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Famed Google mentor found dead in swimming pool

Family's nanny found Motwani’s body in the swimming pool. Soon after, paramedics were called who pronounced him dead at the scene at 12:28 p.m.

Los Angeles, June 8: The tech community has tragically lost its much loved computer science expert, Rajeev Motwani, in a drowning accident on Friday, June 5, 2009. The Stanford University professor Motwani died unexpectedly at his Atherton, CA home on Friday. He was 47.

The India-born professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, who was also the early mentor of Google Inc and Paypal, apparently died after drowning in a backyard swimming pool on Friday morning at his Bay area home he purchased three years ago.

Family's nanny found Motwani’s body in the swimming pool. Soon after, paramedics were called who pronounced him dead at the scene at 12:28 p.m., according to the San Mateo County coroner’s office.

Motwani, who was born in Jammu, grew up in Delhi and graduated from IIT Kanpur, did not know how to swim but was planning to take lessons, reported, citing his friends.

Though there was no official word about the cause of death, friends and local reports say he may have drowned accidentally.

Meanwhile, local police authorities on Sunday said they are waiting for an autopsy before investigating the apparent accidental drowning death of Motwani renowned for mentoring Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, when they were graduate students.

"We're kind of in limbo," Atherton police Sgt. Tim Lynch said. "It could have been a simple accident or many other things."

According to Lynch, police received an emergency call Friday morning from Motwani's house on Atherton Avenue. Town firefighters and a police officer then reached the spot and pulled Motwani's body from the bottom of the pool. They found no evidence of foul play, and called the San Mateo County coroner's office.

Lynch said investigators with the coroner's office had not reported back to the police by Sunday afternoon.

Reaction to Motwani’s untimely demise
Motwani’s tragic death news spread quickly on the Internet, sending his friends and the tech community into gloom.

Remembering Motwani, Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote Friday on his blog: "Officially, Rajeev was not my advisor, and yet he played just as big a role in my research, education, and professional development."

Brin further wrote. "In addition to being a brilliant computer scientist, Rajeev was a very kind and amicable person and his door was always open. No matter what was going on with my life or work, I could always stop by his office for an interesting conversation and a friendly smile."

"Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it."

Motwani’s sudden demise also stunned his friend and colleague Vish Mishra, who said: "We are all in a state of shock and grief." Mishra is a venture director at Clearstone Venture Partners.

About Rajeev Motwani
Born March 26, 1962, in Jammu, Professor Motwani earned a computer science degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur in 1983, and obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Berkeley in 1988.

Motwani, who as a Stanford professor also served as the Director of Graduate Studies, worked in a diverse set of areas in computer science, including databases, data mining, and data privacy, web search and information retrieval, robotics, computational drug design, and theoretical computer science.

He was also a member of boards or advisory boards of Google, Mimosa Systems, Neopath Networks, Revenue Science, Stanford Student Enterprises Ventures, and Vuclipa, among others.

Motwani authored two books- Randomized Algorithms published by Cambridge University Press in 1995, and an undergraduate textbook published by Addison-Wesley in 2001. He also founded the Mining Data at Stanford project (MIDAS).

He won numerous awards during his career that include the prestigious Godel Prize, the Okawa Foundation Research Award, the Arthur Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Kanpur, the Bergmann Memorial Award from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and an IBM Faculty Award.

Motwani is survived by his wife, Asha Jadeja, and daughters Naitri and Anya.