Cops probe Google mentor Motwani's death

IANS
Jun 08, 2009 at 02:40pm IST

Washington: The US police is waiting for an autopsy before investigating the apparent accidental drowning death of Rajeev Motwani, IIT-educated, Stanford professor who inspired the co-founders of Google and influenced a generation of computer scientists.

"We're kind of in limbo," Atherton, California police Sgt. Tim Lynch was cited as saying by San Jose Mercury News, a Silicon Valley news outlet. "It could have been a simple accident or many other things."

ALSO SEE Motwani's contribution to theoretical computing science

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

UNDONE TASK: Motwani had long since planned to learn swimming. (Photo courtesy: theory.stanford.edu)

According to Lynch, police received an emergency call Friday morning from someone about an apparent drowning in the backyard pool of Motwani's house on Atherton Avenue.

He said town firefighters and a police officer pulled Motwani's body from the bottom of the pool and, not finding any evidence of foul play, called the coroner's office.

Friends cited by Mercury News said Motwani, 47, did not know how to swim but was planning to take lessons. He had moved into the house three years ago with his wife and two daughters.

After receiving a stream of visitors on Friday and Saturday, the family taped a guest book to their mailbox asking well-wishers to sign up for private visits later.

"Please bear with us," they wrote on a sheet of paper on the box. "Thank you for reaching out to us."

Motwani's friends and colleagues in the Silicon Valley chapter of The Indus Engineers, or TiE, were planning a memorial service in his honour on Wednesday, according to Vish Mishra, a friend of Motwani's and venture director at Clearstone Venture Partners. No other details were available till Sunday afternoon.

TiE is a nonprofit, professional association for high-tech workers with roots in the India subcontinent. TiE members and graduate students routinely sought out Motwani for advice and encouragement.

Born in Jammu in 1962, Motwani studied computer science at IIT Kanpur and at UC-Berkeley. He made his mark at Stanford by developing methods of searching through the vast, seemingly chaotic amount of data on the Internet.

His contributions to the field of "data mining" influenced Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Stanford alumni who founded the search engine Google.

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