Math Prodigy and Philanthropist
Known as the world’s “smartest billionaire,” Jim Simons is a guy with super hero-level math skills who used his powers for good! Simons is good at math – really good. He got one of the most advanced math degrees you can earn – a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Mathematics – from UC Berkeley when he was only 23 years old.
He taught at both MIT and Harvard – the most prestigious universities in the world for math and headed the math department at the State University of New York in Stonybrook. He also worked at the Department of Defense, cracking codes!
He and someone he worked with even invented a mathematical theory that theoretical physicists are still using today. Simons left teaching in 1978 and decided to use his mathematical abilities to make money in the stock market. He started an investment firm called Renaissance Technologies that made $29 billion by the time he retired in 2010.
He is now one of the top-100 richest people in the world, and one of the 50 most influential.
Simons has been very generous with his fortune, spending much of it on research in math and science education, the diagnosis and treatment of autism, and math and science projects such as ocean conservation. Simons recently pledged $80 million to the New York Genome Center and will match whatever anyone else contributes up to a total of $100 million over the next three years.
Simons built his success in math, and math and science education are especially important to him. His foundation has started a nonprofit that aims to be a model for math and science education by helping teachers and school leaders learn what works best in STEM education.