Stanford professor Rajeev Motwani was found dead in his swimming pool on Friday, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. During their time at the university, Google (GOOG) cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin looked to Rajeev as a mentor. He’s said to have played a crucial role in Google’s creation.
Sergey Brin posted the following note to his personal blog after hearing the news:
It has been a long time since I have updated this blog. In fact, I have been doing some research for what I thought would be my next post.
Unfortunately, life does not always give you the luxury to plan what may be close to your heart next. 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.
Eventually, as Google emerged from Stanford, Rajeev remained a friend and advisor as he has with many people and startups since. Of all the faculty at Stanford, it is with Rajeev that I have stayed the closest and I will miss him dearly. Yet his legacy and personality lives on in the students, projects, and companies he has touched. Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it.