The Man Who Solved the Market

Peter Woit in Not Even Wrong:

There’s an excellent new book out about Jim Simons and Renaissance Technologies, The Man Who Solved the Market, by Gregory Zuckerman. I recommend it enthusiastically to anyone interested in the story of how geometer Jim Simons ended up being worth $23 billion. Lots of other mathematicians and physicists have also been involved in this over the years.

I first heard about Simons and his investment operation when I was a postdoc at Stony Brook in the mid-eighties, and have heard bits and pieces of this story from various sources over the years, sometimes clearly distorted in the retelling. It’s very satisfying to finally get a reliable explanation of what Simons and those working with him have been up to all this time. For those with more interest than me in the details of quant strategies, the book provides far and away the most information available about how Simons and RenTech have been making so much money so successfully. The author managed to get some degree of cooperation from Simons, and was thus able to get a lot of those involved with him to talk. As a result, while this isn’t an “authorized” biography, it’s written from a point of view rather sympathetic to Simons.

One question that keeps coming up in the book is that of motivation. Why did Simons abandon a highly successful career doing research mathematics in order to focus on making as much money as possible?

More here.