As Stanford’s Tenth President, I would like to welcome all of you–colleagues from Stanford, Berkeley, and Silicon Valley, Rajeev’s friends and family from here and from India to this celebration. On behalf of the entire university, I would like to express our deepest condolences to Asha, Naitri, and Anya, and the other members of Rajeev’s family with us today.
Our celebration today represents three aspects of Rajeev’s life. We began earlier today with a technical workshop related to Rajeev’s interest and contributions to algorithms. Here in Memorial Church we have a vast community of friends, colleagues and family gathering to celebrate him and his cointribution to their lives. We will close the day with the third of Rajeev’s passions, music, by listening to one of his favorite bands, Indian Ocean in Frost Amphitheater.
It was 20 years ago when, after spending a year as a visitor, Rajeev was appointed as a regular faculty member at Stanford. We knew based on his thesis work at Berkeley that we were getting an extraordinary and promising theoretician. Indeed, I still remember my colleague Don Knuth enthusiastically presenting the case for appointing Rajeev.
Don was, of course, right, but in fact, we all underestimated the incredible scholar, teacher, advisor, colleague, and friend that Rajeev would become.
I had the opportunity to see how Rajeev grew and fulfilled that promise as a colleague in Computer Science, and as the dean of engineering school at the time his tenure case came up. In that space of seven years, Rajeev had not only made some incredible research contributions, but he had become one of the departments best teachers, was coauthor of a major new book on Randomized Algorithms, and had been the advisor to a set of incredibly strong PhD graduates.
But Rajeev was not done exceeding our expectations yet. He went on during the next few years to become a collaborator with colleagues from across the department doing work in areas from web search to data bases and data mining to robotics. In these collaborations, Rajeev brought both his own incredible problem solving skills, but also his good natured collegiality and generous spirit which made him such a valued partner to his colleagues. By the time of his promotion to full professor in 2002, he had published more than 100 journal and conference papers, received a number of major awards,
and coauthored Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation, a major revision of the book by Hopcroft and Ullman that had sparked my interest in computer science 25 years earlier.
But, the turn of the decade was just the beginning of Rajeev’s career as an entrepreneur, and once again he surprised us and surpassed our expectations, becoming a highly successful angel investor and advisor to a number of young entrepreneurs and their companies.
In the classic American movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the angel who has been sent to save George Bailey, says:
“Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?”
Rajeev’s life touched so many of us; we were privileged to have him as a friend and colleague for so many years, and we will miss him greatly.