James Harris Simons
James Harris Simons
Simons speaking at the Differential Geometry, Mathematical Physics, Mathematics and Society conference in 2007 in Bures-sur-Yvette.
|Born||April 25, 1938|
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation||Mathematician, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist|
|Net worth||US$21.5 billion (February 2019)|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Simons (ex-wife)|
Marilyn Hawrys Simons
|Children||5, including Nat Simons|
|Awards||Oswald Veblen Prize (1976)|
James Harris Simons also known as Jim Simons (//; born April 25, 1938) is an American mathematician, billionaire hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. He is known as a quantitative investor and in 1982 founded Renaissance Technologies, a private hedge fund based in Setauket-East Setauket, New York. Although Simons retired from the fund in 2009, he remains its non-executive chairman and adviser.
He is also known for his studies on pattern recognition. He developed (with Shiing-Shen Chern) the Chern–Simons form, and contributed to the development of string theory by providing a theoretical framework to combine geometry and topology with quantum field theory. From 1968 to 1978, Simons was a mathematics professor and subsequent chair of the mathematics department at Stony Brook University.
As reported by Forbes, his net worth as of February 2019 is estimated to be $21.5 billion.
In 2016, asteroid 6618 Jimsimons, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1936, was named after Simons by the International Astronomical Union in honor of his contributions to mathematics and philanthropy.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Academic and scientific career
- 3 Investment career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Political and economic views
- 6 Controversies
- 7 Wealth and philanthropy
- 8 Legacy and awards
- 9 Publications and works
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Early life and education
James Harris Simons was born on April 25, 1938 to an American Jewish family, the only child of Marcia (née Kantor) and Matthew Simons, and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father owned a shoe factory. When James Simons was a teenager, he worked a job in the basement stockroom of a garden supply store. His inefficiency at the job resulted in his demotion as a floor sweeper. 
He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958 and a PhD, also in mathematics, from the University of California, Berkeley, under supervision of Bertram Kostant in 1961, at the age of 23.
Academic and scientific career
Simons' mathematical work has primarily focused on the geometry and topology of manifolds. His 1962 Berkeley PhD thesis, written under the direction of Bertram Kostant, gave a new and more conceptual proof of Berger's classification of the holonomy groups of Riemannian manifolds, which is now a cornerstone of modern geometry. He subsequently began to work with Shing-Shen Chern on the theory of characteristic classes, eventually discovering the Chern–Simons secondary characteristic classes of 3-manifolds, which are deeply related to the Yang-Mills functional on 4-manifolds, and have had a profound effect on modern physics. These and other contributions to geometry and topology led to Simons becoming the 1976 recipient of the AMS Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry. In 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
In 1964, Simons worked with the National Security Agency to break codes. Between 1964 and 1968, he was on the research staff of the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and taught mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, ultimately joining the faculty at Stony Brook University. In 1968, he was appointed chairman of the math department at Stony Brook University.
Simons founded Math for America, a nonprofit organization, in January 2004 with a mission to improve mathematics education in United States public schools by recruiting more highly qualified teachers. He funds a variety of research projects.
|A Rare Interview with the Mathematician Who Cracked Wall Street, 23:03, TED Talks|
|The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Ceremony - 17th October 2013, 1:31:40 (Simons section at 52:00-1:05:30), Scottish Parliament|
For more than two decades, Simons' Renaissance Technologies' hedge funds, which trade in markets around the world, have employed mathematical models to analyze and execute trades, many automated. Renaissance uses computer-based models to predict price changes in financial instruments. These models are based on analyzing as much data as can be gathered, then looking for non-random movements to make predictions.
Renaissance employs specialists with non-financial backgrounds, including mathematicians, physicists, signal processing experts and statisticians. The firm's latest fund is the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund (RIEF). RIEF has historically trailed the firm's better-known Medallion fund, a separate fund that contains only the personal money of the firm's executives.
"It's startling to see such a highly successful mathematician achieve success in another field," says Edward Witten, professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and considered by many of his peers to be the most accomplished theoretical physicist alive ...
In 2006, Simons was named Financial Engineer of the Year by the International Association of Financial Engineers. In 2007, he was estimated to have personally earned $2.8 billion, $1.7 billion in 2006, $1.5 billion in 2005 (the largest compensation among hedge fund managers that year), and $670 million in 2004.
Simons shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, citing Benjamin the Donkey in Animal Farm for explanation: "God gave me a tail to keep off the flies. But I'd rather have had no tail and no flies." On October 10, 2009, Simons announced he would retire on January 1, 2010 but remain at Renaissance as nonexecutive chairman.
In 1996, his son Paul, aged 34, was riding a bicycle, when he was killed by a car on Long Island. In 2003, his son Nicholas, aged 24, drowned on a trip to Bali, Indonesia. His son Nat Simons is an investor and philanthropist.
Political and economic views
Simons is a major contributor to Democratic Party political action committees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Simons is currently ranked the #5 donor to federal candidates in the 2016 election cycle, coming behind co-CEO Robert Mercer, who is ranked #1 and generally donates to Republicans. Simons has donated $7 million to Hillary Clinton's Priorities USA Action, $2.6 million to the House and Senate Majority PACs, and $500,000 to EMILY's List. He also donated $25,000 to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham's super PAC. Since 2006 Simons has contributed about $30.6 million to federal campaigns. Since 1990, Renaissance Technologies has contributed $59,081,152 to federal campaigns and since 2001, has spent $3,730,000 on lobbying.
According to The Wall Street Journal in May 2009, Simons was questioned by investors on the dramatic performance gap of Renaissance Technologies' portfolios. The Medallion Fund, which has been available exclusively to current and past employees and their families, surged 80% in 2008 in spite of hefty fees; the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund (RIEF), owned by outsiders, lost money in both 2008 and 2009; RIEF declined 16% in 2008.
On July 22, 2014, Simons was subject to bipartisan condemnation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the use of complex barrier options to shield day-to-day trading (usually subject to higher ordinary income tax rates) as long-term capital gains. "Renaissance Technologies was able to avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes by disguising its day-to-day stock trades as long term investments," said Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the committee's ranking Republican, in his opening statement.
An article published in The New York Times in 2015 said that Simons was involved in one of the biggest tax battles of the year, with Renaissance Technologies being "under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade."
Wealth and philanthropy
He was named by the Financial Times in 2006 as "the world's smartest billionaire". According to Forbes magazine Simons has a net worth of $18 billion USD as of February 2017. This makes him #24 on the Forbes 400 richest people list.
In 2014, Simons reportedly earned $1.2 billion including a share of his firm's management and performance fees, cash compensation and stock and option awards.
In 2011, he was included in the 50 Most Influential ranking of Bloomberg Markets Magazine. Simons owns a motor yacht, named Archimedes. It was built at the Dutch yacht builder Royal Van Lent and delivered to Simons in 2008.
Simons and his second wife, Marilyn Hawrys Simons, co-founded the Simons Foundation in 1994, a charitable organization that supports projects related to education and health, in addition to scientific research. In memory of his son Paul, whom he had with his first wife, Barbara Simons, he established Avalon Park, a 130-acre (0.53 km2) nature preserve in Stony Brook. In 1996, 34-year-old Paul was killed by a car driver while riding a bicycle near the Simons home. Another son, Nick Simons, drowned at age 24 while on a trip to Bali in Indonesia in 2003. Nick had worked in Nepal. The Simons have become large donors to Nepalese healthcare through the Nick Simons Institute.
The Simons Foundation established the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) in 2003 as a scientific initiative within the Simons Foundation's suite of programs. SFARI's mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
On February 27, 2008, then Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced a $60 million donation by the Simons Foundation to found the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook, the largest gift to a public university in New York state history.
Through the foundation, Simons has been a major benefactor of the University of California, Berkeley. On July 1, 2012, the Simons Foundation provided a $60 million grant to Berkeley to establish the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, the world's leading institute for collaborative research in theoretical computer science. The foundation has also made other major gifts to Berkeley, notably to its Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.
The Simons Foundation established the Flatiron Institute in 2016, to house 4 groups of computational scientists (each with 60 or more PhD level researchers). The institute consists of four cores or departments: CCB (the center for computational biology), CCA (Center for Computational Astrophysics), CCQ (Center for Computational Quantum mechanics), and CCM (Center for Computational Mathematics). The new institute is located in Manhattan and represents a major investment in basic computational science.
Legacy and awards
In 2008, he was inducted into Institutional Investors Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame along with David Swensen, Louis Bacon, Steven Cohen, Kenneth Griffin, Paul Tudor Jones, George Soros, Michael Steinhardt, Jack Nash, Seth Klarman, Alfred Jones, Leon Levy, Julian Robertson, and Bruce Kovner.
Publications and works
- "Minimal Cones, Plateau's Problem, and the Bernstein Conjecture". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 58 (2): 410–411. August 1967. doi:10.1073/pnas.58.2.410. PMC 335649. PMID 16578656.
- with Shiing-Shen Chern: "Some Cohomology Classes in Principal Fiber Bundles and Their Application to Riemannian Geometry". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 68 (4): 791–794. April 1971. doi:10.1073/pnas.68.4.791. PMC 389044. PMID 16591916.
- with Jean-Pierre Bourguignon and H. Blaine Lawson: "Stability and gap phenomena for Yang-Mills fields". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 76 (4): 1550–1553. April 1979. doi:10.1073/pnas.76.4.1550. PMC 383426. PMID 16592637.
- "Minimal varieties in riemannian manifolds". Annals of Mathematics. 88 (1): 62–105. July 1968. doi:10.2307/1970556.
- with Shiing-Shen Chern: "Characteristic forms and geometric invariants". Annals of Mathematics. 99 (1): 48–69. January 1974. doi:10.2307/1971013.
- Chern–Simons theory
- Chern–Simons form
- List of Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni
- List of University of California, Berkeley alumni
- List of people and organizations named in the Paradise Papers
- Teitelbaum, Richard (January 2008). "The Code Breaker". Bloomberg Markets Magazine. Bloomberg LP. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
- "A Billionaire Mathematician's Life of Ferocious Curiosity". The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Max, D. T. (2017-12-11). "Jim Simons, the Numbers King". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
- "RenTec's Jim Simons Retiring At End Of Year". Market Folly. October 8, 2009. Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
- "More Money than God".
- "Remarks on Chern-Simon Theory" (PDF). American Mathematical Society. January 15, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- "Simons Foundation Chair Jim Simons on His Career in Mathematics | Simons Foundation". www.simonsfoundation.org. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
- Pérez-peña, Richard (December 13, 2011). "Stony Brook University Given $150 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
- Forbes: "The World's Billionaires: James Simons" September 2016
- IAU Minor Planet Center
- "Bloomberg Billionaires Index - Jim Simons". Retrieved February 25, 2018 – via www.bloomberg.com.
- "RENAISSANCE INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT (UK) LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
- "The Jewish Billionaires of Forbes". jspace.com. March 14, 2012. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
- Boston Globe: "Marcia (Kantor) Simons Obituary" retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Bloomberg: "Simons at Renaissance Cracks Code, Doubling Assets (Update1)" By Richard Teitelbaum November 27, 2007
- "The Secret World of Jim Simons". iimagazine.com.
- ""World's Smartest Billionaire:" James Simons is Cal Alumnus of the Year for 2016". Cal Alumni Association. 2016-03-29. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
- "James Simons". Mathematics Genealogy Project. AMS. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "James H. Simons Elected to the National Academy of Sciences - Stony Brook University Newsroom". stonybrook.edu.
- Broad, William (July 7, 2014). "Seeker, Doer, Giver, Ponderer: A Billionaire Mathematician's Life of Ferocious Curiosity". New York Times.
- Levy, Steven (2001). Crypto: secrecy and privacy in the new code war. Penguin. p. 356. ISBN 0-14-024432-8.
- "A Rare Interview with the Mathematician Who Cracked Wall Street". TED (conference). March 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
- "Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy presented at the Scottish Parliament". The Scottish Parliament. October 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
- Baker, Nathaniel (June 24, 2005). "Renaissance Readies Long-Biased Strat". Institutional Investor.[permanent dead link]
- Zuckerman, Gregory (July 1, 2005). "Renaissance's Man: James Simons Does The Math on Fund". The Wall Street Journal. pp. C1. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
- Edward Witten (January 20, 2016). "ADVENTURES IN PHYSICS AND MATH" (PDF). Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Andersen, Jenny (April 16, 2008). "Wall Street Winners Get Billion-Dollar Paydays". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
- Jenny Anderson and Julie Creswell (April 24, 2007). "Make Less Than $240 Million? You're Off Top Hedge Fund List". The New York Times.
- Shell, Adam (May 26, 2006). "$363M is average pay for top hedge fund managers". USA Today. Retrieved August 15, 2006.
- "Top hedge fund manager had take-home pay of $1.5 billion in 2005 on 5% fee and 44% of gains". Finfacts.com. May 26, 2006.
- "Seed Interview: James Simons". Seed. September 19, 2006. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
- "Renaissance Founder Simons, Computer Trading Pioneer, to Retire". Bloomberg. October 9, 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2010.
- "The Quiet Hedge Fund Heir Who's Engaged in Massive Climate Giving". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Bowers, John (June 7, 2016). "A hedge fund house divided: Renaissance Technologies". OpenSecrets Blog. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
- Who are the Super PACs’ Biggest Donors? By Al Shaw, ProPublica. Updated December 7, 2012
- "Organizations: Renaissance Technologies". OpenSecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
- Pulliam, Susan; Strasburg, Jenny (May 15, 2009). "Simons Questioned by Investors: Disparity Is Seen in Running of Two Renaissance Funds". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- "Simons Subject to Bipartisan Condemnation for Tax Strategies".
- Scheiber, Noam; Cohendec, Patricia (December 29, 2015). "For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- "Alternative Rich List". FT.com. September 22, 2006. Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- "James Simons". Forbes. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
- H. Kent Baker; Greg Filbeck (26 July 2017). Hedge Funds: Structure, Strategies, and Performance. Oxford University Press. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-0-19-060739-5.
- "Superyacht Archimedes". SuperYachtFan.
- "Nepalnews Mercantile Communications Pvt. Ltd". nepalnews.com. Retrieved November 11, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- NSI Nick Simons Institute. "NICK: NSI Nick Simons Institute". nsi.edu.np. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- "About SFARI". SFARI.org. SFARI. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Roekbe, Joshua (September 19, 2006). "Putting his money where his math is". Seed. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "Stony Brook Announces $25 Million Gift From Renowned Former Math Chair Jim Simons". stonybrook.edu. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
- Arenson, Karen W. (February 27, 2008). "$60 Million Gift for Stony Brook". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- "MIT names historic Building 2, home of mathematics, in honor of James '58 and Marilyn Simons". MIT News. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. March 30, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Markoff, John (April 30, 2012). "California Chosen as Home for Computing Institute". New York Times.
- "Berkeley - $10 million donated to math institute". San Francisco Chronicle. May 6, 2007.
- Scientific American. "Hunt for Big Bang Gravitational Waves Gets $40-Million Boost". scientificamerican.com. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
- "The Alpha Hedge Fund Hall of Fame | Institutional Investor's Alpha". www.institutionalinvestorsalpha.com. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
- D.T. Max, "The Numbers King: Algorithms made Jim Simons a Wall Street billionaire. His new research center helps scientists mine data for the common good", The New Yorker, 18 & 25 December 2017, pp. 72–76, 78–83.
- Titan's Millions Stir Up Research Into Autism
- James Harris Simons at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- "Putting His Money Where His Math Is" – September 2006 article in Seed Magazine.
- James Simons on mathematics, common sense and good luck: my life and careers, MIT
- Jim Simons Speaks: Just No to Google and Goldman Sachs
- James Simons (1-hour interview, May 2015) - Numberphile
- Speech at MIT
- A rare interview with the mathematician who cracked Wall Street - TED Talk