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Daniel M. Lewin

Daniel M. Lewin SM ’98, a member of the Laboratory for Computer Science and co-founder of Akamai Technologies, was among those killed in yesterday’s attack on the World Trade Center. Lewin was on board American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles when it crashed yesterday in New York city. He was 31 years old.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science David R. Karger, who co-authored a paper with Lewin, said of him: “I have never encountered anyone with the combination of brilliance and drive that he had.”

In a statement, Akamai chairman and CEO George H. Conrades said, “Danny was a wonderful human being. He will be deeply missed by his many friends at Akamai. Our thoughts and prayers are with Danny’s family, friends and colleagues during this time of national tragedy and personal loss.”

Interim Director of LCS Victor W. Zue called on the LCS community yesterday to join in a moment of silence.

Lewin was a graduate student at LCS when he developed technology that enabled content on the world wide web to be delivered more quickly. That technology formed the basis for Akamai Technologies, which was one of the early stars of the Internet economy. Lewin founded Akamai along with Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science F. Thomson Leighton; many MIT students and faculty were among the first employees of Akamai. It was, in large part, Lewin’s research into speeding the delivery of web content which enabled popular web sites to deliver news of yesterday’s events, despite overwhelming demand. Lewin was able to turn his research into reality in a way that made an impact on the world, Karger said.

In the two years before he left MIT to found Akamai, Lewin authored a number of papers in the area of theoretical computer science. Karger said that it was “already clear he was going to be of the first caliber as an academic.” While emphasizing the loss to Lewin’s family, he said that “the amount of lost accomplishment in that one person was tremendous.”

Lewin is survived by his wife and two sons.