James Simons

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James Harris Simons (2007)

James "Jim" Harris Simons (* 1938 in Newton , Massachusetts ) is an American mathematician and hedge fund manager. He founded the investment fund Renaissance Technologies and became one of the richest fund managers in the world.

Simons is the son of a Jewish shoe manufacturer in Newton, Massachusetts . He studied at MIT (Bachelor 1958), where he was a Moore Instructor in 1961 (and began to work with Isadore Singer ), and received his doctorate in 1962 from the University of California, Berkeley with Bertram Kostant ( On the transitivity of holonomy systems ). From 1961 to 1964 he taught at Harvard University and then until 1968 was a scientist in the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analyzes (IDA) (headed by Maxwell D. Taylor ), for which he cracked codes during the Vietnam War. He was fired for writing a letter to the editor in the New York Times in which he clearly condemned the Vietnam War. In 1968 he became chairman of the mathematics department of the State University of New York at Stony Brook , where he a. a. James got Ax .

Simons is known for his work on minimal surfaces and for the Chern-Simons shapes , which he introduced with Shiing-Shen Chern in 1974 and which can be used e.g. B. in string theory , knot theory and topological quantum field theory (Chern-Simons theory).

In his work on minimal surfaces from 1968 he proved the Simons inequality named after him, a lower bound for the Laplace operator , which acts on the square of the magnitude of the second fundamental form of a minimal hypersurface in a Riemann manifold . She played a fundamental role in solving the amber problem. Sergei Natanowitsch Bernstein had proven in 1927 that complete minimal surfaces are hypersurfaces in two dimensions in Euclidean space, which Ennio de Giorgi had extended to d = 3 and Frederick Almgren for d = 4. With his inequality, Simons was able to show that the theorem applies to, and a little later De Giorgi, Enrico Giusti and Enrico Bombieri showed that the theorem no longer applies to higher dimensions. Simons also did an important preliminary work: He introduced a seven-dimensional cone in eight-dimensional Euclidean space (Simons cone), of which Bombieri, De Giorgi and Giusti then showed that it was a minimal surface and thus provided a counter-example to the Bernstein conjecture. The Simons cone has the equation im .

In 1976 Simons received the Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry from the American Mathematical Society .

In 1978 he turned away from mathematics and entered the financial industry, where he pioneered the application of advanced mathematical methods. In 1982 he founded the New York investment company Renaissance Technologies with its flagship hedge fund "Medallion Fund", in which he also merged a company owned by James Ax in 1988 and was chairman until 2010. In 2005 he founded the Renaissance Institutional Equity Fund for institutional investors. Simons was one of the top two hedge fund managers in 2016 with an annual income of $ 1.5 billion. In 2017, he was ranked 49th on Forbes' billionaires list with an estimated net worth of $ 18 billion.

In 2006 he was financial engineering of the year of IAFE (International Association of Financial Engineers).

Simons is one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party .

He donates to mathematical research (e.g. MSRI ) and autism research (where his foundation has donated over $ 200 million mainly to research since 2007). His daughter is autistic. In addition to MSRI, he is a trustee of Rockefeller University , the Institute for Advanced Study (to which he donated a large sum for biological research) and the Brookhaven National Laboratory (in 2006 he and a few others saved the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider from closure with $ 13 million ). In memory of two of his sons who died in accidents, he supports a nature park near Stony Brook (Avalon Park) and the health system in Nepal. In February 2008 he donated $ 60 million to the newly founded Science Center for Geometry and Physics in Stony Brook. His Simons Foundation supports research in mathematics and theoretical physics through grants such as the Simons Fellowships.

In 2017, in the course of the publications around the Paradise Papers, it became known that Simons had owned a trust company called Lord Jim Trust in Bermuda . The Lord Jim Trust was valued at approximately $ 8 billion at the end of 2010, making its fortune considerably higher than previously assumed. The Lord Jim Trust was split into four smaller trusts, each for Simons and three of his children. According to Simons, he passed on his stake to the Simons Foundation International , founded in 2011 , not to be confused with the Simons Foundation.

He has been a member of the American Philosophical Society since 2007 and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2008 . In 2014 Simons was elected to the National Academy of Sciences . In 2016 an asteroid was named after him: (6618) Jimsimons .

Simons was married twice. He has three children from his first marriage and two children from his second marriage. He has an estate in Head of the Harbor .


  • Dennis Kremer: The Spy Who Loves Money, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung No. 21, May 28, 2017, p. 32.
  • Gregory Zuckerman: The man who solved the market: how Jim Simons launched the quant revolution , Portfolio 2019

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Jerusalem Post: James Simons
  2. Dennis Kremer: The Spy Who Loves Money, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung No. 21, May 28, 2017, p. 32.
  3. Simons Minimal varieties in Riemannian Manifolds , Annals of Mathematics, Volume 88, 1968, pp. 62-105.
  4. ^ Simons Inequality , Encyclopedia of Mathematics
  5. ^ Simons Cone , Encyclopedia of Mathematics
  6. http://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/management/pionier-james-simons-zahlendreher-im-krieg-der-algorithmen-seite-2/2849850-2.html
  7. ^ Nathan Vardi: The 25 Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Managers And Traders. Forbes, March 14, 2017.
  8. ^ Forbes
  9. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2016/06/a-hedge-fund-house-divided-renaissance-technologies/
  10. ^ Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, SFARI
  11. ^ Simons Foundation
  12. Democratic donor built up vast $ 8bn private wealth fund in Bermuda. The Guardian, archived from the original on June 28, 2020 ; accessed on June 28, 2020 (English).
  13. ^ Member History: James H. Simons. American Philosophical Society, accessed February 8, 2019 .
  14. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected. ( Memento of the original from August 18, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Press release from the National Academy of Sciences (nasonline.org) dated April 29, 2014  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.nasonline.org