30 Astonishing Facts About James Harris Simons We Bet You Didn't Know


Jim Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, a private hedge fund in New York, is famous for his studies on pattern recognition. Considered a hero in the mathematical fraternity, here are some really interesting facts about the American mathematician and hedge fund manager:

  1.  Asteroid 6618 Jimsimons, which was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1936, was named after Simons by the International Astronomical Union in the year 2016, in honor of his contributions to mathematics and philanthropy.
  2.  He, along with Shiing-Shen Chern, developed the Chern–Simons form, certain secondary characteristic classes. He also contributed to the development of string theory by providing a theoretical framework to combine geometry and topology with quantum field theory.
  3.  He was included in the 50 Most Influential ranking of Bloomberg Markets Magazine in the year 2011. He has been listed as one among the most influential person by several magazines.
  4.  Simons was named as "the world's smartest billionaire," in the year 2006, by the Financial Times.
  5.  He founded Math for America with an initial pledge of $25 million from the Simons Foundation in the year 2004, but later doubled the pledge after two years.
  6.  He was named Financial Engineer of the Year by the International Association of Financial Engineers, in the year 2006.
  7.  He has been constantly ranked as one among the America's top givers, and has given over $2.7 billion to philanthropic causes over his lifetime.
  8.  He won the 1976 AMS Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry for his contribution to geometry and topology.
  9.  He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the year 2014, for his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
  10.  He is the founder of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University, which is devoted to furthering fundamental knowledge in mathematics and theoretical physics.
  11.  James Harris Simons was born on April 25, 1938 in Newton, Massachusetts to Matthew Simons and Marcia Simons. He grew up as the only child in the family in Brookline, Massachusetts.
  12.  His first job as a teenager at the age of 14, was in the basement stockroom of a garden supply store, during his vacation, but was demoted to be a floor sweeper, for his inefficiency at the job.
  13.  He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in the year 1958.
  14.  At the age of 23, he did his PhD in Mathematics, under the supervision of Bertram Kostant, from the University of California, Berkeley in the year 1961.
  15.  Through his 1962 Berkeley PhD thesis, he gave a new and more conceptual proof of Berger's classification of the holonomy groups of Riemannian manifolds that turned out to be a cornerstone of modern geometry.
  16.  In the early 1964, he reportedly worked with the National Security Agency to break codes. He was also a part of the research team of the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) till the year 1968.
  17.  He was a professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, before joining the Stony Brook University, where he served till 1978.
  18.  Shortly after joining as the mathematics professor, he was appointed as the chairman of the mathematics department at Stony Brook University in the year 1968.
  19.  He was approached by the IBM in the year 1973, to attack the block cipher Lucifer, an early but direct precursor to the Data Encryption Standard (DES).
  20.  Simons has always had a passion for finances and in the year 1978, he quit academia and founded Monemetrics, a hedge fund management firm.
  21.  He recruited mathematicians, data-modeling experts, code breakers, scientists and engineers, he knew from his time at the IDA and Stony Brook University, for his company Monemetics.
  22.  In the year 1982, he changed the name of the company from Monemetrics to Renaissance Technologies, which grew manifold over the ensuing years.
  23.  He retired from Renaissance Technologies as the CEO in the year 2009, but till date remains as its non-executive chairman and adviser.
  24.  He and his second wife, Marilyn, founded the Simons Foundation in the year 1994, which funds research in mathematics and the basic sciences.
  25.  The Simons Foundation made a $60 million donation to Stony Brook University, for the founding of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, which till date is the largest gift to a public university in the history of New York.
  26.  He first married computer scientist Barbara Simons, but the relationship ended in divorce. He is married to Marilyn Hawrys Simons, who is the President of Simons Foundation.
  27.  He has three children with Barbara - Nathaniel Simons, Late Paul Simons and Liz Simons. Their son Paul Simons was killed by a car driver while riding a bicycle near the Simons home, when he was 34 years old.
  28.  He has two children with Marilyn - Late Nicholas Simons and Audrey Simons. Their son Nick drowned at age 24 while on a trip to Bali in Indonesia in the year 2003, while their daughter Audrey is autistic.
  29.  In memory of Paul, he has established Avalon Park, a 130-acre (0.53 km2) nature preserve in Stony Brook. The Simons are also large donors to Nepalese healthcare through the Nick Simons Institute, as their son worked in Nepal.
  30.  The Simons Foundation established the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, in the year 2003.
  31.  Jim Simons Net Worth: $21.5 Billion

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