied a rare combination of
superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep
curiosity.
In an obituary [
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/16/us/maryam-mirzakhani-dead.html?_r=1
] by Kenneth Chang in The New York Times , Peter Sarnak reflected
on Mirzakhani: "She was in the midst of doing fantastic work. ... Not
only did she solve many problems; in solving problems, she developed
tools that are now the bread and butter of people working in the
field." Mirzakhani was also a tremendous inspiration to women
mathematicians around the globe. In an article [
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/opinion/maryam-mirzakhani-the-right-woman-at-the-right-time/2015263.article ] in Times Higher Education , which appeared on August 21, 2014, just after Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal, British mathematician Caroline Series summed up what many women mathematicians felt at that moment: "The tectonic plates have shifted, and female mathematicians have finally come of
age."
Mirzakhani grew up in Iran and came to the U.S. to attend graduate
school, earning her PhD from Harvard University in 2004 under the
direction of Curtis McMullen (1998 Fields Medalist). She was a
professor at Princeton University before moving to Stanford in 2008.
In addition to the Fields Medal, Mirzakhani also received the
Blumenthal Award (2009), the Satter Prize (2013), and a Clay Research
Award (2014). Survivors include her husband, Jan Vondrák, also a
mathematics professor at Stanford, and their daughter, Anahita.
For more on Mirzakhani's work, see an article [
http://www.math.harvard.edu/~ctm/papers/home/text/papers/icm14/icm14.pdf ] by
Curtis McMullen, which contains the laudatio he delivered during the
2014 International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, where
Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal. More information can be found in
the news release [
http://www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Prizes/2014/news_release_mirzakhani.pdf
] the International Mathematical Union issued when Mirzakhani's
Fields Medal was announced, a 2014 article [
https://www.quantamagazine.org/maryam-mirzakhani-is-first-woman-fields-medalist-20140812 ] in Quanta Magazine by Erica Klarreich, a 2015 emNotices/em article [ http://www.ams.org/notices/201511/rnoti-p1334.pdf ] by Anton Zorich (pp. 1345-1349), and two pieces from this week: an article [ http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/maryam-mirzakhanis-pioneering-mathematical-legacy ]
in
The New Yorker by Siobhan Roberts, and a Beyond Reviews/em post
[ http://blogs.ams.org/beyondreviews/2017/07/17/maryam-mirzakhani ]
by Ed Dunne that highlights MathSciNet reviews of her work.
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