On March 14, 2019, Albert Einstein’s 140th birthday, the Institute hosted the inaugural IAS Einstein Gala to honor James Harris Simons, IAS Trustee Emeritus and former Member in the School of Mathematics, for his visionary support of the Institute’s mission and his trailblazing success as a mathematician, investor, and philanthropist.

Renaissance Man – James Harris Simons


I was a member and I guess it was a very productive period. There really isn’t any place like it the institute has a certain symbolic value standing for freedom of thought rising to the highest ambitions.

And setting minds free.

James Harris Simons believes simplified this mission is so close to the surface something Jim is the most intensely curious person I know. In fact I have difficulty keeping up with him.

He’s unafraid to ask the questions. He’s humble and charming. He swept me off my feet. A brilliant mathematician businessman.

There aren’t very many people who’ve made it big in mathematics but we always knew there was one out there and that was Jim.

Joe when I was a kid the family doctor would tell me you’re a bright Jewish boy. You should be a doctor. I said wow I don’t know. I think I might like to do something with math. But he would say look you can’t make any money doing that stuff. When I was at MIT we would often go maybe 12 1:00 in the morning to this delicatessen two mathematicians is saying are in Ambrose. They would come in and sit down in a booth and do math. I thought that was so cool you had made a big impression on me when you’re really in the middle of mathematics. You’re thinking about it all the time in the shower when you’re walking down the street.

Jim can’t help but measure everything he always wants me to press the door close button on the elevator before I press our floor because it would save two seconds. I told them I have two seconds to spare.

When you do basic science you’ll never know where it’s going to lead.

Jemas influence in mathematics and physics has been enormous.

His thinking is very precise and very deep and he has been a great inspiration to all of us.

Certainly the part that’s influenced my work the most is the turns on instruction.

Jim Simons was born in mathematics but physicists took the idea and applied it everywhere opening a vast universe of possibilities.

Is that person at the highest level of mathematics yet he went into business.

I got all grouped together outstanding mathematicians physicists and computer scientists. We began to use mathematical models.

Completely revolutionized the hedge fund industry.

They brought tools and techniques. The market had never seen before.

Most of us would be very happy to do Walmer exceptional thing. Jim has done three. As a mathematician as an investor as a philanthropist.

Merrill and started the foundation in her dressing room in a file cabinet.

We support advanced research in the basic sciences. It’s grown a lot bigger and faster than we imagined.

He uses Simons foundation to take risks and to take new and innovative paths.

He is looking to see if anyone is actually working.

How long you’ve been with us.

Since July.

You like it.


You have to say that.

Oh definitely. Of course I do but I also want to.

This is a gentleman who is training the next generation of people at the interface of biology physics and computer sciences.

Basic science is one of the pillars of civilization. The Institute for Advanced Study is a paragon in that area.

This imprint is all over the institute. The Simon center for Systems Biology Simons whole point that brings the whole institute together where all the particles collide ideas are being shaped. Jim also NS2 you also have to support the basic operation of research being done across the board.

Basic research was important 50 years ago and I think it will be important 50 years from now.

When I finally met Jim it never occurred to me so much of what I would learn is how he carries himself as a person and as a philanthropist.

Getting to pushing along our lines is fundamentally important to him.

To some sense, Jim is a captain steward in many ships.

He is a good man. He does things because they’re good and right to do.

He is one of the great men of our time.

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