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

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  6,607 ratings  ·  525 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,
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Paperback, 359 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Portfolio Penguin (first published November 5th 2019)
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BlackOxford
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
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Jacob Vorstrup Goldman
If you, like me, have already scoured the interwebs for tidbits on Jim Simons and his Long Island quant powerhouse, then there is not too much new stuff here, but the story is still nice to revisit, and there are insights not presented anywhere, in particular some viewpoints from Magerman that elucidate his position and why he acted like he did. The tragic story of James Ax is also interesting, albeit unfortunately very lopsided as he wasn't around anymore to present his side, and the psychologi ...more
Tim O'Hearn
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really 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++
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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
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ScienceOfSuccess
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.
Marco
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
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Niranjana
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
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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.

Zuckerma
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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,
Gottfried
Dennis Cahillane
A nice telling of the people behind Renaissance Technologies, although I would've liked more math and equations
Drtaxsacto
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
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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
Mehrsa
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.
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
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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
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Ben
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
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
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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
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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
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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: 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
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Eric
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
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Clark B.  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.
Femisapien
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
Javier Lorenzana
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-immerse
Reads like a movie.

Ryan
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-mortems
Great book about Renaissance Technologies and the algorithmic/statistical arbitrage business.

This is more about the people and the business, not about the technology or decisions made, but there was enough of an overview of how things evolved to be interesting. I wish I'd worked at a business like this in the late 90s/early 00s on the data/infrastructure team -- sounds amazing!

Interesting tidbits: traders were benchmarking themselves against Madoff and coming up short -- only to find out years l
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Dipanshu Gupta
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Was a fun and insightful read into the world of quantitative finance. With the world being taken over by them, their value rapidly increasing over fundamental investors, and the Machine Learning having its pop-cultural moment, this book is very relevant today.

At the centre of the book is Jim Simmons, a man who manages Renaissance, a quantitative investment group. Never heard of them? That’s exactly how he prefers to remain - on the DL. What you can’t take away from the fund are staggering retur
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Zahedul
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The exhilarating account of the advent and growth of the field of quantitative investing, spearheaded by Math Phds, software developers, physicists, and rocket scientists. The book narrates the story of Jim Simons and his colleagues amid the turbulence of the US stock and commodities market. A must-read for those remotely interested in investing and data science.
Karen
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This was an easy, interesting read. The author states from the very beginning that the ex- and current employees don't like to talk about the company and Simons didn't want him to write the book. It's clear that while there's a bunch of research, the book, to me, didn't come alive the way some of the similar books in the genre do. The characters didn't seem 3-dimensional and the story didn't have the spark it needed to move from a research project to a compelling book. It didn't really
...more
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Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, a 22-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 five books: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution; The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters; The Greatest Trade Ev
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News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
20 likes · 5 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.” 5 likes
“We’re right 50.75 percent of the time . . . but we’re 100 percent right 50.75 percent of the time,” Mercer told a friend. “You can make billions that way.” 4 likes
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