James Simons — differential geometer, founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and co-founder of the Simons Foundation — has been called “reclusive” and “highly secretive” but his name was in the news the other day. MWA states (almost) explicitly that the Simons Foundation’s support has been unequivocally beneficial for mathematics, and this explains the red arrow on the right of the above diagram. From p. 105:
Simons is clearly as concerned as any mathematician, physicist, or biologist about the internal goods of their respective fields. His foundation bases its decisions on the advice of those within the fields who share these concerns.
and more generally, speaking of Simons as well as the Clay Mathematical Institute and the American Institute of Mathematics:
Whatever can be said about the sources of their generosity, the immediate effects of this kind of philanthropy on mathematics have been uniformly positive.
The “source” of the Simons Foundation’s “generosity” in the application of mathematics to finance is subjected to some scrutiny in MWA, but the broader point being made in these pages is rather this one:
The deeper irony is that the (ostensibly) democratically-based social institutions of government are perceived as less sympathetic to the “internal goods” of mathematical practice than the structures of megaloprepeia endowed by Powerful Beings like Clay, AIM, or Simons.
Now we can read in the Guardian that Simons earned $1,700,000,000 (approximately) in 2015 and that he is
the 50th richest person in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings last year were so large that if he were a country it would rate as the world’s 178th most productive nation, according to the World Bank’s GDP rankings.
No surprise there; but consider the Guardian‘s claim that Simons, along with fellow billionaire Kenneth Griffin of Citadel, “poured a lot of money into the presidential race, but both backed Republicans who dropped out.” Specifically, Griffin
in 2012 … described himself as a “Reagan Republican” and said he thought the rich had “insufficient influence” on the political process.
which is run from the tiny Long Island village of Setauket where Simons owns a huge beachfront compound, has donated $13m to Cruz’s failed campaign. With Cruz out of the race, Renaissance has switched donations to Hillary Clinton, with more than $2m donated so far. Euclidean Capital, Simon’s family office, has donated more than $7m to Clinton.
This explains the red arrow on the left of the diagram. The Guardian article added that Simons “has donated millions of dollars to maths and science education via the Simons Foundation he set up in 1994,” which suggests, perhaps erroneously, an isomorphism between the two terms at the top of the diagram. If the left-hand arrow were a weak equivalence, we would then be able to give an affirmative answer to the question in today’s title. However, the article asserts that Renaissance is good for Cruz, not the other way around; and the first thing one learns about ∞-categories is to make the distinction between inner horns, which can be completed to simplices, and outer horns, like the one in the diagram, which (in general) cannot.
Homotopy-theoretic considerations aside, I find it prima facie implausible that Renaissance, not to mention Simons, would have supported Ted Cruz. Unlike Cruz, the Simons Foundation is concerned about climate change; unlike Cruz (or at least his father), the Simons Foundation believes in evolution. So what’s going on?