In memoriam: Jim Simons

24 MAY 2024

MATRIX is deeply saddened by the passing of James “Jim” Simons on May 10, 2024. Jim Simons was an acclaimed mathematician, a pioneer in quantitative investing, and a generous philanthropist.

Simons’ mathematical work primarily focused on the geometry and topology of manifolds. His 1962 Berkeley PhD thesis, written under the direction of Bertram Kostant, gave a new proof of Berger’s classification of the holonomy groups of Riemannian manifolds. He subsequently began to work with Shiing-Shen Chern on the theory of characteristic classes, eventually discovering the Chern–Simons secondary characteristic classes of 3-manifolds, which have found many applications in both mathematics and physics.  Despite his other endeavours, Simons remained research active well into his seventies.

In 1978, Jim founded Monemetrics, which later became Renaissance Technologies. The hedge fund revolutionised quantitative trading and became one of the most successful investment firms in history. Jim then dedicated himself to providing substantial support to mathematics and fundamental sciences, making a global impact through the Simons Foundation, Simons Foundation International, Math for America, and various other philanthropic initiatives.

MATRIX was profoundly grateful for the generous support provided by a grant from the Simons Foundation, which significantly bolstered its capacity to propel forward the mathematical sciences through cutting-edge research programs and international collaborations.

Jim’s commitment to intellectual rigor and his passion for mathematics, science research, and education will continue to influence and inspire the world. A one-day commemorative event for Simons will be held in early September as part of the MATRIX program on The Geometry of Moduli Spaces in String Theory.

For more about Jim and his legacy, please visit the Simons Foundation website.