mentor Rajeev Motwani dies in freak accident
Washington, June 7, 2009
Rajeev Motwani, the 47-year-old Indian-American computer science
professor at Stanford University who mentored Google's co-founders
when they were graduate students, has died from a freak drowning
accident at his Atherton, California home.
He apparently drowned Friday morning in a backyard swimming pool
at the home he purchased three years ago, according to the San
Jose Mercury News, a Silicon Valley news outlet.
Friends said he did not know how to swim but was planning to
He is survived by his wife Asha Jadeja and daughters Naitri and
Anya. The family will hold a private funeral, according to the
university's news agency, but a memorial service will be held
at a later date.
While little official information was available, friends speculated
that Motwani might have slipped and fallen in the pool, mercurynews.com
said. Paramedics were called when his body was found, and he was
pronounced dead at the scene at 12.28 p.m., according to the San
Mateo County coroner's office.
Born March 26, 1962, in Jammu, Motwani grew up in New Delhi,
earned a computer science degree from the Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT), Kanpur in 1983, and his doctorate from the University
of California-Berkeley in 1988.
As a Stanford professor, he also served as the director of graduate
studies for the computer science department and founded the Mining
Data at Stanford project (MIDAS).
His work had a major impact on the field of algorithms, and he
used his knowledge of that field to develop methods for searching
almost infinite archives of data by randomly selecting subsets
of the data. It was in the field of data mining that he made some
of his seminal contributions.
The field is the basis of much of modern Internet commerce and
the operation of search engines such as Google.
The news of Motwani's death struck like a thunderclap in Silicon
Valley. Blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter communications were
filled with testimonials to a brilliant, kind man who was never
too busy to help a budding entrepreneur or struggling graduate
student, Mercury News said.
He helped many Valley startups gain a foothold, but none so famous
as Google, whose cofounder Sergey Brin mourned him Saturday.
"I want him to really be remembered well. It's a rare combination
to have somebody who is so smart and also such a nice guy,"
Brin told Mercury News on the phone.
Motwani, he added, "had a lot of interest in computer science
theory. He's primarily a theoretician, and it's incredible the
amount of impact he has had directly on products and companies."
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