Mirzakhani, first female 'Nobel Prize for Mathematics' victor, is dead

"Sad to learn about the passing of #MaryamMirzakhani - the intelligent #Iranian daughter, wife, mother, professor".

"You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math", she told one reporter. "I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians", Mirzakhani said at the time.

Iranian officials received heavy criticism for not using more recent pictures of Mirzakhani with short, uncovered hair, as she appeared at Fields Medal awarding ceremony.

Mirzakhani attended an all-girls high school in Tehran and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war. Mirzakhani first gained worldwide recognition during the 1994 and 1995 competitions.

A year later, she became the first Iranian student to achieve a flawless score and win two gold medals at the Olympiad. At Harvard, Mirzakhani was distinguished by her determination and relentless questioning, despite the language barrier.

According to the awarding committee, Mirzakhani's genius came from her "rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity". Her notes were jotted in Farsi.

Parliament Speaker Larijani, in his message of condolence, described Mirzakhani as a wise woman of science and an elite in world math whose demise has caused great sorrow. In 2008, at 31, she became a professor at Stanford. "The novelty of her approach made it a real tour de force".

She earned her BSc in mathematics from Iran's Sharif University of Technology in 1999 and her PhD from Harvard University in 2004. The disease finally spread to her bone marrow, Iranian media said. The challenge, which began as a thought exercise among physicists a century ago, had yet to be solved.

The resulting paper, now more than 200 pages in length, was published in 2013. Through it all, Maryam Mirzakhani never settled for the low-hanging fruit, but for the brass ring.

Early in her life, Mirzakhani had wanted to be a writer.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband Jan Vondrák, a Czechtheoretical computer scientist and applied mathematician who is an associate professor at Stanford University, and a daughter named Anahita.