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Jim Simons was a mathematician and cryptographer who realised: the complex math he used to break codes could help explain patterns in the world of finance. Billions later, he’s working to support the next generation of mathematicians.

As a mathematician who cracked codes for the National Security Agency on the side, he had already revolutionized geometry – and incidentally laid the foundation for string theory – when he began to get restless. Along with a few hand-picked colleagues he started the investment firm that went on to become Renaissance, a hedge fund working with hitherto untapped algorithms, and became a billionaire in the process.

Now retired as Renaissance’s CEO, Simons devotes his time to mathematics and philanthropy. The Simons Foundation has committed more than a billion dollars to math and science education and to autism research.

What others say
Whether Simons is building charities, plotting strategies or contemplating his own legacy, it always comes back to the math.”
Bloomberg, January 2008