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


[Philip Emeagwali]

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By Richard O. Nwachukwu, Ph.D.

A Nigerian has joined the ranks of Steve Job of Apple Computer and Bill Gates of Microsoft in the world of communication and computing.

Dr. Philip Emeagwali, originally from Onitsha, Anambra state, Nigeria, although born in Akure, Ondo State in August 1954, has made history - he is one of those being honored during the 50th anniversary of the computer.

Among Dr. Emeagwali's scientific achievements are:

1) World's fastest computation of 3.1 billion calculations per second in 1989;

here for full-scale Connection Machine programmed by Emeagwali to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second.

2) World record for solving the largest partial differential equations with 8 million grid points in 1989;

3)World record for solving the largest weather forecasting equations with 128 million grid points in 1990;

4) World record for an unprecedented parallel computer speedup of 2048 in 1989;

5) World record for an unprecedented parallel computer speedup of 65536 in 1990;

6) First successful implementation of a petroleum reservoir model on a massively parallel computer in 1989;

7) Credited with alerting the petroleum industry that massively parallel computers can be used to recover more oil;

Emeagwali's Reservoir Equations]
Emeagwali in front of the petroleum reservoir simulation equations that won him the Gordon Bell Prize in 1989

8) First to program a massively parallel computer to outperform a conventional (vector) supercomputer in 1988;

9) First to have applied a pseudo-time approach in reservoir modeling in 1990;

10) Credited with pioneering the use of the "vast resources" of the Internet in supercomputing in the 1980s;

11) Credited with conclusively demonstrating that computers with thousands of processing nodes can solve significant real-world problems in 1989;

12) Formulated the counter-intuitive speedup paradox which states that there are two different but correct theoretical speedup of parallel computers;

13) Formulated the theory of tessellated models for parallel computing;

14) Introduced the concept of network frequency for parallel computers;

15) Introduced the concept of parallel data spaces;

16) Discovered enantiomeric networks;

17) Designed the first Fibonacci hypertree network;

16 Processor Hypertree Computer Network

18) Discovered the relationship between sphere packing and fast computing;

19) Invented hyperball computer networks;

on photograph for full-scale Hyperball nature-inspired computer network invented by Emeagwali.

20) Derived new partial differential equations for low inertial fluid flows;

21) Derived error stopping criterion for high inertial-fluid flows;

22) Discovered the analogy between Darcy's equations used in petroleum reservoir simulations and geostrophic equations used in weather forecasting;

23) Derived a new set of porous media flow equations that is vectorizable, parallelizable, and surprisingly, fifty times less computation-intensive than the original formulation;

24) Proved that the use of only Dirichlet type boundary conditions yields more accurate numerical solutions in the vicinity of petroleum producing wells located near the boundary and is therefore suitable for avoiding the coning problem caused by the high velocity of converging flows in the vicinity of wells;

25) Demonstrated the analogy between high-speed computation and high-speed ballistic missile by proving that the mixing of high- and low-resolution timing can lead to fatal error in measuring the performance of fast computers and tracking the motion of fast missiles. This fatal subtraction error resulted in the death, on 25 February 1991, of 28 U.S. servicemen in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War when the U.S. Patriot missile failed to shoot down the Iraqi Scud missile.

Dr. Emeagwali's academic achievements are alarming. He received his Ph.D. in scientific computing from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with concentration and research on massively parallel computing with interdisciplinary applications. Although the final approval of his 1057-page dissertation is pending, it has already won several awards from leading technical societies.

Among his other degrees are: Master of Arts in Applied Mathematics from the University of Maryland, College Park; Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, George Washington University, Washington D.C.; Engineer Degree in Ocean and Marine Engineering, George Washington University, Washington D.C.; Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics, Oregon State University, Corvallis, with minor in physics and astronomy.

Believe it or not, Philip is still studying. He has completed all but six courses needed to earn a second bachelor's degree in civil engineering; completed sufficient courses for an additional master's degree and the equivalent of two doctoral dissertations.

In honoring Dr. Emeagwali in a full page article on the 50th anniversary of computer, EDS wrote:

"The women and men of EDS salute those whose insights, vision and persistence have contributed to developing this remarkable tool.

"A leader among them is Dr. Philip Emeagwali. Emeagwali is an interdisciplinary computer scientist and inventor who developed software that allowed multiple processors to tackle complex problems simultaneously, paving the way to solving problems once thought unsolvable.

"Inspired by the complex designs of nature, Emeagwali used geometry to prove that bees use the most efficient method possible to construct their honeycombs. He reasoned that a computer based on the honeycomb design could improve efficiency. It did. His design breakthrough allowed 65,000 processors working together to perform the world's fastest computation at 3.1 billion calculations per second. That was three times the speed of the fastest supercomputers of the day - at one-fifth the cost. He is working on developing supercomputers powerful enough to simulate weather trends over a century to investigate atmospheric warming," EDS said.

Dr. Emeagwali was honored by the National Society of Black Engineers during their convention in Nashville, Tennessee from March 27-31, 1996. In a letter dated March 17, 1996 and signed by Jataun Robinson, it said, "I am writing you this letter to congratulate you on winning the National Society of Black Engineers Alumni Extension (NSBE-AE) Pioneer of the Year Award.... During the convention, a special awards luncheon will be held to honor you.... The awards luncheon is on Saturday, March 30, 1996...."

Dr. Emeagwali has been featured in various "Who's Who" books, among which are
Who's Who in the World, 12th edition;
Africa Who's Who, 3rd edition;
Who's Who in America, 49th edition;
Who's Who in Midwest, 25th edition;
Who's Who among African Americans, 9th edition;
Who's Who in Technology, 8th edition;
Who's Who in Science and Engineering, 2nd edition;
Who's Who in Engineering, 9th edition;
Who's Who in American Education, 5th edition;
Who's Who in Finance and Industry, 29th edition;
Energy and Nuclear Sciences International Who's Who;
5,000 Personalities of the World, 5th edition;
Men of Achievements, 16th edition, etc.

Dr. Emeagwali is married with a 5-year-old son, Ijeoma. His wife, Dr. Dale Brown Emeagwali is a molecular biologist. A native of Baltimore, she teaches at Morgan State University.

Dr. Emeagwali, who came to the United States on March 23, 1974, is a member of various professional organizations, such as American Physical Society, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society, Association for Computing Machinery, American Meteorological Society, National Society of Black Engineers, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, United States Parachute Association, National Aeronautic Association and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Emeagwali is an independent consultant with the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has submitted 41 inventions covering seven technologies to the Patent and Trademark Office. He is now preparing funding proposals to build prototypes of these inventions and create a new company that will market and license the resulting products.

Dr. Emeagwali, 41, is still researching. His other research interests are: Parallel Computing, Routing Networks, Fast Computations, Fluid Dynamics, Pollution Transport, Computational Aerodynamics, Flood Forecasting, Atmospheric and Ocean Models, Petroleum Reservoir Simulation, and Nature-lnspired Networks.

Even Nigerian Embassy could not overlook Dr. Emeagwali's contribution to the American society. In a letter dated Sept. 6, 1990, the then Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Hon. Hamzat Ahmadu wrote:

"I was very pleased and proud to read of your distinguished achievement in the field of Civil Engineering and Scientific Computing and wish to offer you my sincere congratulations for your remarkable achievement. I am equally pleased to learn that you won the Gordon Bell Prize, for the program you developed which will enable engineers determine where best to place wells in order to capture as much trapped oil as possible. Needless to say that such a program would be of tremendous interest to oil producing countries, including ours.

[Nigerian Petroleum Facility]
Nigerian Petroleum Facility

"By this great accomplishment," the Ambassador continued, "You have shown the world that contrary to many negative press that tend to portray the generality of Nigerians in bad light, particularly in the United States of America, Nigerians are capable of achieving greatness and do indeed excel in many fields. I hope that other Nigerians both within and outside your community will emulate you and set similar high standard of excellence..."

Dr. Emeagwali is interested in motivating African youths. In his letter to the African Herald dated April 11, 1996, he said: "It is my hope that your article(s) will help motivate African youths to pursue high-tech careers and increase the public awareness of the $2.6 billion Africa ONE Project that will bring the Internet to all African countries in 1999."

Reported by Richard O. Nwachukwu, Ph.D.
Publisher, African Herald
May 1996, P.O. Box 2394, Dallas, Texas 75221.

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

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