Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Partha Niyogi (1967-2010)

University of Chicago Computer Science and Statistics Professor Partha Niyogi passed away on Friday after a battle with brain cancer. Partha worked in machine learning in a number of theoretical and applied areas, particularly memorable for his use of manifold theory in semi-supervised learning.

I knew Partha well from my years at Chicago. It's hard to lose someone who was a close colleague and friend, especially when they die so young. A great loss.

27 comments:

  1. I am saddened and shocked. Knew him from Bell Labs days and unfortunately never visited him in Chicago despite being nearby. I admired the ease with which he spanned different areas in CS. A great loss indeed.

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  2. Rest In Peace.


    Like Chandra, I also knew Partha from his Bell Lab days. He had the curiosity and enthusiasm of a child which a lot of us unfortunately lose after our PhD. I met him again at a conference, where he looked weaker, but still had that same curiosity. He never told me that he was suffering from a deadly disease. I wish (too late) I had kept up my connection with him.

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  3. I knew Partha since 2005. It was a great experience getting to know him and also interacting with him. He had a special gift in approaching problems out of the box always. I will miss him and wish him a peaceful rest.

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  4. How terribly sad. I crossed paths with Partha during my time at U of C in 1999-2001. He introduced me to SVM and we had many interesting discussions, about this and many other topics (including cricket!) An original and excellent researcher and a great guy. We were in touch at various times since, but I had no idea he was so ill and was shocked to hear the news. RIP and special condolences to his family.

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  5. This is once again one of those incredible sad stories.

    Was he married with children ... if so, I cannot imagine the pain that he must have left behind ....

    great loss ? surely. but words aren't useful and truthful approximations to describe the sorrow and pain left behind.

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  6. As a Uchicago grad student (non-CS PhD) who took his Machine Learning class, I consider myself lucky to have had the chance. He was a gifted,inspiring professor and kind man.

    Terribly sad.

    May his family find peace, and take comfort in his warm remembrance.

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  7. As one of his advisees, it is difficult to put in words how much and in how many different ways, he advised my thinking and approach to research in general. He was one of those very few people I met who always approached all problems with an open mind and stressed on the importance of simple solutions that could be easily explained. (Un)Surprisingly, he could more often than not, come up with such brilliant solutions. And, boy did he love talking! It was great fun to discuss and argue with him for hours on topics as diverse as cricket, IIT, food, city-life, neuroscience and the like. The void that he leaves behind is profound and probably very difficult to be filled in the years to come.

    It is very disturbing to imagine what his family is going through right now. My heartfelt condolences to them. I sincerely hope he has gone to a better place.

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  8. Is there a correlation between working at a CS department & having brain cancer? In UMaryland I know two cs profs, including one theorist, had brain cancer (only one survived -- not the theorist).

    Maybe those wireless networking "researchers" are putting experimental devices that end up cooking our brains..

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  9. I think Ingo Wegener also died from Brain cancer.

    Sitting in areas that have lots of normal wireless devices (e.g. for using the wireless internet) is likely not good for you. Of course cs departments have many such devices normally.

    In general, people probably need to be more concerned about the health effects of technology: cell phones, cell phone towers, airport scanners, wi-fi stations, etc.

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  10. This is so sad. I read his Laplacian Eigenmap and other manifold learning papers when I first started as a grad student, and met Partha when he visited our group two years ago. He was so kind, energetic and healthy at that time. It's really shocking to hear this. Rest in Peace.

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  11. A great researcher is lost. A few times I talked to him convinced me that he is a truly open minded and capable scientist. He will live through his work for many years to come, if not for ever.

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  12. My deepest condolences to Dr. Niyogi's family and close friends. This is, indeed, a terrible loss, not just to the CS/machine learning community (as other commenters here have attested), but also to the linguistics world. I knew of him through his work on computational and mathematical models of language acquisition and change. His 2006 book greatly influenced the direction of my thesis research, and will likely continue to influence my future directions for several years. Truly, he was a deep thinker, and a polymath. RIP.

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  13. I'm so so sorry to hear that. That's sad...

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  14. I'm so sorry to hear this! He was a good friend and colleague. I will miss him very much.

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  15. I am deeply saddened to hear this news. Partha Niyogi was a great man. I met him last year at the machine learning summer school and had tons of conversations with him. We talked about research, his time at IIT and life in general. When I told him that I tried contacting him for a particular problem, he became very quiet. He told me that he was going through a bad time...

    He will be missed.

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  16. This is a horrifying news. Although I met Partha only twice some years back I liked to follow and get inspired by his excellent unconventional and solid work. I'll miss him.

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  17. Like many other studious schoolboys of that time, I first came across Partha Niyogi's name as he topped the first Agrawal test for students working to get into IIT. He stood All 6th in India in the IIT Entrance exam in 1985. Clearly gifted. And he lived up to that potential and, but for this cruel twist of fate, would have continued to do so. A big loss.

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  18. There will be a service to honor Partha Nyogi's memory this Saturday, at 2 PM in Bond Chapel, at the University of Chicago campus.

    The Computer Science Department and the University will organize a scientific conference during the next year.

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  19. Deeply saddened, a little shocked given his age. I met his once last year. He was very generous with his time and encouraging.

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  20. Partha Niyogi was a great researcher, and a joy to talk with. We will miss him dearly.

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  21. I was reading about SVMs when I decided to Google the man who introduced me to them, with the thought that I might take a look at what he's been up to. How sad and shocking to read this instead. My condolences to his family and friends. He was a unique intellect and I wish I had gotten to know him better while I was at Chicago.

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  22. I just stumbled upon this piece of tragic news on the web today.

    Partha was my classmate at St. Columba's School Delhi.

    I will always remember him as a brilliant and very hardworking student. Exceptionally gifted, he would easily top any test or exam at school.

    May God bless him and give his family and friends the fortitude to bear this terrible loss.

    Rest in peace.
    Deeply saddened, Suraj Sabberwal


    Rest in peace.

    Deeply saddened, Suraj Sabberwal

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  23. very sad. saw his paper on laplacian eigenmaps and on a whim googled him.. good wishes to his family and friends...

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