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Media Lab Post-Doc Found Dead Tuesday

By Jenny Zhang
and Marie Y. Thibault
NEWS EDITORS

MIT Media Laboratory post-doctoral associate Pushpinder Singh ’98 was found dead in his apartment by his girlfriend on Tuesday, Feb. 28, according to Senior Associate Dean for Students Robert M. Randolph.

The death is being investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney, said MIT Police Chief John DiFava, who would not further comment on the circumstances surrounding the death.

However, EECS professor Patrick H. Winston ’65 said in his class Wednesday that the cause of death was suicide. Winston said he had said that at the time based on speculation, because other than back problems, Singh appeared to be in good health.

Singh “was a wonderful kid” who had a brilliant career ahead. He was gregarious, and would often pick up his laptop to sit in the lounge and talk to people who came by as he worked, Winston said.

Although Singh “always had a very positive outlook,” he had injured his back and been in a lot of pain for some time, Winston said.

At the end of January, Singh had given a talk at MIT Endicott House in Dedham. He “seemed a little down at the time,” and Winston said he thought at the time that it was because of the back pain. “He gave a great talk” and “we were all looking forward to the next one,” Winston said.

Singh received both his Master of Engineering and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. According to his Web site, Singh would have joined Media Lab faculty next year.

Bo Morgan G, who was advised by Singh through his undergraduate and graduate years, said Singh “had a way of showing people the future,” and inspired students. Singh studied the most abstract aspects of artificial intelligence, Morgan said.

Singh had written on his Web site, “My long-term goal is to understand how minds work, so that I can construct a machine that thinks. No small task, but I do have the advantage of an amazing mentor, the redoubtable Marvin Minsky.” Minsky could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Singh is survived by his parents and siblings, Randolph said. Two memorial services will be held: one today, and another at MIT next week, Randolph said.