Largesse for math and science

I can’t help noticing, in the half page ad in today’s New York Times, that three ot the 16 winners of Simons Foundation prizes are from Central jersey. Names below. And then when I look up “Who is Mr. Simon” I discover that James Simon worked at the Institute of Defense Analyses (the one in Princeton) before he left academe to found his now $23 billion hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies.

He’s using his wealth, at least some of it, “to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.” His money is also behind Math for America and he was one of the first billionaires to sign the Giving Pledge.

News of the 2014 Simons Investigators doesn’t even seem to be up on the web yet, but here is a link to last year’s prizes in math and physical sciences. This year’s winners include Rachel Somerville of Rutgers (theoretical astrophysics), Anatoly Spitkovsky of Princeton (high energy astrophysics), and Moses Charikar of Princeton (computer science, approximation algorithms). Their prize gives them, in effect, an extra sabbatical “to work on long term projects of fundamental importance.”

Congratulations all round. And can anyone tell me whether the Simons family did indeed live in Princeton, when he worked at IDA? I thought of asking Lee Neuwirth, who was in charge of the IDA during those years.

Then I found this link to some fast facts about James Simons and learn he is #93 on the Forbes richest list with $12.5 billion. And here is the New York Times source, July 8, 2014.

The article leans heavily on the revelation that Simons, now 75, failed as a programmer, so he wants young people to know, “If I can do it, so can you.”

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One thought on “Largesse for math and science

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