Founder of Renaissance Technologies Jim Simons Passes Away at 86

Jim Simons. © Béatrice de Géa Jim Simons. © Béatrice de Géa
Jim Simons. © Béatrice de Géa

The Simons Foundation mourns the loss of its co-founder and chair emeritus, James Harris Simons, fondly known as Jim, who passed away on May 10, 2024, at the age of 86, in New York City.

Jim Simons was more than just a mathematician; he was a pioneer in quantitative investing and a compassionate philanthropist. Alongside his wife, Marilyn Simons, he generously contributed billions of dollars to numerous philanthropic endeavors, particularly those dedicated to advancing mathematics and science research and education. In 1994, they established the Simons Foundation, a beacon of support for scientists and organizations worldwide striving to push the boundaries of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

Jim remained actively engaged in the Simons Foundation’s work until his final days, his unwavering passion for mathematics and basic science serving as an inspiration to all. He was driven by a profound commitment to bolstering support for mathematics and basic sciences in the United States, often funding projects deemed crucial but overlooked by traditional avenues of funding.


Throughout its three-decade existence, the Simons Foundation has catalyzed breakthroughs in various fields, ranging from autism research to the understanding of the universe’s origins and cellular biology. Jim and Marilyn’s philanthropy continues to nurture the next generation of mathematicians and scientists in New York City and beyond.

Jim often reflected on the three phases of his professional journey: mathematician, investor, and philanthropist. Before venturing into the world of finance, he chaired the mathematics department at Stony Brook University, where his groundbreaking contributions laid the groundwork for advancements in string theory, topology, and condensed matter physics.

In 1978, Jim founded what would become Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that revolutionized quantitative trading and earned a place among the most profitable investment firms in history. However, his focus eventually shifted towards making a meaningful impact on society through the Simons Foundation, Simons Foundation International, Math for America, and other philanthropic initiatives.

“Jim was not only an exceptional leader but also a transformative figure in mathematics and finance,” remarks Simons Foundation president David Spergel. “Together with Marilyn Simons, his enduring legacy will continue to shape philanthropy’s landscape, leaving an indelible mark on mathematics, basic science, and our understanding of autism.”

Jim Simons leaves behind his wife, three children, five grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and a legacy that will endure through the countless lives he touched with his genuine curiosity, wit, and generosity.

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