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

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  928 ratings  ·  79 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, 304 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Portfolio Penguin
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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
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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 world
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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++
...more
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 ...more
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
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
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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
Hariharan Gopalakrishnan
3.5 *s.
I found 'Man for all markets' (Ed Thorp's biography) sightly more interesting. I guess it couldn't be helped that Thorp has led a more interesting life than Simon's has (casinos, gambling, the mob etc.). But this does a solid job of explaining what Rentech, the company, is and does. And more importantly, it brings all the colorful characters in the company who work around Simons, to life.
Christian
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a story; the magnitude of absolute dominance Simons and RenTech have had over the markets in their 30+ years cannot be understated. Well-written with fun character development. Glad Zuckerman wrote this so outsiders could have a glimpse into the secretive fund.
Hao Wang
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing!

A book with alpha seeking process personal life of hardcore quants and alpha itself. The stories are inspiring and touching.
Grumpus
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.
David
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good and important investing book. Absolutely fascinating personalities.
Ruben
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting, with a surprising amount of mentions of familiar mathematicians
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
...more
Richard Zhu
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
RenTech was an "overnight" success decades in the making.
Trung Nguyen Dang
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
While the book was mostly entertaining enough (except for the last few chapters, more in it below), there was very little to learn about the Jim Simons or Renaissance Technologies (RT). It's also more like a book on the core people of RT than on Simons himself. The book also portrays Simons as just a manager of quants, rather than having any technical input. He also seems to be the least crazy of them all.
The last few chapters on the fight between Mercer and Magerman over Mercer's political
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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
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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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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
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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 ...more
Artur
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
The topic is of high interest to me but there's little of interest in it that wasn't public knowledge. Most of the new content regards Mercer and all the controversy surrounding him.
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 -
...more
George John
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Renaissance and Jim Simons are five star interesting characters in real life, but the book didn't capture the magic in my opinion. To be honest I stayed up past 3am reading it, but I think if I had not known some of these gents personally it would not have been as exciting.
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
...more
Neeraj M
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book. Covers a fair bit on Simons' trading approach.
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.
William Krasne
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zuckerman is a great financial journalist and this is on the level of his other books. Renaissance Technologies and Jim Simons have been objects of fascination in the financial community for years and he got access to that team and is able to shed some light on how they’ve achieved the incredible returns they’ve delivered over the past 30 years
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
Balazs Faluvegi
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gregory Zuckerman did it again. After the great Paulson book, this time he told us the story of an even more secretive Hedge Fund, the on which is above all in terms of performance numbers. I wasn't aware of the political connections, that the two most important owners of Renaissance Technologies were the #1 and #5 biggest donors of political organizations during the 2016 US elections, on the opposite sides! This inside sort-of-battle made the already amazing story even better at the end of the ...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
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“Truth in life is broad and nuanced; you can make all kinds of arguments, such as whether a president or person is fantastic or awful,” he says. “That’s why I love math problems—they have clear answers.” 1 likes
“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.” 0 likes
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