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Brin remembers Rajeev Motwani

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Rajeev Motwani - the Stanford University professor who served as mentor to Larry Page and Sergey Brin as they developed what would become Google - was found dead on Friday morning after an apparent accidental drowning.

Though he was not Page and Brin's official adviser at Stanford, the Stanford computer scientist co-authored two papers with the pair (and another Stanford professor) that helped define Google's seminal PageRank algorithm.

"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," Brin wrote on his blog late Friday night - his first post in over nine months.

"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."

According to The San Jose Mercury News, Motwani held a party Thursday night at his home to celebrate the end of the school year. After his guests left, he went outside to enjoy a cigar, and a nanny found him dead in his swimming pool the next morning. Apparently, Motwani did not know how to swim. He lived in the house with his wife and two daughters.

Motwani was an early investor in both Google and PayPal, and he was a special adviser to Sequoia Capital, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm. According to the Wall Street Journal, he served as an informal adviser to several other startups and VC firms, backing such companies as Aster Data Systems, CastTV, Jaxtr, and StumbleUpon.

"Rajeev remained a friend and advisor as he has with many people and startups since," Brin wrote. "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." ®

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