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Jim Simons, billionaire quantitative investing pioneer who generated eye-popping returns, dies at 86

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Jim Simons attends IAS Einstein Gala honoring Jim Simons at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in New York City. 

Sylvain Gaboury | Patrick Mcmullan | Getty Images

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Jim Simons, a mathematician who founded the most successful quantitative hedge fund of all time, passed away on Friday in New York City, his foundation announced on its website.

Pioneering mathematical models and algorithms to make investment decisions, Simons left behind an otherworldly track record at Renaissance Technologies, that bested legends such as Warren Buffett and George Soros. Its flagship Medallion Fund enjoyed annual returns of 66% during a period starting in 2018, according to Gregory Zuckerman’s book “The Man Who Solved the Market.”

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During the Vietnam War, he worked as codebreaker for a U.S. Intelligence origination that fought the Soviet Union and successfully cracked the Russian code.

Simons received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from MIT in 1958, and he earned his PhD in mathematics from University of California, Berkeley at the age of only 23. The quant guru founded what became Renaissance in 1978 at the age of 40 after he quit academia and decided to give a shot at trading.

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Unlike most investors who studied fundamentals to evaluate a company’s worth, Simons relied completely on an automated trading system to take advantage of market inefficiencies and trading patterns.

His Medallion Fund earned more than $100 billion between 1988 and 2018, with an annualized return of 39% after fees. The fund was closed to new money in 1993 and Simons only allowed his employees to invest in it starting 2005.

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Simons’ net worth was estimated to be $31.4 billion as of Friday, according to Forbes.

The quant guru previously chaired the math department at Stony Brook University in New York and his mathematical breakthroughs are instrumental to fields such as string theory, topology and condensed matter physics, his foundation said.

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He was active in the work of the Simons Foundation until the end of his life. Simons is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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