I've tried to write this several times now, but the words somehow never seem right nor do they quite live up to the memory of Sam. He was awesomely warm, generous, kind, funny, brilliant; he had a really rare and amazing energy about him. Interactions with Sam so often left me feeling inspired -- to do more and become better -- both as a scientist and on a personal level. I feel very fortunate to have been his friend.
Sam and I first met when I joined the Gatsby Unit as a grad student back in 2000, and I was immediately struck by his tremendous friendliness, humour and warmth -- he was just great at making people feel naturally welcome and at ease. I have vivid memories of him presenting machine learning courses, and many tea talks and journal clubs whilst we were there. He had an uncanny ability to take complicated ideas, and convey them (excitedly) in such a way as to make them seem natural (and frequently funny). An iconic recollection of Sam is the way he'd come up to you with a gleam in his eye and tell you about the latest cool algorithmic trick he'd found out about; always genuinely happy and excited to share his knowledge. Then he'd proceed to explain the details lucidly and concisely -- often taking a whole paper or subject area and condensing it into a key insight so that you just "got it".
There are also loads of great memories from the many brunches, dinners, parties and random social occasions in London, Toronto, and of course NIPS. Consistently good times. And Sam would always make sure that everyone present felt welcome and included. He was as fun to be around socially as he was rewarding to interact with professionally -- which is to say extremely.
To Meredith and his family, my heart goes out to you. I find the events incredibly hard to process and so can only begin to imagine the pain of your loss.
Sam, you'll be missed dearly and fondly remembered. The personal and intellectual impressions you left on me, and on so many others, will ensure that even in death you'll live on in our minds, our work, and in our hearts.
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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