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She made history in 2014 after becoming the first woman, as well as the first Iranian, to win the Fields Medal - nicknamed the "Nobel Prize of mathematics" - for her outstanding contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems.

Three years later, the Iranian math prodigy died on Saturday of cancer in a USA hospital.

Born on May 3, 1977, in Tehran, Mirzakhani showed her knack for numbers from an early age, winning back-to-back gold medals in the 1994 and 1995 International Mathematical Olympiads.

In 2008, Mirzakhani joined the faculty of Stanford University, where she served as a professor of mathematics until her death.

"The more I spent time on mathematics, the more excited I became", she told The Guardian.

In 2016, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, adding her to the ranks of Einstein, Oppenheimer and Edison.

"It is fun - it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case", Mirzakhani said when she won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and a daughter, Anahita - who once referred to her mother's work as "painting" because of the doodles and drawings that marked her process of working on proofs and problems, according to an obituary released by Stanford.

"On behalf of the entire Stanford community, I congratulate Maryam on this incredible recognition, the highest honor in her discipline, the first ever granted to a woman", said Hennessy. She had breast cancer. The award is given out every four years.

"In short, Mirzakhani was fascinated by the geometric and dynamic complexities of curved surfaces - spheres, doughnut shapes and even amoebas". She said in interviews that she liked the interdisciplinary connections and implications of her work.

At the time, Mirzakhani called the award a "great honor" and said she hoped it would inspire other young women in her field. In a way, she told Quanta, working on mathematics is a lot like writing a novel.