An Iranian mathematician working in the US has become the first ever female winner of the celebrated Fields Medal.
In a landmark hailed as “long overdue”, Prof Maryam Mirzakhani was recognised for her work on complex geometry.
Four of the medals were presented in Seoul at the International Congress of Mathematicians, held every four years.
Also among the winners was Prof Martin Hairer from the University of Warwick, UK, whose work on randomness could prove useful for climate modelling.
Awarded by a committee from the International Mathematical Union (IMU), the Fields Medal is regarded as something akin to a Nobel Prize for maths. It was established by Canadian mathematician John Fields and comes with a 15,000 Canadian dollar (£8,000) cash prize.
First awarded in 1936 and then every four years since 1950, the medal is awarded to between two and four researchers, who must be no older than 40, because Fields wanted to encourage the winners to strive for “further achievement” as well as recognise their success.
The other two medals were won by Dr Artur Avila, a Brazilian mathematician who earned his PhD in dynamical systems at the age of 21, and Prof Manjul Bhargava, a Canadian-American number theorist at Princeton University.