In 2008 there took place a six-months research programme at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, organised by David Banks, Peter Bickel, Iain Johnstone and myself. One of our main objectives was to stimulate interaction between people who would call themselves statisticians and people would be more used to referring to their activity as machine learning. Sam Roweis was near the top of the list of those from the latter community whom we hoped would participate and we were delighted that he was able to spend some time on the programme.
Our reason for inviting Sam was 'merely' our knowledge of the important work that he had done. I for one had not actually met him, and I have to say that I was taken aback by the personal characteristics, namely dynamism, sociability, kindness and general 'nice-ness', that complemented his obvious creativity and enthusiasm for his work. He entered into the spirit of the activities in the Institute and tried hard to persuade us to incorporate the sort of 5-minute spots referred to by David MacKay!
I only encountered him for about a month and yet his departure seems to have left a massive gap.
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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