Introduction of Banquet Speaker


By Lloyd Vermont, Trustee, Jamaica Medical Foundation, Hilton Kingston Hotel, March 24, 2001.

Your Excellency and Lady Cooke
Chairman Oliver,
Her Excellency Mrs. Florentina Adenike Ukonga --- Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica,
Members of the Diplomatic Community,
Dignitaries at the Head Table,
Other Dignitaries in the audience,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Sir Howard, I seek your permission, Sir, to engage in just a wee bit of wagering because, I see where I can win a smallish fortune by doing this introduction within a specified time. Simply put, Sir, my Chairman, Oliver, aware as he is of my admiration for our Guest Speaker, has challenged me to do this it within acceptable limits. If I do, he will pay me a $100. If I take longer and run the risk of becoming an unwanted “guest speaker”, I will owe him double the amount. I now invite somebody to lend Oliver the $100 and somebody else with a reliable watch to time me because I am about to win it from him.

Your Excellency,

Ladies and Gentlemen of this august audience, this 1999 Book ---- The History of the Internet --- says, at page 138, the following about our Guest Speaker, and I quote directly --- (READING FROM BOOK)

In 1989 mathematician Philip Emeagwali shocked the supercomputer industry by performing the world's fastest computation --- 3.1 billion calculations per second --- using the power of the Internet. The results, as computer scientist Marsha Lakes put it, were "phenomenal ... three times faster than a supercomputer."

Harnessing the power of parallel computing, Emeagwali was able to effectively simulate petroleum reserves --- and change oil exploration history. His 1989 breakthrough won him the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize, known as the "Nobel Prize of computing."

Interestingly enough, in the beginning, our Guest Speaker was given clearance for the use of a conventional super-computer by telephone but, when he turned up in person, (and presumably didn't look like the person who was envisaged by “ the gate-keeper”), was denied access on the basis that super-computers were for serious researchers. He was therefore, in a manner of speaking , forced to become a genius, and this he did with distinction, by pioneering a new discipline in computation-intensive calculations called massively parallel computing. In the process of this pioneering work, he harnessed the power of 65,000 computer processors in parallel and created a super-computer --- his now famous Connection Machine --- that created the world computing record of 3.1 billion calculations/second that was mentioned earlier. This speed has literally forced the international computer industry to "discover" him and, in turn, make him into the sought after International Consultant that he now is.

Interestingly, as a result of this work, he has forced Mr. Cray, of Cray Super Computers to "eat his words" because, two months before his breakthrough, Mr. Cray pronounced authoritatively in New York (1989) that there was no future in the kind of work that he (our Guest Speaker) was doing.

Tonight, you are here as witness to the fact that it is Mr. Cray who was wrong and must now follow in the tracks laid down by our Guest Speaker.

For doing what the experts said could not be done, the number crunching community has since been calling him by many names and given him many Awards/Recognition with perhaps the leading one, to date, being the Gordon Bell Award which he won in recognition of his oil well simulation technology. This technology is causing oil wells all over the world to more than double, and sometimes triple, the amount of crude oil that is recovered from each reservoir.

Can you see the relevance of this break through to both his country of birth, Nigeria , and his country of domicile, the USA, not to mention his country of residence for two weeks - poor us here in Jamaica

So, I give you a man whose genius is impacting our life every day in every way. Anything that requires big!, large!, massive! Number-crunching such as

  • Your airline reservation
  • Local/international banking transactions
  • Your weather forecasting
  • and the search engines behind your computers
have been impacted by his work!!

Finally (and I know you have been waiting to hear this particular word!!) I present to you a man, whom some have called "a father of the Internet"; who this book (the History of the Internet) has called "the Bill Gates of Africa"; who former President Bill Clinton called "One of the great minds of the information age", who I call a near future Nobel Laureate in massively parallel computing and a man who, after all of this, is still smart enough to marry one Ms Dale Brown, then a Ph. D candidate, who is now Dr Dale Emeagwali, a Prof. of microbiology at the Morgan State University!

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I now give to you our Guest Speaker, Dr Philip Emeagwali.


Philip Emeagwali, Oliver Jones, Sir Howard Cooke (the governor-general of Jamaica) at the gala fundraising banquet.

Dale Emeagwali receiving a "thank you gift" at the banquet.

Dale Emeagwali & Philip Emeagwali pose with some of the guests at the gala fundraising banquet.

Philip Emeagwali, Janet Johnson, Claire Vermont, Dale Emeagwali, Lloyd Vermont at the gala fundraising banquet.

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor