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Watch Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win mathematics' top prize, explain her work

Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, mathematics' highest prize, earlier today. In this video she speaks briefly about her life and her work, saying she initially got excited about mathematics "just as a challenge" before coming to appreciate its value for its own sake only later. She says that growing up in wartime Iran was difficult, but recounts that "right after the war I had a lot of opportunities" and benefitted from fortuitous timing in that she "was a teenager when things became more stable."

Her work itself relates to "understanding structures you can put on a surface" and if you can fully understand what it's about you are a lot smarter than I am. But watch Mirzakhani try to explain it for herself: