Yesterday brought the tragic news that Mihai Pătraşcu—who revolutionized the field of data structures since he burst onto the scene a decade ago—has passed away at the age of 29, after a year-and-a-half-long battle with brain cancer. Mihai was not only an outstanding researcher but a fun-loving, larger-than-life personality in the computer science theory community. For more information, see Lance and Bill’s or Michael Mitzenmacher’s blogs.
Mihai was an MIT CS PhD student (advised by Erik Demaine), who worked on the same floor as me for the first couple years I was here. I’m still in shock over his loss—I hadn’t even known about the cancer before yesterday. Mihai and I had pretty big disagreements, mostly over the viability of quantum computing, the “technical” versus “conceptual” theory debate, various things he wrote on his blog and various things I wrote on mine. But it seems terribly stupid now to have let this stuff get in the way of collegiality. I feel guilty for not trying to mend bridges with him when I had the chance.
Rest in peace, Mihai.