Memories of Bob Keller, Page 2

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Graham Orr '09

Student and Friend

I took Bob’s Jazz Improv class for four consecutive terms. It developed its own culture, bands, friends. Stress relief.

Bob possessed a killer combo of technical prowess and musical creativity unique to the HMC community. Bob extended his CS genius as a superb musician that regularly played with notable industry pros, but was always down for an impromptu jam.

We played jazz in the CS lab in the library. Between his class and the several 5C bands he supported, it was the spot 3-4 times a week.

I venture to say that HMC may never recover from the loss of some elements of his genius and talent. I deeply feel for Noel and family, whom has graciously served HMC and brightened the lives of all students.

Samantha Long

Summer Intern

Prof Keller was my first mentor in tech. I still remember coming across his music-related software Impro-Visor online, it was the first time I felt real, giddy, excitement about a project that so easily combined two of my interests, music and computer science. It was an incredible moment, my first time really discovering someone shared the same niche passions that I did. After I mustered up the courage to send him an email, I crossed my fingers hoping he’d reply back and to my surprise, he did. I was still in high school then, awkward and unconfident about my abilities but Professor Keller had a knack of believing in everyone and even gave me a chance. I remember meeting him for the first time, talking to him in his cramped yet cozy office where he first showed me ImproVisor. He was kind, patient, intelligent, and always learning. I admire all of these things about him. Dr. Keller allowed me to get a glimpse into research, and allowed me to get to meet a really wonderful team of students that were so diverse and intelligent and musical. Working on Improvisor was crazy, feeling like I belonged to something much greater than me and I will never forget it. Funnily enough, even after my internship ended, Dr. Keller and my path crossed yet again at UCSD where I attend school. He had moved there during my first/second year and was collaborating with another Professor there. I remember running to his classroom after a music class I had in the same building, but he wasn’t there. Just as I turned back, there he was walking towards me. We hugged, and briefly caught up. It was great, knowing my first mentor was so near me again, I thought it was so coincidental, life’s funny like that. I think in the back of my mind, knowing I had his support and that he believed in me, made me proud. I would always try to go to any concerts he invited me to where he would always be taking notes and asking questions. He even attended my high school Tech Fair. I attended so many of his presentations of ImoroVisor, and was even one of the presenters once. Through all my experiences with Dr. Keller, he inspired me so much. I wanted to be like him, be so committed to furthering the community of musical tech hobbyists, be kind and encouraging to others even those who knew nearly nothing, and to always be learning. I will always carry this spirit of his forward. Thank you for giving me a chance, I will never forget that. Rest in Peace Dr. Keller, I will always remember you! #ImproVisorForever

Andi Chen


It’s very sad to hear that Prof Keller passed away. I had great luck to have taken complexity and logic and Jazz Improv class from Prof Keller. His passion for Jazz was very inspirational for me, and will be deeply remembered and missed.

Irma E Ward


I will forever miss my dear brother who, unknowingly, taught me so much; more than he would have known. One of my favorite memories was the magic shows that Bob would put on. He was the master magician and I was the assistant. We would put on shows in our basement, or on stage at the local church, for the neighborhood kids. Bob would build elaborate setups for his disappearing act and performed with the perfect background music. It was a lot of fun for all. Rest in peace dear brother.

Brian Bentow '05


Prof Keller was a great professor and friend!

He lead by example: he applied computer science to his passion for Jazz. He taught us that combining your passions is better than feeling that you have to give up one of them. He let his passion for Jazz music motivate and drive his research.
He encouraged us to develop our research skills. When I took Neural Networks with him, did Summer Research, or Clinic, he encouraged us to read other people’s work, attempt to replicate their results, and then take it to the next level.
He encouraged us to work on novel projects of our own design. That was my favorite thing about taking his upper level classes. I convinced other students to take his classes with me so that we could work on cool projects together.
He took himself very seriously and was very hard working. I still remember when I took CS 60 from him and I was impressed that he created Rex and handled us a massive binder that he created himself for the course.
He was extremely knowledgeable and I could count on him for insights about problems that I might face.
I would email him late at night or early in the morning with a question and he would reply quickly which was extremely helpful when facing a deadline.
When I took databases from him, he was supportive when another student and I wanted to build something for Student Security Party management. He never stifled our creativity.

He made funny, snarky comments when we would have lunch or dinner together about technologies or approaches that he didn’t think were great.

I have very fond memories of doing Summer Research with him and the way that he motivated us to not get “scooped.” Ironically, we eventually got “scooped” anyway. He told me to focus on areas that are being overlooked by other people; not to follow the most recent popular trend. He predicted the resurgence of Neural Networks after the Neural Network winter. He had wisdom.

I feel very fortunate I got to spend so much time with Prof Keller. He was my CS Degree advisor and Clinic Advisor. I had the opportunity to do Summer Research, CS 60, Databases, and Neural Networks with him. We had many lunches and dinners together.

I am so grateful to him for giving me a Summer Research position as a freshman and writing recommendations for me which helped me win the Microsoft Technical Scholarships two years in a row. Of all of the great Professors that I had when I attended Harvey Mudd, Prof Keller had the biggest impact on me by a LARGE margin.

The Harvey Mudd community and I will surely miss him immensely.