Philip Emeagwali – Nigeria and USA

Linked with Africa Must Produce or Perish.

Philip Emeagwali (born in 1954) is an Igbo Nigerian-born computer scientist /geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of the Connection Machine supercomputer – a machine featuring over 65,000 parallel processors – to help analyze petroleum fields … Biography: Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria in 1954. He dropped out of school in 1967 because of the Nigerian-Biafran war. When he turned fourteen, he was conscripted into the Biafran army. After the war he completed a high-school equivalency through self-study and came to the United States to study at university under a scholarship. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He received a master’s degree in environmental engineering from George Washington University in 1981, and another master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1986. He also received a post-master’s degree in ocean, coastal and marine engineering from George Washington University in that year. He was also working as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period … (full text on wikipedia).

… Nigerian born Dr. Philip Emeagwali first entered the limelight in 1989 when he won the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize for his work with massively parallel computers. He programmed the Connection Machine to compute a world record 3.1 billion calculations per second using 65,536 processors to simulate oil reservoirs. With over 41 inventions submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Philip Emeagwali is making big waves in the supercomputer industry, amazing achievements only surpassed by an even more amazing life … ( /Inventors).

… In 1974, based on a 1922 science fiction novel he read, Emeagwali worked on a theory about using 64,000 processors distributed around the world to forecast the weather, calling it a HyperBall network.  His idea was rejected, but in the late 1980s, he was able to test his theory when the Los Alamos National Laboratory had access to 65,536 processors, and Emeagwali had permission to remotely program them.  These computers were able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second, and in 1989 he was making magazine cover stories about the capabilities of supercomputers. His HyperBall idea was given credibility”. In 1989, Emeagwali received the Gordon Bell Prize for his work on the Connection Machine, one of his many prizes.  Emeagwali is a popular speaker and contact for various subjects, including the arts. (full text).


Philip  Emeagwali – Nigeria and USA

His personal Homepage.

Watch two of the 289 Google video-results:

He says (excerpt of an Interview): … Question – You speak about the influence nature’s own creativity has had upon your science theories, how did this begin?
Philip Emeagwali – I have expertise in five different fields which helps me to easily understand the analogy between my scientific problems and those occurring in nature. First, I identify an analogous problem in nature and borrow from it. It is smarter to borrow from nature than to reinvent the wheels … (full interviw text).

He writes: … As the gap between rich and poor countries continues to widen, it is becoming clear that intellectual capital and technology are the new fronts for acquisition of wealth and power. Natural resources such as oil, gold, and diamonds are no longer the primary determinants of wealth. This is demonstrated by the fact that nations with few or no natural resources are realising higher growth rates than OPEC countries … (full text).

More articles:

Find him and his publications on (for articles, videos, photos); on Google Video-search (announcing 289 results); on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

… In 1989, he shocked the computing industry by winning singlehandedly, as an unknown, the Gordon Bell Prize, considered the “Nobel Prize of supercomputing.” He reformulated Newton’s Second Law of Motion as 18 “grand challenge” equations and algorithms and then re-created those as 24 million algebraic equations. By programming 65,000 processors to work as one seamless unit, he solved those 24 million equations at a speed of 3.1 billion calculations per second, setting three world records and garnering international headlines … (full text).

He writes also: … I felt the hard, cold steel of a gun against the back of my head. I spun around and saw my assailant’s finger shaking on the trigger: “Don’t run or I’ll shoot you,” he said. I was just 14 years old, and death was a stranger to me.  It was 1969, and Nigeria was embroiled in civil war. As a teenage refugee conscripted into the Biafran Army, I was forced at gunpoint to carry weapons to the Oguta front. It was a 24-hour-march through mosquito-infested mangroves flooded by the River Niger. When the 30-month war ended on January 15, 1970, I was discharged and reunited with my parents. Together with one million returning refugees we walked for three days, avoiding landmines along fetid rainforest footpaths. Eventually, we reached our hometown of Onitsha. It was badly battered by the war. There my thoughts returned to a love abandoned three years earlier—mathematical physics … (full long text, Jan 23, 2009).

…. A purpose of the Gordon Bell awards (there are usually three per year) is to track the progress over time of parallel computing in applications. The Gordon Bell prizes are awarded by ACM/IEEE in three categories:

  • 1. Peak Performance: The prize in the peak performance category is given to the entry demonstrating the highest performance achieved in terms of operations per second on a genuine application program. Recent winners have been at or near one teraflop/s.
  • 2. Price/Performance: The prize in the price/performance category is given to the entry demonstrating the best price-performance ratio as measured in megaflop/s per dollar on a genuine application.
  • 3. Special: The prize in the special category may be given to an entry whose performance is short of that of the Peak Performance prize, which nevertheless utilizes innovative techniques to produce new levels of performance on a real application. Such techniques may be, for instance, in mathematical algorithms, data structures, or implementations.

Emeagwali won in the second category, Price/Performance for oil reservoir modeling. Link to table of Gordon Bell Prize awards winners,1987 – present … (full text).

And he writes: … Africa is committing suicide: a two-decade war in Sudan, genocidal killings in Rwanda, scorched-earth conflicts in Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, and Liberia. The wars in modern Africa are the largest global-scale loss of life since the establishment of the Trans Atlantic Slave trade, which uprooted and scattered Africa’s sons and daughters across the US, Jamaica, and Brazil. Africa’s wars are steering the continent toward a sea of self-destruction so deep that even the greatest horror writers are unable to fathom its depths. So, given our circumstances, Martin Luther King was a name unknown, a dead man among millions, with a message that never reached the shores of Biafra. Neither did his message reach the ears of “The Black Scorpion,” Benjamin Adekunle, a tough Nigerian army commander, whose credo of ethnic cleansing knew nothing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement: “We shoot at everything that moves, and when our forces move into Igbo territory, we even shoot things that do not move.” As we heed Martin Luther King Jr.’s call, and march together across the world stage, let us never forget that we who have witnessed and survived the injustice of such nonsensical wars are the torchbearers of his legacy of peace for our world, our nation and our children … (full texttranscribed from a speech delivered by the writer on April 4, 2008 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia).


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