I knew Sam for many years as a central figure at NIPS, and had only just begun to know him as a collaborator and friend when he moved to NYU.
Sam was a gem - as a thinker, as a colleague, and as a teacher. His first talk here, last September, was presented in a room overflowing with multi-disciplinary colleagues from departments throughout the university. Many of us sat on the floor, or stood out in the hallway, knowing that it would be well worth the discomfort. The talk was punctuated throughout with lively discussion, all ignited by Sam's brilliance, vibrancy and enthusiasm. Over the course of the Fall term, he came to quite a few of my group meetings, infusing each of them with that same boundless energy, penetrating and critical rationality, and the sheer joy with which he grappled with difficult problems. Even those who had never met him before were amazed and delighted by his spirit.
And from my brief encounter with the family side of his life, I have a clear image of him holding one of his daughters in our kitchen, showing her the clementines and various shiny utensils, and taking delight in her intent visual, tactile (and gustatory!) exploration.
I am grateful for the brief time I had with Sam. His death, so shockingly incongruous, has left me reeling. I hope we, his colleagues, collaborators, and friends, can find a way to understand it. Most of all, I hope that Meredith, and someday Aya and Orli, may draw strength and comfort from the affection we all felt for him.
Sam Roweis died unexpectedly on January 12, 2010.
He was a truly wonderful person; a beloved son, husband and father; and a treasured friend and colleague.
This is a place for all of us who were lucky enough to know Sam to share our memories and to help celebrate his life.
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