A Word from the Directors: Remembering Jim

On May 10, 2024, James Harris Simons (Jim), passed away at the age of 86 in New York City.

Jim’s lifelong passion for math and basic science were an inspiration for all. An award-winning mathematician, a legend in quantitative investing, and a generous philanthropist, his work and life are a testament to his legacy. Jim’s steadfast nature and genius math were destined to make meaningful differences supporting mathematics and sciences worldwide.

Together with his wife Marilyn Simons, they supported many philanthropic causes, particularly those assisting math and science research—always advancing the frontiers of research in mathematics, the basic sciences, and more. Jim and Marilyn made a difference in our world in their achievements with effective support in excellent educational and research initiatives.

It has been noted that Jim had three major careers—a mathematician, an investor, and a philanthropist. He previously chaired the math department at Stony Brook University, and his breakthroughs during that time are now instrumental to fields such as string theory, topology, and condensed matter physics. As an investor, he established Renaissance Technologies, a successful hedge fund venture. He then created the Simons Foundation, Math for America, and many other philanthropic and educational initiatives.

Jim and Marilyn founded the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (SCGP), which opened at Stony Brook University in 2010. It thrives today as an international renowned research Center. It is here, at the Simons Center, that Jim’s belief in advances in mathematics and theoretical physics come to fruition.

Researchers convene at the Center in an environment that encourages the sharing of ideas for new discovery and breakthroughs. It is sustained by faculty and staff committed to the mission—and with great fondness and respect for Jim and Marilyn Simons, without whom this would not be possible.

As stated by Luis Alvarez Gaume in his note “A Word from the Directors,” “We have been privileged to know and to work with him. We will forever cherish his heritage.”