May 12th, A Holiday For Celebrating Women In Mathematics

At the 2018 World Meeting for Women in Mathematics, (WM)^2 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Women’s Committee of the Iranian Mathematical Society proposed designating Maryam Mirzakhani’s birthday (May 12) as a day for celebrating women in mathematics. The proposal was approved.

Mirzakhani was the first woman and first Iranian to win the prestigious Fields Medal. “Mirzakhani specialized in theoretical mathematics that read like a foreign language by those outside of mathematics: moduli spaces, Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic theory and symplectic geometry,” according to a news release from Stanford University, where Mirzakhani was a mathematics professor until her death. “Her work was highly theoretical in nature, but it could have impacts concerning the theoretical physics of how the universe came to exist and, because it could inform quantum field theory, secondary applications to engineering and material science. Within mathematics, it has implications for the study of prime numbers and cryptography,” the news release adds. Tragically, Mirzakhani’s died of metastatic breast cancer on July 14, 2017. She was just 40 years old.

The documentary, Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani examines the life and mathematical work of Maryam Mirzakhani. Due to COVID-19 (and by special agreement with the producers), individuals and organizations between April 1 and May 19, 2020, may access this film for free. (You can make a request for screening authorization here.)

“The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers.”

Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017.

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