Nigerian Computer Whiz Lends Fame to Children


By Marjorie Powis, The Sunday Observer, Kingston, Jamaica, January 14, 2001.

THE Jamaican Medical Foundation has invited renowned Nigerian mathematician and computer scientist, Phillip Emeagwali, to address their annual fund-raising Banquet at Hilton Kingston Hotel on March 24.

Emeagwali is an acknowledged pioneer in massive parallel computing, a new paradigm in computer architecture.

Foundation trustee, Lloyd Vermont, speaking at the press launch to announce the fund-raising event, said the Nigerian was invited because it is important to have Jamaicans, especially the children, exposed to someone with this kind of expertise in information technology.

Vermont said Emeagwali, who has a website which gets a half million visits each year, will be in Jamaica a few days before the main event.

In 1989 he created what is called the The Connection Machine, a parallel connection of 65,000 processors which became the fastest computer on earth, performing 3.1 billion calculations per second.

Emeagwali has been accredited for his breakthrough technology upon which search engines for websites are run and one which IBM has miniaturised into its personal computers.

Chairman of the Foundation, Oliver Jones said, "we hope that by bringing Emeagwali to Jamaica will take us a step closer to bridging the gap between information technology and the health care sector in terms of wealth of knowledge and advice that he will no doubt share with us".

Emeagwali was born in Igbo Yorubaland, Nigeria and dropped out of school at age 14. The book published by ABC-CLIO in California, said Emeagwali taught himself college-level mathmatics, physics, chemistry and English at the local public library. At age 17 he won a scholarship to attend Oregon State University in the United States.

He has since earned four advanced degrees: a doctorate in scientific computing and three separate masters degrees in marine engineering, civil engineering and applied mathematics.

During the late 1980s, the United States government listed petroleum reservoir simulation among the 20 grand challenges to scientist in America. Back then, super-computer simulations were locating oil reserves with only 10 percent accuracy. 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 for computing.


EMEAGWALI ... winner of the Gordon Bell Prize

Despite his 14-hour workdays, Emeagwali still spends time tending his website at

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

Click on for more information.
Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor