## James Simons interview

James Simons. Differential geometry. Minimal varieties in riemannian manifolds. Shiing-Shen Chern. Characteristic Forms and Geometric Invariants. Renaissance Technologies.

“That’s really what’s great about basic science and in this case mathematics, I mean, I didn’t know any physics. It didn’t occur to me that this material, that Chern and I had developed would find use somewhere else altogether. This happens in basic science all the time that one guy’s discovery leads to someone else’s invention and leads to another guy’s machine or whatever it is. Basic science is the seed corn of our knowledge of the world. …I loved the subject, but I liked it for itself, I wasn’t thinking of applications. […] the government’s not doing such a good job at supporting basic science and so there’s a role for philanthropy, an increasingly important role for philanthropy.”

“My algorithm has always been: You put smart people together, you give them a lot of freedom, create an atmosphere where everyone talks to everyone else. They’re not hiding in the corner with their own little thing. They talk to everybody else. And you provide the best infrastructure. The best computers and so on that people can work with and make everyone partners.”

“We don’t have enough teachers of mathematics who know it, who know the subject … and that’s for a simple reason: 30-40 years ago, if you knew some mathematics, enough to teach in let’s say high school, there weren’t a million other things you could do with that knowledge. Oh yeah, maybe you could become a professor, but let’s suppose you’re not quite at that level but you’re good at math and so on.. Being a math teacher was a nice job. But today if you know that much mathematics, you can get a job at Google, you can get a job at IBM, you can get a job in Goldman Sachs, I mean there’s plenty of opportunities that are going to pay more than being a high school teacher. There weren’t so many when I was going to high school … so the quality of high school teachers in math has declined, simply because if you know enough to teach in high school you know enough to work for Google…”