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Ben Taskar, 1977-2013

Ben TaskarIt is with deep sadness that we announce that Ben Taskar,  Boeing Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, passed away on the early morning of November 18 of sudden and severe heart failure.  Ben leaves behind his wife Anat Caspi, their two year old daughter Aviv Taskar, his mother, father, and sister, and an array of other family members, friends, and colleagues – all of whom will miss him tremendously.

Ben joined UW CSE one year ago.  He received his Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and spent 18 months as a postdoc at UC Berkeley and six years as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania before joining UW CSE as part of a “cluster hire” in data analytics that also included Emily Fox, Carlos Guestrin, and Jeff Heer.

When a 30-something person dies unexpectedly, leaving behind a spouse and a young child, it scarcely matters that he or she was one of the generation’s leading computer scientists.  Ben was that, though – an outstanding computer scientist, one of the very best of his generation.  He made many significant research contributions in areas spanning machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision.   We are devastated by his loss.  Even in a short time at UW, Ben’s brilliance, and his positive and gentle nature, made him admired and adored by everyone who knew him.

A website has been established where you can find details about the funeral, share your memories of Ben, and find information about the “Ben Taskar Family Benefit Fund,” created to help support Anat and Aviv in light of Aviv’s continued medical care needs.

Memorial website here.

GeekWire article here.

Seattle Times article here (pdf version here).

Daily Pennsylvanian article here.

UW CSE remembers Ben Taskar, here.

Memorial service at the University of Pennsylvania; program here.