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The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  11,285 ratings  ·  820 reviews
Gregory Zuckerman, the bestselling author of The Greatest Trade Ever and The Frackers, answers the question investors have been asking for decades: How did Jim Simons do it?

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Jim Simons is the greatest money maker in modern financial history. No other investor--Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Ray Dalio,
Paperback, 359 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Portfolio Penguin (first published November 5th 2019)
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The Philosophy of Financial Markets

There are essentially two ways, two visions, two philosophies, of conducting inquiry in the social sciences. In one, rational behaviour is defined by some plausible propositions; behavioural data are then analysed; and people are shown to often act irrationally. In the other philosophy, the observed patterns of human behaviour are used to define an implicit standard of rationality which may be hidden and even unconscious. These patterns (or ‘signals’) are the
Jacob Vorstrup Goldman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim O'Hearn
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Every few months, I get a LinkedIn message from a headhunter regarding a discreet search by a secretive firm in the New York area. The message will reference a team of leading computer scientists and mathematicians. Some will use adjectives like "renowned" and "legendary" and phrases like "total compensation in excess of $500k."

My trader friends and I, a technologist with no academic credentials aside from being the first person at my college to turn a B+ into a teaching assistant role for a C++
Feb 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audible
It's not a bad book. If you like biographies focused on year by year events you will enjoy it.

I was expecting something else. Some market knowledge, some mathematical formulas.
The whole book is like listening to grandpa's story, where he is talking about himself, missing on every interesting fact and plot.

Also, in the end, we get into politics, making this even worse.
Maru Kun
Nov 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
I've always wondered what Jim Simons, the liberal leaning head of Renaissance Technologies, thought of the co-head of his firm, Robert Mercer. I hope Simons lives long enough to see the consequences of helping Mercer to his billions.

This book, reviewed in the NYT - How to Beat the Market, may provide some insight, to quote:
You can certainly argue, as one former Renaissance executive does, that hedge funds are “a game in which rich people play around with each other, and it doesn’t do the worl
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. I read it in 10 hours or so, at least 8 were a waste of time.

The title is surely chosen by the publisher as a marketing gimmick. It's not *that* much about Jim Simons, in fact past certain years (the 80s?) it's about Brown and Mercer, who came from IBM where they did natural language processing.

Basically the algorithm needs to "understand" what you're saying by trying to guess what are you *going* to say:
e.g. if you say "apple" the algo will apply a high probablity that the
Niranjana Sundararajan
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I was looking forward to reading- the growth of quant-based trading in finance through the lens of arguably the most successful firm in the field.

It's important to note what this book is NOT about. Firstly, it certainly doesn't just trace the life of Jim Simons- only about 25% of the book is about him. This book is about The *Men* Who Solved the Market and about the people who make/made RenTech. Secondly, it's definitely not about trading strat
Thiago Marzagão
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had always believed in the efficient market hypothesis. This book convinced me that I was wrong: it's not that there aren't inefficiencies to be exploited in financial markets, it's just that humans suck at seeing them. The same cognitive biases that create those inefficiencies in the first place also prevent us from exploiting them. We see signal where there is only noise, we anchor our expectations, we become emotionally invested in our choices. But the machine is immune to all that.

Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zuckerman is a superb spinner of complex stories, his latest book is no exception. Quantitative investing developed over the last 40 years as a result of increased use of mathematical formulas and large data sets. The theory assumed that the new methods would eliminate human errors.

The book concentrates on James Simons who began life as a distinguished mathematician and evolved into a very successful investment firm. The results of building these new models was phenomenal.

But Zuckerman also does
Rick Sam
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
An Excellent Biography, I enjoyed reading political factions within a company. It seems that it can be applied everywhere.

I would recommend this to people who are interested in Biographies, Investment, Wall-Street.

Deus Vult,
Dennis Cahillane
A nice telling of the people behind Renaissance Technologies, although I would've liked more math and equations ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
The story of the genius who is able to make huge profits through some foolproof formula or algorithm--except when he is wrong--is now so common that it feels like I've read this one before. ...more
Fred Forbes
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Show me the money! Prove it, in other words, a major mantra in my financial services world and prove it they do. Renaissance Technology, despite the highest fees among major hedge funds has managed to return, net, over 39% per year after fees since 1988. How, you might ask, as you dive into this book to discover the secret. Yeah, good luck with that! With all the non-disclosure agreements in place you aren't likely to find out. The author has done a good job taking some bare facts and critical d ...more
Rob Tsai
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing to think that the biggest/baddest hedge fund of all time was not founded by Wall Street types but a math professor from MIT/Stony Brook who relentlessly pursued wealth, and assembled a team of math wizards and computer scientists from Cornell, Stony Brook and IBM.

From the book, it sounds like many of the models were Hidden Markov Models, and stochastic differential equations - which I never got to in my schooling, but maybe one day if I have the chance and discipline?

One guy Strauss
Roger Grobler
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story about numbers, markets, causes, money and ultimately humanity

Given the secrecy of Renaissance Technologies, this must have been a very difficult book to research and write, and shines light on a most successful investment firm, if not the most successful. What Zuckerman achieved however is to both explain how Renaissance went about creating its algorithms and training systems, but also the motivations and lives of the characters in the story.

[Spoiler alert]
What is fascinating however is
John Devlin
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a bit of a nerd for a well written book on finance - think Michael Lewis.

And this is a winner.

Putting aside strong readability, what the author puts across or what conclusions I draw are that the markets are a mechanism.

Looking at companies or sectors is irrelevant. Renaissance enjoyed huge returns by simply sifting Big Data. Humans are irrelevant. The companies they command are mere replaceable cogs in a language of financial numbers.
More so, that these data analyzers fare well whether the
Simon Eskildsen
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Entertaining book, very enjoyable as an audio-book. More about the people behind Renaissance, the best performing hedge fund of all time, than the technology itself. One of the more scary stories is about Robert Mercer, former co-CEO of renaissance, who had a huge role in funding Trump's presidency with the billions he's made through Renaissance.

Overall, probably not a story I'll see myself refer back to as much as I hoped, but Zuckerman put himself in a tough position trying to dig up informati
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics, history
Fairly shallow overview of the Renaissance hedge fund company, especially on founder Jim Simons. There are a few obvious inaccuracies, but it seems to get the big picture right. The book is fairly balanced: on the one hand the company has made a few billionaires and given some NYC math teachers $15K bonuses, while on the other hand it has boosted white supremacy, supported climate denialism and been key to Trump's election. I was surprised to learn how little competition the firm faced at least ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Greg Zuckerman has done a great job giving readers a peak inside the secretive world of Jim Simons and Renaissance Technologies hedge fund operations.

Jim Simons Renaissance Technologies has been the greatest money making operation in the modern financial markets. No other investor or fund has had better returns over as long a time period, not Warren Buffett, Paul Tudor Jones, Peter Lynch, Ray Dalio, or George Soros. No one is in the same league of his fund’s lifetime returns on an annual and co
Athan Tolis
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
My college roommate’s brother was completing his PhD and called me to ask what I thought of the offer he had to join Renaissance. I advised him that they were in all probability a fraud and he should get a real job at a real Wall St. company. Thank goodness he did not take my advice. He’s done OK, and so have they, of course.

Ordered the book without asking him what he thought of it. Glad I did, if you’re from my business you’ll probably enjoy it a lot. It was a relief to read an employee also th
Alok Kejriwal
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THIS IS NOT A TECHY book. It's a BUSINESS book about a tech business & MUST read by everyone. A MASTERPIECE.

I first read about the Medallion fund in the WSJ a couple of years ago & was shocked. Who & how did this fund beat Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch et all, over the years? This book explains it all.

It's a SLOW read & peaks at the end. Be patient.

Why I loved it:

- It EXPOSES how entrepreneurs think. Jim & his crack tech team get their bets 50.75% right & that was enough to create Medallion! :) (It
Harshil Shah
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Man Who Solved The Market lets people take a peak inside the Renaissance Tech, the worlds most profitable hedge fund & the people behind it. RenTech beats many other managers like Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Paul Tudor Jones in terms of raw returns.

Zuckerman does a fine job of describing the people & story behind RenTech. Zuckerman describes James Simons the founder, Mercer, someone who supported Trump get to the White House & others who are responsible for collectively making over $100 Bi
Kaustubh Sule
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: quant-systems
This book is an account of journey of Renaissance Technologies , a quant based hedge fund. This book does not contain any algorithms used by RenTech but lays out the thought process of it's founders in the form of a story. Normal traders like me can get intimidated by the ivy league degrees and cutting edge mathematics/ physics research scientist of the organization. But the story lays of struggles of the super smart guys and serves as an inspiration for developing own thought process and more i ...more
Angelo Lisboa
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, business
The book focus on Renaissance but goes beyond and describes also the Quant competition and the landscape over the past 50 years.
The personal lives of many partners and former partners of the firm is very well explored by the author and it feels like he had enough access and testimonies to be able to tell an honest narrative.
The book has some passages where the author insert some technical trading terms but anyone can enjoy it , even with no knowledge of quant strategies.
The chapter detailing Bon
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Its origin story may not be as scandalous as those described in recent business book bestsellers like Bad Blood or Super Pumped, but for anyone who’s been curious about the creation and at least basic workings of Renaissance Technologies’ spectacular Medallion Fund, this book fills in a lot of blanks.

The book also thoroughly covers the diverse and interesting pre-Renaissance backgrounds of Jim Simons and other key players, and tackles the strife that came with dividing the Medallion spoils - inc
Clark Herring
Got about two thirds of the way through the book and just gave up. I have read many finance and finance history books and this was a disappointment. It was essentially story of people going to work for Jim Simon getting dissatisfied then leaving. The narrative was not cohesive. Jim simon may be the best investor ever but someone else needs to tell his story. The mainlesson from this book is don't expect to be at Wall Street unless you are a Math PhD with a lot of computing power. another lesson ...more
Santosh Shetty
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant science, technology and business non fiction read. What an amazing read. There are so many moving parts to this book - would’ve said that it’s a trading related boom. But it’s much more than that - it humanizes the mind behind the machines making the money effecting the political and social discourse and the very fabric of this country. Greg should be applauded for his ability and perseverance to collate so many interviews to publish this collage.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Demystifying book about one of the biggest black boxes of financial markets

+ delves deep into Jim Simons professional and personal struggles
+ fascinating tale about how quants think and build their models, emphasizing how difficult is to make money on the markets

- more about Rentech than Simons
- don’t expect to find trade secrets here
Mar 29, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written history of Renaissance Technologies and it's evolution. It was a bit too non-technical for my liking, with some aspects of finance/programming covered shallowly. Nonetheless, it was a fascinating story, learned a bunch about a slew of interesting characters. ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, stocks
The grumpus23 (23-word commentary)
This is my dream. Finding patterns in the mundane to make predictions. Decoding the randomness of life and making money in the process.
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Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, a 25-year veteran of the paper and a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award -- the highest honor in business journalism.

Greg is the author of six books: A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine; The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution; The Fra

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26 likes · 6 comments
“Simons shared a few life lessons with the school’s audience: “Work with the smartest people you can, hopefully smarter than you . . . be persistent, don’t give up easily. Be guided by beauty . . . it can be the way a company runs, or the way an experiment comes out, or the way a theorem comes out, but there’s a sense of beauty when something is working well, almost an aesthetic to it.” 9 likes
“Simons and his team are among the most secretive traders Wall Street has encountered, loath to drop even a hint of how they’d conquered financial markets, lest a competitor seize on any clue. Employees avoid media appearances and steer clear of industry conferences and most public gatherings. Simons once quoted Benjamin, the donkey in Animal Farm , to explain his attitude: “‘God gave me a tail to keep off the flies. But I’d rather have had no tail and no flies.’ That’s kind of the way I feel about publicity.” 6 likes
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