My first memory of Sam is from a workshop in Toronto. He came up to me after my talk, which I wasn't sure was successful as I saw eyes glazing over 15 minutes in, and said, emphatically and excitedly, it. Kicked. A**! This from a complete stranger immediately brightened things up. His own talk, and his other ones I attended since, were for me masterful tutorials in the art of presentation, both formal and informal. We overlapped at Gatsby; scanning through some of the postings here brings back the magical year I spent in London, where you'd go to a chemist for Advil, and where Sam and others awoke my inner Bayesian (I remember wondering, working at the office on Sunday afternoons with only a few people around, where everyone else was... Lazy Dog with Sam, mystery solved). After I moved to Microsoft Research, Sam's works on single microphone source separation and on locally linear embedding came out, making it seem the real fun at Gatsby was just beginning. A year or so later MSR offered Sam a position. We had dinner in downtown Seattle when he visited, and I said I wanted him to join me there. I remember writing a glowing review of his work for the interview loop and highlighting his recently published Science paper in red. Alas, Sam turned us down to go back to Toronto, and the fact he did the same to MIT was only a small consolation.
What made Sam special to me was a shared passion for machine learning in audition, which was relatively rare. As I was developing new algorithms post MSR, I remember having in the back of my mind this thought: one day, soon, I'll meet up with Sam and tell him about them, and we'll have an awesome, totally unpredictable conversation. Then time suddenly leaped ahead... one day we'll be able to run a model on his lecture videos and research papers and play his part of that conversation. Sam, I wish you could be around when we do this problem, that would make it so much fun.
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.
If you would like to add an article to this blog please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may leave a comment on any article. (Comments are moderated: please bear in mind that this is a place to remember Sam and to help celebrate his life.)
There is also an album of photographs for which contributions are welcome. Instructions on how to contribute appear next to album.