Who is Philip Emeagwali? | Famous Computer Scientists | African Inventors and their Inventions


TIME magazine called him
“the unsung hero behind the Internet.” CNN called him “A Father of the Internet.”
President Bill Clinton called him “one of the great minds of the Information
Age.” He has been voted history’s greatest scientist
of African descent. He is Philip Emeagwali.
He is coming to Trinidad and Tobago to launch the 2008 Kwame Ture lecture series
on Sunday June 8 at the JFK [John F. Kennedy] auditorium
UWI [The University of the West Indies] Saint Augustine 5 p.m.
The Emancipation Support Committee invites you to come and hear this inspirational
mind address the theme:
“Crossing New Frontiers to Conquer Today’s Challenges.”
This lecture is one you cannot afford to miss. Admission is free.
So be there on Sunday June 8 5 p.m.
at the JFK auditorium UWI St. Augustine. [Wild applause and cheering for 22 seconds] [Who is Philip Emeagwali?] Back in 1989, I was asked:
“Who is Philip Emeagwali?” “I’m not exactly sure,”
I answered. Then someone wrote that:
[quote] “Philip Emeagwali
is a polymath that was trained for sixteen years
and, therefore, he can solve interdisciplinary scientific problems
that a mathematician that was trained for only eight years
in mathematics alone could not solve.”
[unquote] It’s not arrogance for me to say that
my scientific lectures posted online at emeagwali dot com
demonstrated my command of materials. You don’t see a surgeon
going into the surgery room with a book titled
“How to do surgery.” Yet, every speaker
in every scientific conference cling on to his power points
as if it was a matter of life and death. The reason they must use power points
is that they lack the command of their materials.
In contrast, I have never used power points in my scientific lectures.
And at the end of each lecture, the audience stand as one
to give me a standing ovation and did so because I have
the command of my materials that, in turn, could only come
from a deep bench of ideas and knowledge. To be the lone wolf, in the 1980s,
and at the farthest frontier of supercomputing
demanded a command of materials and, in particular, a command of
65,536 processors that were needed to discover
the fastest supercomputer. I commanded materials
across the branch of physics called fluid dynamics.
I commanded materials across the branch of calculus
called partial differential equations. I commanded materials
across the branch of algebra called numerical linear algebra.
I commanded materials across the branch of computing
called massively parallel processing. You can verify my command of materials by
doing a one-by-one, side-by-side, and videotape-by-videotape comparisons
of Philip Emeagwali with the videotapes of the likes of
Albert Einstein, including Albert Einstein himself.
My supreme confidence that seems like arrogance
arose because the likes of Albert Einstein
don’t have the aura of invincibility that they had
when I was trained for only eight years like they were.
I’m confident because I’m eight years ahead
of the likes of theoretical physicists, such as Albert Einstein.
I’m confident because I’m eight years ahead
of computational physicists. I was confident
because I was the only person in the decade of the 1980s
that was at the farthest frontier of supercomputing.
Only one lone wolf could be at that farthest frontier
and I was that programmer, period. My confidence against the likes of
Albert Einstein was the confidence
a sixteen-year-old boy has when challenged to wrestle against
an eight-year-old girl. Who is Philip Emeagwali?
I’m four in ten parts a mathematician.
I’m three in ten parts a physicist.
I’m three in ten parts a supercomputer scientist.
Who is Philip Emeagwali? I’m a scientist
that is the subject of school reports. I was an astronomer
who declined an astronomer position in Washington, D.C.
I was an astronaut candidate hopeful who was declined by NASA.
I was an engineer that worked on nine US government dams
and their reservoirs and powerplants that were along the North Platte River
in the State of Wyoming, United States. I was a geologist
that pushed the frontiers of extreme-scale computations
in sub-surface flow modeling. Yet, I don’t have a deep yearning
for engineering or geology or astronomy. I have given up on my 1970s and ‘80s ambition
to fly into outer space. The reason I discovered how to solve
that grand challenge problem of supercomputing
and solved it alone was that I was trained
in the United States for the sixteen years
onward of March 24, 1974. I experimentally programmed supercomputers,
and did so continuously and onward
of June 20, 1974. With that training,
I could solve grand challenge problems in supercomputing
that were impossible for a scientist trained
for only eight years and who never touched
the most massively parallel supercomputer, ever built.
I—Philip Emeagwali— was the lone wolf
and the only fulltime programmer of the most massively parallel supercomputer
that was ever built, as of 1989. Where was Philip Emeagwali?
After sixteen years of training, I became a research physicist
at the frontier of knowledge of fluid dynamics,
and I became a research mathematician at the frontier of knowledge
of the partial differential equation of a new calculus
and I became a research algebraist at the frontier of knowledge
of the extreme-scale system of equations
of a new algebra and I became a research computer scientist
at the frontier of knowledge of massively parallel processing
and I became the lone wolf researcher at the terra incognita
of the fastest computations. What did Philip Emeagwali discover?
After sixteen years of training and as many years of supercomputing,
I discovered how to massively parallel process
and how to compute across a new internet
that’s de facto a new supercomputer that’s a global network of
64 binary thousand commodity processors.
For sixteen years and in the United States,
I conducted research as a lone wolf black supercomputer scientist.
Research in supercomputing is conducted at the frontiers of physics
and mathematics and computing and, for that reason,
it is intensively collaborative. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s,
no white supercomputer scientist had collaborated
with a black supercomputer scientist. And white supercomputer scientists
that agreed to collaborate with me withdrew their offer
after they discovered that I was black.
For that reason, I conducted research alone and at the farthest frontier
of supercomputing. From those rejections, I learned that
when one door closes, another door opens.
Because I was a lone wolf supercomputer scientist,
during the sixteen years onward of June 20, 1974,
I was described as the father of the parallel processing supercomputer
that is a global network of commodity processors
and that is a new internet. There’s a point of pride
in saying I never collaborated with any scientist or scientific team.
For that reason, I don’t have a co-discoverer or a co-inventor.
That co-discoverer would have diluted my contribution
that is the subject of school reports on the development of the
massively parallel supercomputer that was a new internet
and that was a global network of 64 binary thousand
commodity processors. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture

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