Nowadays, Google has become part of our lives. The whole Internet depends on it to the extent that the company doesn’t have to advertise itself any more.
Today, when we search about Google, only two names pop up. One, Larry Page and the other, Sergey Brin.
No one knows about Rajeev Motwani who was the founding advisor to Google and the author of Google’s algorithmic architecture.
An ambitious boy who completed his engineering in computer science from IIT Kanpur, Rajeev went on to do his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988. Soon after that, he joined Stanford where he founded an umbrella organization for innovative minds.
He wrote an influential early paper on PageRank algorithm in which he was co-author with Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
PageRank algorithm was the basis for the search techniques of Google. Many of Google’s developers and researchers were taught and advised by Motwani including the first employee, Craig Silverstein.
A number of start ups that emerged from Stanford were co-invested in by Rajeev Motwani. Motwani sat on the board of companies like Google, Kaboodle, Mimosa Systems, Adchemy, Baynote, Vuclip, NeoPath Networks, Tapulous and Stanford Student Enterprises .
In 2009, the 47 year-old was found dead in his swimming pool after a freak drowning accident. There was no evidence of foul play and the cause of his death is still a mystery. People just called it an accident.
After Motwani’s death, as a tribute, Google’s founder Sergey Brin wrote
Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it. 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.
Motwani was a huge name in his field. IIT Kanpur has a building named after him.
His research includes data privacy, web search, robotics, and computational drug design. He is also one of the originators of the Locality-sensitive hashing algorithm. A humble, respectable and ambitious man who lived his dreams in whatever years he had.