Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of six. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he enrolled in Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. There he met Page, with whom he built a web search engine. The program became popular at Stanford, and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in Susan Wojcicki's garage in Menlo Park.
The Brin family lived in a three-room apartment in central Moscow, which they also shared with Sergey's paternal grandmother. In 1977, after his father returned from a mathematics conference in Warsaw, Poland, Mikhail Brin announced that it was time for the family to emigrate. They formally applied for their exit visa in September 1978, and as a result, his father was "promptly fired". For related reasons, his mother had to leave her job. For the next eight months, without any steady income, they were forced to take on temporary jobs as they waited, afraid their request would be denied as it was for many refuseniks. In May 1979, they were granted their official exit visas and were allowed to leave the country.
During an orientation for new students at Stanford, he met Larry Page. The two men seemed to disagree on most subjects, but after spending time together they "became intellectual soul-mates and close friends." Brin's focus was on developing data mining systems while Page's was in extending "the concept of inferring the importance of a research paper from its citations in other papers". Together, they authored a paper titled "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine".
To convert the backlink data gathered by BackRub's web crawler into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin and Page developed the PageRank algorithm, and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to those existing at the time. The new algorithm relied on a new kind of technology that analyzed the relevance of the backlinks that connected one Web page to another, and allowed the number of links and their rank, to determine the rank of the page.
Page and Brin
Combining their ideas, they began utilizing Page's dormitory room as a machine laboratory, and extracted spare parts from inexpensive computers to create a device that they used to connect the nascent search engine with Stanford's broadband campus network.
After filling Page's room with equipment, they then converted Brin's dorm room into an office and programming center, where they tested their new search engine designs on the web. The rapid growth of their project caused Stanford's computing infrastructure to experience problems.
Page and Brin used the former's basic HTML programming skills to set up a simple search page for users, as they did not have a web page developer to create anything visually elaborate. They also began using any computer part they could find to assemble the necessary computing power to handle searches by multiple users. As their search engine grew in popularity among Stanford users, it required additional servers to process the queries. In August 1996, the initial version of Google was made available on the Stanford Web site.
By early 1997, the BackRub page described the state as follows:
The mathematical website interlinking that the PageRank algorithm facilitates, illustrated by size-percentage correlation of the circles. The algorithm was named after Page himself.
Some Rough Statistics (from August 29, 1996)
Total indexable HTML urls: 75.2306 Million
Total content downloaded: 207.022 gigabytes
BackRub is written in Java and Python and runs on several Sun Ultras and Intel Pentiums running Linux. The primary database is kept on a Sun Ultra series II with 28GB of disk. Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg have provided a great deal of very talented implementation help. Sergey Brin has also been very involved and deserves many thanks.
BackRub already exhibited the rudimentary functions and characteristics of a search engine: a query input was entered and it provided a list of backlinks ranked by importance. Page recalled: "We realized that we had a querying tool. It gave you a good overall ranking of pages and ordering of follow-up pages." Page said that in mid-1998 they finally realized the further potential of their project: "Pretty soon, we had 10,000 searches a day. And we figured, maybe this is really real."
Some compared Page and Brin's vision to the impact of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of modern printing:
In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced Europe to the mechanical printing press, printing Bibles for mass consumption. The technology allowed for books and manuscripts—originally replicated by hand—to be printed at a much faster rate, thus spreading knowledge and helping to usher in the European Renaissance... Google has done a similar job.
The comparison was also noted by the authors of The Google Story: "Not since Gutenberg... has any new invention empowered individuals, and transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google." Also, not long after the two "cooked up their new engine for web searches, they began thinking about information that was at the time beyond the web," such as digitizing books and expanding health information.
Brin is working on other, more personal projects that reach beyond Google. For example, he and Page are trying to help solve the world's energy and climate problems at Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org, which invests in sources of renewable energy. The company acknowledges that its founders want "to solve really big problems using technology".
In October 2010, for example, they invested in a major offshore wind power development to assist the East coast power grid, which will eventually become one of about a dozen offshore wind farms that are proposed for the region. A week earlier they introduced a car that, with "artificial intelligence", can drive itself using video cameras and radar sensors. In the future, drivers of cars with similar sensors would have fewer accidents. These safer vehicles could, therefore, be built lighter and require less fuel consumption. They are trying to get companies to create innovative solutions to increasing the world's energy supply. Brin was also an early investor in Tesla.
In 2004, he and Page were named "Persons of the Week" by ABC World News Tonight. In January 2005, he was nominated to be one of the World Economic Forum's "Young Global Leaders". In June 2008, Brin invested $4.5 million in Space Adventures, the Virginia-based space tourism company. His investment will serve as a deposit for a reservation on one of Space Adventures' proposed flights in 2011. Space Adventures, a company that sends tourists to space, has sent seven of them so far.
In 2012, Brin has been involved with the Project Glass program and has demoed eyeglass prototypes. Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented realityhead-mounted display (HMD). The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users, and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands.
Brin was also involved in the Google driverless car project. In September 2012, at the signing of the California Driverless Vehicle Bill, Brin predicted that within five years, robotic cars will be available to the general public.
In May 2007, Brin married biotech analyst and entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki in the Bahamas. They had a son in late 2008 and a daughter in late 2011. Brin is Jewish and not religious. In August 2013, it was announced that Brin and his wife were living separately after Brin had an extramarital affair with Google Glass's marketing director Amanda Rosenberg. In June 2015, Brin and Wojcicki finalized their divorce.
In 2018, he married Nicole Shanahan, a legal tech founder. They have a daughter, born in late 2018.
In 2002, Brin, along with Larry Page, was named in the MITTechnology ReviewTR100, as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.
In 2003, both Brin and Page received an honorary MBA from IE Business School "for embodying the entrepreneurial spirit and lending momentum to the creation of new businesses...".
In 2003, Brin and Page were both Award Recipients and National Finalists for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award
In 2004, they received the Marconi Foundation Prize, the "Highest Award in Engineering", and were elected Fellows of the Marconi Foundation at Columbia University. "In announcing their selection, John Jay Iselin, the Foundation's president, congratulated the two men for their invention that has fundamentally changed the way information is retrieved today."
In November 2009, Forbes decided Brin and Page were the fifth most powerful people in the world.
Earlier that same year, in February, Brin was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, which is "among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer ... [and] honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice...". He was selected specifically, "for leadership in development of rapid indexing and retrieval of relevant information from the World Wide Web".
he was a featured speaker at the World Economic Forum and the Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference. ... PC Magazine has praised Google in the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines (1998) and awarded Google the Technical Excellence Award, for Innovation in Web Application Development in 1999. In 2000, Google earned a Webby Award, a People's Voice Award for technical achievement, and in 2001, was awarded Outstanding Search Service, Best Image Search Engine, Best Design, Most Webmaster Friendly Search Engine, and Best Search Feature at the Search Engine Watch Awards.
As of May 2021, Brin is the 9th-richest person in the world according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $95.6 billion.
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