Groundbreaking Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who became the first woman to receive the coveted Fields Medal, has died following a battle with breast cancer.

The 40-year-old fought the disease for four years and was recently hospitalised in the US as the cancer spread to her bone marrow.

Mirzakhani was a professor in the US at Stanford University's mathematics department, having graduated from Iran's Sharif University of Technology in 1999 and earning her PhD in mathematics from Harvard University in 2004.

She made history in 2014 after becoming the first woman, as well as the first Iranian, to win the Fields Medal – nicknamed the "Nobel Prize of mathematics" – for her outstanding contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems.

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