Jim Simons, the billionaire hedge fund founder, has died at the age of 86

Jim Simons, the billionaire hedge fund founder, has died at the age of 86

Jim Simons, the billionaire investor, mathematician and philanthropist, died Friday in New York City, according to his foundation, the Simons Foundation. Simons is 86 years old.

Simons, founder of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, helped pioneer quantitative investing, a market strategy that relies on mathematical and statistical models to identify investment opportunities. Later in life, Simons became a political donor and philanthropist.

Simons has been interested in math and numbers since childhood, according to his foundation’s website. Born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1938, Simons earned a degree in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Math is the only subject I like,” Simons said in a 2015 interview for the Numberphile podcast.

After teaching briefly at MIT and Harvard University, Simons joined the Institute for Defense Analyzes in Princeton, New Jersey, working as a codebreaker for the National Security Agency.

According to his foundation, Simons was fired from the institute in 1968 because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. Simons later joined the faculty at Stony Brook University as head of the school’s mathematics department.

Simons left academia in the late 70s, eventually founding Renaissance Technologies in 1982.

“In looking at price patterns, I can see that there’s something we can study here and there’s a way to mathematically and statistically predict prices,” Simons said on the Numberphile podcast. “Gradually, we build a model, and the model gets better and better. Finally, models replace the basics.

Simons’ computer models helped grow his hedge fund into a multibillion-dollar business.

Later in life, Simons devoted his time to philanthropy and became a large Democratic political donor.

The Simons Foundation donates to autism research and provides grants for science and math education and research.

Last year, the Simons foundation donated $500 million to the Stony Brook endowment, the largest unrestricted gift to an American university in history, according to the Simons Foundation.

“I joined Stony Brook University in 1968 as chairman of their Mathematics Department,” Simons said at the time. “I knew then that it was a leading intellectual center with a serious commitment to research and innovation. But Stony Brook also gave me the opportunity to lead — and so it’s been great to watch the university grow and grow even better.”

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