New York Times features story on James Simons

On 7 July 2014, the New York Times ran a feature story on James H. Simons, the well-known geometer, hedge fund founder, billionaire and philanthropist. Here are some of the fascinating facts uncovered in the Times story and elsewhere:

  1. Simons was born in 1938 in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of a shoe factory owner.
  2. Simons graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in three years, then received his Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley in three more years, finishing at the age of 23.
  3. Simons worked on cryptographic mathematics at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Princeton, New Jersey, but failed as a programmer.
  4. He publicly dissented with his boss, a retired four-star Army general, on whether the Vietnam War should be pursued.
  5. At the age of 30, he accepted the position as Chair of the mathematics department at Stony Brook University, a job that no one else wanted, and turned it into an excellent department.
  6. In 1976, Simons won the Oswald Veblen Prize of the American Mathematical Society for groundbreaking work in area-minimizing surfaces.
  7. In 1982, at the ripe old age of 44, Simons founded Renaissance Technologies, one of the world’s most successful hedge funds.
  8. In recent years, two of his four sons died in tragic accidents: Paul, 34, was killed riding a bicycle, and Nicholas, 24, drowned while on a trip to Bali, Indonesia.
  9. Simons and his wife have established the Simons Foundation, which sponsors research in mathematics and mathematical physics, science news and public outreach.
  10. With a net worth of approximately $12.5 billion, Simons is now #93 on the latest Forbes rankings of the world’s billionaires.

Additional details are available in the New York Times feature article and also in the Wikipedia article on Simons.

Comments are closed.