Each of the winners this year is a first for the Fields Medal: Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman and the first Iranian to win the prize; Manjul Bhargava the first Canadian; Artur Avila the first Brazilian; and Martin Hairer is the first Austrian to win a Fields Medal.
ICSU Executive Board Member John Ball, who attended the Opening Ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul this morning, said that “it was a historic and moving moment when Professor Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal from South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.” He added that he hopes “her example will inspire many more young women to consider taking up a career in mathematics, something that is essential for the health of mathematics.”
The Fields medal, considered the most prestigious award for mathematicians, is awarded every four years to up to four winners. Designed as “recognition of work already done, it was at the same time intended to be an encouragement for further achievement on the part of the recipients and a stimulus to renewed effort on the part of others.” It has an age limit of 40 years of age in order to help encourage younger mathematicians in their careers.
Read the official announcement by the Fields Institute on their website.