I first met Sam at ICML 2006. I was a graduate student at my first conference, intimidated by so many people whose names, but not faces, I recognized. I appreciated Sam taking time to offer his thoughts on my paper and taking me seriously when even I did not.
A year later, I got to know Sam better during my internship at Google. I was surprised how generous Sam was with his time – I was learning material that was new and difficult for me, and Sam helped make the new ideas seem both clear and natural. He spent quite a bit of time working with me that summer and doing it mostly for my benefit.
Afterwards, we occasionally exchanged research ideas, and he was so excited about the research directions he told me about that I could not help become excited as well. His questions were so seemingly simple and plainly elegant one could not avoid thinking about them. We were just starting to work on one of those problems, and I was excited about the prospect of getting to work with him again.
Sam’s death is both shocking and incomprehensible to me. I was lucky to have gotten to know Sam. I was continually struck not only by his thoughtfulness, but also by his patience and enthusiasm. He was a gifted researcher, teacher, and promoter of his field. Sam’s contributions to machine learning clearly extended well beyond his research. He will be very missed.
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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