Zeien Lecture: Dr. James H. Simons
Webb Institute welcomed Dr. and Mrs. James H. Simons to campus on April 27th for the occasion of Dr. Simons’ lecture for the Alfred M. Zeien Lecture Series. Dr. Simons, a very successful mathematician, money manager, philanthropist, and “Renaissance man,” presented a lecture entitled “Mathematics, Common Sense, and Good Luck.”
Dr. Simons received a B.S. in mathematics from MIT in 1958 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Berkeley in 1961 at the age 23. For five years, he worked as a code breaker for the Institute for Defense Analysis. He taught for a number of years at MIT and Princeton University and then in 1968 became chairman of the Mathematics Department at SUNY-Stony Brook. Meanwhile, he started a business with some friends at which they used their knowledge of math to create new business and investment models. The models worked exceptionally well in the business world.
What valuable life lessons might be learned from Dr. Simons’ experiences? First, try something different. Secondly, find great business partners. Third, remember that a business organization can be a beautiful system if you have bright people who are motivated and work well together. Finally, never underestimate the importance of luck.