James Harris Simons
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In 1982, Simons founded Renaissance Technologies Corporation, a private investment firm based in New York with over $12 billion under management; Simons is still at the helm, as president, of what is now one of the world’s most successful hedge funds. According to Institutional Investor magazine, Simons earned an estimated $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’ most influential research involved the discovery and application of certain geometric measurements, and resulted in the Chern-Simons form (aka Chern-Simons invariants, or Chern-Simons theory). In 1974, his theory was published in Characteristic Forms and Geometric Invariants, co-authored with the differential geometer Shiing-Shen Chern. The theory has wide use in theoretical physics, particularly string theory. With an estimated current net worth of around $5.5 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 57th-richest person in America.
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.”
 Early life and career
Jim Simons, the son of a shoe factory owner in Massachusetts, received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1958, and his PhD, also in mathematics, from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962 at the age of 23. From 1961 to 1964, he taught mathematics at MIT and Harvard University. Between 1964 and 1968, he was on the research staff of the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). In 1968, he was appointed chairman of the math department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook transforming it into the top ten in the nation. In 1978, he left academia to run an investment fund that traded in commodities and financial instruments on a discretionary basis.
In 1976, Simons won the American Mathematical Society‘s Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry, for work that involved a recasting of the subject of area minimizing multi-dimensional surfaces and characteristic forms. This resulted in his proof of the Bernstein conjecture up to real dimension 8, and an improvement of a certain “regularity” result of Wendell H. Fleming on a generalized Plateau’s problem.
 Renaissance Technologies
For over two decades, the Renaissance Technologies investment firm, which trades in markets around the world, has been at the forefront of research in mathematics and economic analysis. Renaissance uses computer-based models to predict price changes in easily-traded 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 more than 60 top scientific specialists, including mathematicians, physicists, astrophysicists and statisticians, from countries as diverse as Japan and Cuba yielding returns ten percentage points higher than investors Bruce Kovner, George Soros, Paul Tudor Jones, Louis Bacon, Mark Kingdon or Monroe Trout. Nonetheless, in a statement released to shareholders, the fund announced it has sustained losses of up to 7% in the wake of the 2007 Subprime mortgage financial crisis but managed to end the month of August with a positive performance of +0.7%.
- “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, N.J., and considered by many of his peers to be the most accomplished theoretical physicist alive… (Gregory Zuckerman, “Heard on the Street, Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2005).
Simons was the IAFE’s (International Association of Financial Engineers) FEOY (Financial Engineer of the Year) for 2006.
The wealth that Simons has amassed funds his many philanthropic pursuits. Simons is a benefactor for the mathematical sciences, supporting research projects, chairs, and conferences in the United States and abroad.
Simons and his second wife, Marilyn Hawrys Simons, co-founded the Simons Foundation, a charitable organization which supports projects related to education and health, in addition to scientific research. In memory of his son Paul, he established Avalon Park, a 130 acre nature preserve in Stony Brook. 34-year-old Paul was killed a decade ago while riding a bicycle near their home. 23-year-old son Nick drowned in 2003 while on a trip to Bali in Indonesia. Nick had worked in Nepal and the Simons have become large donors to Nepalese healthcare through the Nick Simons Institute. Jim Simons also founded Math for America.
In early 2006, he led a group of directors of Renaissance Technologies Corporation and of Brookhaven Science Associates in donating $13 million to fund a budget shortfall of the Brookhaven National Laboratory that would have shut down the operations of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider for 2006.
Also in 2006 Simons donated $25 million to Stony Brook University through the Stony Brook Foundation. The gift is intended to benefit the Mathematics and Physics departments at the university.
 Autism research
The family’s charitable foundation has committed $38 million to find the causes related to autism in recent years, and plans to spend another $100 million in what is becoming the largest private investment in the field of autism research, while Simons personally exerts extraordinary control over where and how his money is spent. Simons has provided DNA from his family for study (his daughter is autistic), and has given assistance in helping solve research problems. When MIT asked for brain research funding, he stipulated that the project focus on autism and include scientists of his choosing.
On June 11, 2003, the Simons Foundation hosted its first “Panel on Autism Research” in New York City, a day-long event highlighting research into the causes of autism, the accurate genomic mapping of autism, and in the study of the biochemical mechanisms that occur in people with autism. Attendees included David Amaral, Dr. Eric Courchesne, Dr. Nathaniel Heinz, Tom Insel, MD, Catherine Lord, PhD, Dr. Fred Volkmar and Dr. Paul Greengard. The Simons Foundation recently gave $10 million to two researchers at the Yale University Child Study Center to study genetic influences on autism.
 Boardroom appointments
Simons serves as trustee of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Institute for Advanced Study, Rockefeller University, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. He is also a member of the Board of the MIT Corporation.
- ^ Lux, Hal (2000-11-01). The secret world of Jim Simons. Institutional Investor. Retrieved on 2006–08-15.
- ^ Jenny Anderson and Julie Creswell. “Make Less Than $240 Million? You’re Off Top Hedge Fund List“, New York Times, 2007-04-24.
- ^ Shell, Adam (2006-05-26). $363M is average pay for top hedge fund managers. USA Today. Retrieved on 2006–08-15.
- ^ Top hedge fund manager had take-home pay of $1.5 billion in 2005 on 5% fee and 44% of gains. Finfacts.com (2006-05-26).
- ^ The World’s Billionaires: #214 James Simons.. Forbes.com (2007-03-08). Retrieved on 2007–05-02.
- ^ The 400 Richest Americans: #57 James H Simons. Forbes.com (2007-09-20). Retrieved on 2007–05-02.
- ^ http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=2&subID=1710
- ^ http://www.topix.net/content/trb/0406627640415189724423195224002828354358
- ^ http://genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/html/id.phtml?id=32049
- ^ “Renaissance Hedge Fund Down 7 Percent“, New York Times, 2007-08-10.
- ^ Baker, Nathaniel. “Renaissance Readies Long-Biased Strat“, Institutional Investor, 2005-06-24.
- ^ Zuckerman, Gregory. “Renaissance’s Man: James Simons Does The Math on Fund“, The Wall Street Journal, 2005-07-01, pp. C1. Retrieved on 2006–08-15.
- ^ http://www.topix.net/content/trb/0406627640415189724423195224002828354358
- ^ http://www.nepalnews.com/contents/2006/englishweekly/spotlight/mar/mar31/national2.php
- ^ http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/PrintStory.asp?filepath=aATaoanlaNaeaw2a/a2Ta0sa/Va3a/a2sgaHaoZaea/aFWata0a0qxyea3pya8poIamal
- ^ http://sbgradmag.org/node/85
- ^ http://commcgi.cc.stonybrook.edu/artman/publish/printer_1088.shtml
 External links
- Hoovers.com – ‘Renaissance Technologies Corporation’ (corporate profile)
- IAS.edu – ‘The Simons Foundation Donates $10 million for Advanced Study: Gift Will Support the Institute’s Center for Systems Biology’, Institute for Advanced Study (November 21, 2005)
- IHES.fr – ‘Jim Simons’ (profile)
- SARNet.org – ‘Titan’s Millions Stir Up Research Into Autism: James Simons Taps Big Stars From Outside Field to Find A Genetic Explanation’, Antonio Regalado, Wall Street Journal
- SimonsFoundation.org – ‘The primary mission of The Simons Foundation is to advance the frontiers of research in the basic sciences and mathematics’
- TurtleTrader.com – ‘Jim Simons: Renaissance Technologies Corp.’
- James Harris Simons at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Putting His Money Where His Math Is, Seed Magazine, by Joshua Roebke, Posted September 19, 2006