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Stanford Professor Swaps Novels for Numbers to Win Award

Before becoming the first woman to win the top prize in mathematics, Maryam Mirzakhani grew up dreaming of becoming a writer.

The recipient of the Fields Medal, referred to as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics,” was absorbed by novels as a child in Tehran during and after the Iran-Iraq war. Her older brother got her interested in science and math, sharing what he learned in school. She was hooked after he showed her how to add up all the whole numbers from 1 to 100 in seconds, she said in an interview she gave to the Clay Mathematics Institute.