Philip Emeagwali life and biography

Philip Emeagwali picture, image, poster

Philip Emeagwali biography

Date of birth : 1954-08-23
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Akure, Nigeria
Nationality : Nigerian
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2010-10-06
Credited as : Engineer, computer scientist, man with an IQ of 190

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Philip Emeagwali (born in 1954) is an Igbo Nigerian-born engineer and computer scientist/geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.


Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 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 went to the United States to study under a scholarship after taking a correspondence course at the University of London.[citation needed] He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He was also working as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period.


Emeagwali received a $1,000 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, based on an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer for oil-reservoir modeling. He won in the "price/performance" category, with a performance figure of 400 Mflops/$1M, corresponding to an absolute performance of 3.1 Gflops. The other recipient of the award, who won in the "peak performance" category for a similar application of the CM-2 to oil-related seismic data processing, actually had a price-performance figure of 500 Mflops/$1M and an absolute performance of 6.0 Gflops, but the judges decided not to award both prizes to the same team. Emeagwali's simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.

Apart from the prize itself, there is no evidence that Emeagwali's work was ever accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, nor that it had any other lasting impact on the field of high-performance computing or the development of the Internet. Neither does he hold any recognized patents for his results. (He does, however, own a US trademark for his website name, "EMEAGWALI.COM".) Nevertheless, Emeagwali was voted the "35th-greatest African (and greatest African scientist) of all time" in a survey by New African magazine. His achievements were quoted in a speech by Bill Clinton as an example of what Nigerians could achieve when given the opportunity. He is also a frequent feature of Black History Month articles in the popular press.

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