Of course Jim Simons inspired a ballet.
The mathematical genius who founded the massive quant finance hedge fund Renaissance Technologies was visited during a lecture at Stony Brook University by choreographers Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selisson.
They were wow-ed. After they left, Selisson described the lecture to Three Village.
“Elements became more than dry definitions,” he said.
“They possessed characteristics and interacted with each other in very specific ways. … All of the sudden a world that was full of characters, each with their own personalities, emerged where once there was a theory we had heard of that was called differential cohomology.”
The choreographers had visited Simons’ lecture with the intention of learning about differential cohomology. Simons told the pair they would need 4 years to fully understand it, but, genius that he is, they left after just one of his lectures with a clear picture of how to create a dance based on the theory.
And apparently when “Differential Cohomology” opened Monday night, there was a rare mix of mathematicians and scientists in the audience.
Here’s what the dance looked like, according to Three Village.
The work opened with a pair of dancers moving closely within a hexagon of light cast from above, which remained a consistent image throughout the performance, as a key component of the theory of differential cohomology is the structure of a hexagon. As many as 10 dancers moving within a larger hexagon, in harmony or in opposition at various points in the choreography, filled the stage in an artistic representation of concepts such as “heavy,” “light,” “linear,” “geometric,” and “fluid.”
That’s gorgeous, but $100 says the real theory Simons understands is somehow even more beautiful.