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Iranian-born Stanford professor is first woman to win Fields Medal, mathematics' top prize

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This undated photo provided by Professor Maryam Mirzakhani via Stanford shows her on the university's campus. On Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, the Iranian-born Stanford University professor became the first woman to win math’s highest honor, the Fields Medal. The prize is awarded every four years to mathematicians 40 years old or younger. It was established in 1936. (AP Photo/Maryam Mirzakhani via Stanford) (The Associated Press)

An Iranian-born Stanford University professor is the first woman to win math's highest honor, the Fields Medal.

The International Mathematics Union awarded the prize Wednesday to Maryam Mirzakhani (Mari-ee-'AHM Meer-zawk-'AHNI) and three others.

The prize and $13,700 is awarded every four years to mathematicians 40 years old or younger. It was establish in 1936.

Mirzakhani, 37, won for complex theoretical math on the symmetry of curved surfaces, including spheres and even doughnuts.

As a teenager, Mirzakhani won gold medals at international math contests. She earned her bachelor's degree in Iran and got her doctorate at Harvard University.

The other winners are Artur Avila, a Brazilian-born professor at the Institute of Mathematics of Jussieu in Paris, Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in England.