de.tech.ting

Google's Sergey Brin remembers his teacher

Posted by andreaitis on June 6, 2009

Rajeev Motwani

Image by drona via Flickr

We know the faces of modern technology: Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

We don’t often know the faces behind them, the people who advise and guide and push.

Stanford Professor and savvy angel investor Rajeev Motwani was one of those faces. Today, the tech community is still reeling from his unexpected and untimely death.  Google founder Sergey Brin is among those trying to make sense of it.

As he wrote on his blog:

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of my teacher and good friend Professor Rajeev Motwani. But I would rather not dwell on the sorrow of his death and instead celebrate his life.

Officially, Rajeev was not my advisor, and yet he played just as big a role in my research, education, and professional development. In addition to being a brilliant computer scientist, Rajeev was a very kind and amicable person and his door was always open. No matter what was going on with my life or work, I could always stop by his office for an interesting conversation and a friendly smile.

When my interest turned to data mining, Rajeev helped to coordinate a regular meeting group on the subject. Even though I was just one of hundreds of graduate students in the department, he always made the time and effort to help. Later, when Larry and I began to work together on the research that would lead to Google, Rajeev was there to support us and guide us through challenges, both technical and organizational.

via too: Remembering Rajeev

Professor Motwani founded the Mining Data at Stanford project (MIDAS), an umbrella organization exploring next-gen data management concepts. As an academic, he focused on web search,  data privacy, robotics, computational drug design and theoretical computer science.  He As a friend and advisor, he was always helpful…and always there.

Om Malik remembers:

I have known Rajeev, his wife Asha and their family for a long time. Rajeev, like me, was from New Delhi. In my professional career (and personal moments of crisis) Rajeev was only a phone call away, sharing his vast rolodex. Just like a true friend. Only a few weeks back, I had a simple Indian lunch in his house with his family. I am sure, I am not the only one who has benefited from his generosity of time and knowledge and his ability to create connections and help others.

Events like this force us to reflect, to think of and hopefully thank those who have helped us along our way.  While many never even  heard of  Professor Motwani before now, Sergey Brin reminds us:

Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it.

We wish his family comfort and strength.

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One Response to “Google's Sergey Brin remembers his teacher”

  1. mrsandyclark said

    Andreaitis,

    I never met Professor Motwani, but I think those that commented painted a good picture of a generous man. It is important to let the people in our lives know how we feel about them and thank them along the way as you just never know.

    You, Om Malik and Sergey Brin inspire me with your words and I take a little comfort in the fact Rajeev Motwani has had an impact on my life whether I know it or not.

    I hope all those in his life find peace.

    Sandy

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