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Rajeev Motwani, Google founders' mentor found dead in swimming pool

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Google founders' mentor found dead in swimming pool


Rajeev Motwani, Stanford professor who worked with search engine founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, dies aged 47




A US computer science professor who played a key role in the creation of the internet search giant Google has been found dead at the age of 47 after apparently falling into his swimming pool.

Rajeev Motwani was mentor to Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, when they were PhD students at Stanford university. His body was found in the pool of his home in Atherton, California, on Friday.

A spokesman for the university said the cause of death was unclear. Friends said he could not swim, but was planning to learn. Some reports speculated that Motwani, who regularly worked late into the night, could have accidentally fallen into the pool after going outside in the dark.

On his blog, Brin led tributes to Motwani as the inspiration behind a number of computing advances. "Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it," he wrote.

"When Larry and I began to work together on the research that would lead to Google, Rajeev was there to support us and guide us through challenges, both technical and organisational."

A 1998 paper written by Page, Brin and Motwani, unearthed by the blog TechCrunch, discussed the development of Google. "We have developed a global ranking of web pages called PageRank based on the link structure of the web that has properties that are useful for search and navigation … We have used PageRank to develop a novel search engine called Google, which also makes heavy use of anchor text," it said.

Stanford said Motwani's work on data mining influenced the way algorithms are used in Google searches. It pointed out that he was also an influential investor who backed the initial development of what turned out to be a number of successful hi-tech companies and initiatives, including the internent payment giant PayPal.

"Rajeev's connections to Silicon Valley were all important, but he will be remembered most for the personal friendships he had with students, faculty colleagues and staff in the department. We will all miss him tremendously," Jim Plummer, the dean of the school of engineering, told the university's news service.

Motwani was born in Jammu, India, and grew up in New Delhi. He travelled to the United States for his doctorate in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is survived by his wife, Asha Jadeja, and two daughters.

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