I've known Sam since he visited Bell Labs in the late 90's while doing his PhD. From these early interactions I had already been impressed by his intelligence, his warmth, and his outstanding ability to generously communicate and clarify ideas for others. Unsurprisingly, he quickly became a rising star in our field. He was one of the persons that made my trip to a meeting or conference worthwhile, since exchanging with him was always stimulating and heartwarming. He made me feel like his friend and valued what I expressed, in the way that counts the most for me, i.e., by truly trying to understand my ideas and bringing his own creative mind to the table. In turn, he sparkled my imagination with his own insights, making concepts that were previously fuzzy for me suddenly simple and obvious. In five minutes he managed to summarize the core idea in someone else's talk or paper, probably much better than the authors. Clearly, he was a teacher for me.
Very early in the morning after his death, I awoke with a message from Yann LeCun about the news. I was completely shocked. I felt disbelief and a loss akin to one I had felt a few years earlier when my closest cousin had died in a meaningless accident. Writing these words my throat is bursting with emotion. I am clinging to the image of his communicative smile.
So long, Sam, and thank you for everything you brought to this world. I will forever remember the beautiful human being you were, and for me and the many others you have interacted with, you will remain an intellectual giant of our community and hold a special place in our heart.
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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