Philip Emeagwali Internet | Father of the Internet | Famous Computer Scientists and their Inventions

Philip Emeagwali Internet | Father of the Internet | Famous Computer Scientists 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] [Philip Emeagwali Internet] [Philip Emeagwali Supercomputer] I’m Philip Emeagwali.
Parallel supercomputing is an entirely new approach
to modern computer science. Yet, there is a limit
to the theoretically unlimited speed of the parallel supercomputer.
Looking back, in 1946 the fastest computer in the world
used only one scalar processing unit. In 1988, the fastest computer
in the world still computed with only one
vector processing unit. Shortly after the U.S. Independence Day of
1989, the media reported that an African supercomputer wizard
in the United States of America had discovered
how the most massively parallel supercomputer ever built
can massively compute with 65,536 commodity processors
and solve 65,536 computational physics problems
and solve them simultaneously. Nine in ten supercomputer cycles
are executed while solving extreme-scaled systems
of equations of algebra and physics. I had figured out
how to finesse my 64 binary thousand processors, enabling them to communicate and collaborate
to reduce the time-to-solution of extreme-scale systems of equations
of algebra—and to reduce that time-to-solution
from 65,536 days, or 180 years, on one isolated processor
to just one day across an ensemble of 65,536 processors. That new knowledge enabled
those processors to compute quickly and accurately
and to make the impossible-to-solve systems of equations of
extreme-scale algebra possible-to-solve.
I introduced how to use that new knowledge in algebra
and thus build digital replicas of petroleum reservoirs
and the Earth’s climate. [Philip Emeagwali Internet] I want to be remembered
as the first person to witness the transition
from the computer that did one thing at a time to the supercomputer
that did many things at once. I believe that our children’s children
will coin a new word for their supercomputers.
They will invent supercomputers that are science fiction to us. I discovered a new way of thinking
about the new fastest supercomputer and about the supercomputer
of tomorrow not as a computer per se
but as a global network of tightly-coupled processors
that is an internet. My discovery was processor-agnostic
and was a blueprint for a never-before-seen internet.
The invention of a faster supercomputer is a milestone of human progress.
That invention made some impossible-to-solve problems
arising in physics, algebra, and calculus possible-to-solve. [American Newspaper Mention of Philip Emeagwali
in 1974] I’m Philip Emeagwali. I remember the day
I first programmed a supercomputer. It was June 20, 1974.
I remember that date, in part, because I was on the cover of a local newspaper
that was published three weeks later and because then U.S. President
Richard Nixon was forced to resign 18 days later.
Back in mid-July 1974, the half dozen Nigerians in Polk County
of Oregon were proud to see my photo
on the cover of their local newspaper. That newspaper was on the newsstands
of the Oregonian cities of Monmouth and Independence.
The Nigerians that read that article came to congratulate me.
Nigerians crowded into my tiny one-room studio apartment
that was at 195A South Knox, Monmouth, Oregon.
That evening, we talked about the recent resignation
of then U.S. President Richard Nixon. That evening we went to see
a performance in Monmouth (Oregon) that was delivered
by the mentalist called “The Amazing Kreskin.”
I remember the day my discovery of practical parallel supercomputing
was highlighted by The Wall Street Journal—and remember it
as June 20, 1990— not because I was in The Wall Street Journal per se
but because I started programming conventional supercomputers exactly sixteen years earlier—on
June 20, 1974—and at 1800 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, Oregon, United States.
I remember by association, not memorization, and for that reason,
friends say that I have a photographic memory,
an elephant memory called an “eidetic memory.” [A Father of the Internet] [Contributions as a Father of the Internet] I was asked: “How did Philip Emeagwali
become a father of the Internet?” When I began supercomputing,
back on June 20, 1974, in Corvallis, Oregon, United States,
I did not embark on a quest to become a father of the Internet.
But if the father of the airplane is the person that invented
the first airplane then the father of the Internet
should be the person that invented the first internet. I am the only father of the Internet
that invented a new internet. And I am known as the first person
to program a new internet that I visualized
as a new global network of 64 binary thousand processors
that I also visualized as being equal distances apart
from each other. Those 65,536 processors
had separate memories from each other
with each processor operating its own operating system.
It made the news headlines in 1989 that I discovered that new internet
to be a virtual supercomputer. My physical experiments across
my ensemble of tightly-coupled commodity-off-the-shelf processors
gave me the street cred that is akin to that of the prophet
that became a political prisoner or that of the poet
whose wife committed suicide. [What is Philip Emeagwali Famous For?] I’m Philip Emeagwali.
Students writing school reports on Great Inventors often ask? “What is Philip Emeagwali known for?” In abstract geometrical terms,
I’m known for defining and delineating the technology called parallel processing
and for precisely describing it as the vital technology
that enables supercomputing across the surface of a globe.
That globe is embedded within a sixteen-dimensional hyperspace.
And I’m known for discovering that supercomputer
as a never-before-seen internet that is a new global network of
two-raised-to-power sixteen, or 65,536, tightly-coupled processors
that were identical to each other that shared nothing between each other
and with each processor operating its own operating system.
Back in 1989, I was in the news for discovering
practical parallel processing, the technology
that enables the modern supercomputer to solve many real-world problems
at once, instead of solving only one problem
at a time. Massively parallel processing
enabled me to solve one grand challenge problem
of mathematical physics that is an ensemble of
65,536 challenging problems of computational physics
and solve them synchronously. Loosely speaking and in theory,
the computer that is powered by only one processor
can solve a grand challenge problem that the parallel supercomputer
that is powered by one billion processors
can solve. However, the computer takes
one billion days, or nearly three million years,
to solve a grand challenge problem that the parallel supercomputer
takes only one day to solve. However, it took me sixteen years—onward
of March 25, 1974—to understand the physics, calculus, algebra,
and arithmetic, or to understand the human process
of solving that grand challenge problem. I had to understand that process
before I can instruct my ensemble of
64 binary thousand processors on how to massively parallel process
the grand challenge problem that I divided into
as 65,536 smaller problems. I was in the news because
I discovered practical parallel supercomputing
or how to solve many problems at once (or in parallel) and how to simultaneously
solve 65,536 problems across 65,536 tightly-coupled processors and solve them at the same time. [Philip Emeagwali Internet] What is the Philip Emeagwali Internet? Even after I had won the top prize
in supercomputing, and won it after sixteen years
of supercomputing, it took another sixteen years
for many supercomputer scientists to understand
that I had parallel processed across a new internet
and that I invented a new internet that was a new global network of
64 binary thousand processors. That sixteen year delay,
or adjustment period, was due to the fact that
parallel processing across a new internet was very difficult to understand. Parallel processing empowered me
to invent a virtual supercomputer, that is a new internet,
that retains the illusion of being a computer per se. On the blackboard, my new internet exists
almost to the point of complete abstraction.
My new internet is the invisible and the marginal technology
that haunts the transitory zones where the boundaries between mathematical
physics and computational physics
and between computing and supercomputing are blurred.
My definition of an internet is a metaphor that destabilizes
the textbook meaning of the word “computer,” that, in turn, was first used in print two
thousand years ago and first used by the Roman author
Pliny the Elder. I was asked: “Why is Philip Emeagwali
called a father of the Internet?” I am called
a father of the Internet because I am the only father of the Internet
that invented a new internet. [Why Are Great Inventors Rare?] Inventing a parallel supercomputer
that costs more than the annual budget of each of the forty poorest nations
in the world is tougher than writing a book of poetry,
and tougher, in part, because to invent is to make the impossible possible.
That’s why 50,000 fiction books are published each year
in the United States alone. That’s why 300,000 books
are published each year in the United States alone,
with the average book selling less than 250 copies.
In contrast, it took half a century to invent a new supercomputer
and to progress from the theorized supercomputer
of 1939 that, in theory, could solve a system of 29 equations of algebra.
It took 50 years to progress to the parallel supercomputer
of 1989 that made the news headlines when I used it to solve
24 million equations of large-scale algebra that was then a world record.
For this reason, inventing a new supercomputer
is rarer than writing a bestselling book. The number of self-published books
is over one million a year. You cannot read the same book
ten times. However, ten thousand programmers
can program the same supercomputer and do so at once.
If you’re a writer, you can write one thousand words
every day. If you’re a mountain climber,
you cannot become the first person to climb Mount Everest,
the highest mountain, and climb it every day.
You cannot break that historical record every day.
If you’re an inventor, you cannot invent a new internet
every day. The reason it is easier to write
than to invent is that the writer creates her literature,
hence the term “creative writer.” But it is impossible to have a
[quote unquote] “creative discoverer.”
You can write one page a day and complete a novel in one year.
But you cannot write one page a day and invent a new supercomputer
or invent a new internet and do so every year. Writing is infinite
but inventing is finite. Great scientific discoverers are rare
simply because ground breaking discoveries that are prerequisites
to becoming a great discoverer are also rare. Great scientific discoverers
are rare because they can only discover a thing that pre-exists
and the discoverer’s genius has nothing to do with the pre-existence
of her discovery. Great inventors are rare because
the inventor can only invent what’s possible to be invented. Great inventors are rare
because they cannot invent a law of physics
or invent a perpetual motion machine. [Changing the Way We Look at the Computer] Two thousand years,
the Roman author Pliny the Elder became the first person
to use the word “computer.” For two millennia, the name “computer”
remained the same. However, the basic premise
that defined the fastest computer has changed.
It changed from the supercomputer that computed
only one thing at a time, or in sequence, to the supercomputer that solved
millions of problems across millions of processors
and at once, or in parallel, and in a one-problem to one-processor
corresponded manner. The supercomputer
continuously re-defined itself, just as each generation
of supercomputer scientists re-defined itself. For simplicity and uniformity
and to avoid being a prisoner of details, I use the word “computer”
to describe computing machineries that my generation also call
CPUs or processors, nodes or cores,
parallel computers or quantum computers,
micro computers or supercomputers, and so on. What does a supercomputer look like? A supercomputer
needs email wires that totaled 200 miles of cables.
A supercomputer can consume five thousand gallons of water
per minute and do so to stay cool.
A supercomputer can consume as much electricity
as ten thousand homes. A supercomputer can weigh
as much as a commercial airplane. Parallel processing
is the vital technology that powers the world’s most powerful supercomputers.
The use of parallel processing to solve the toughest problems
is limited to the imagination of supercomputer scientists
of tomorrow. What is parallel processing? Imagine that 200 million Nigerians
were invited to queue in only one line and to vote
at the rate of one voter per minute. This process will take
200 million minutes, or 380 years. Allowing only one person
to vote at a time and only at one polling station
is akin to solving only one problem at a time
and only at one processor. This sequential processing technology
was the basic knowledge behind the old one-processor technology
that powered the old supercomputers, including the conventional
supercomputers of the 1940s through the vector supercomputers
of the 1980s. On the Fourth of July 1989,
I discovered practical parallel processing and I discovered it
as the vital technology that now underpins
every supercomputer, and hopefully, will underpin every computer.
The incorporation of parallel processing technology
into every supercomputer is the reason the supercomputer
that was formerly the size of the refrigerator
now occupies the space of a soccer field. [Inventing Future Internets] I believe that a word that has been used
for two thousand years, is likely to be used
for another two thousand years. The word “computer”
was in human vocabulary for two thousand years.
The word “computer” could remain in our descendants vocabulary
for another two thousand years. But the computer of two thousand years from
today is expected to be vastly different
from the computer of today. I believe that
by the end of the 21st century that our children’s children
will develop a new internet technology that will encapsulate the internet
that I invented as processors that encircled a globe
and did so in the manner the Internet encircles planet Earth.
That new internet will be a new supercomputer
that will be a subset of the entire planetary-sized Internet.
The computer has always been and could always be
a machinery that is used to perform the fastest computations
and that solves the most computation-intensive problems,
and solves them automatically and, sometimes, in parallel.
By definition and by necessity, the supercomputer of the future
will be the planetary-sized computer that performs the fastest computations.
I believe that in a century, the internet,
will become the network of humans that will be directly wired into the
Internet and that automatically sends
and receives the fastest telepathic email communications,
as opposed to a network of only processors and computers
that it is today. [Philip Emeagwali Supercomputer] [Paradigm Shifting to Parallel Supercomputing] Parallel processing is the crown jewel
inside every supercomputer. Parallel processing
was the stone that was mocked as rough and unsightly
and rejected. Parallel processing originated
as a vague science fiction story that was dated February 1, 1922.
From 1958 to 1989, the usefulness of the parallel supercomputing
was debated in computer science literature.
Parallel processing was the stone the builders of supercomputers
rejected as rough and unsightly only for it to become the crown jewel
inside every supercomputer. My discovery of
practical parallel supercomputing that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989
made the news headlines because that new knowledge
was considered to be a paradigm shift, or a change in the way
we look at what makes the supercomputer super.
In the old way called sequential processing,
or vector processing, the supercomputer
had only one electronic brain. In my new way
called parallel processing, the supercomputer
is powered by 65,536 brains and can be powered by a billion brains.
That was how I invented the Philip Emeagwali Formula
for the world’s fastest supercomputer that then U.S. President Bill Clinton
described in his White House speech of August 26, 2000. [Contributions of Philip Emeagwali to Supercomputing] My signature invention
was the fastest supercomputer that was not a computer per se
but that was a new internet de facto that was a new global network of
65,536 processors that were tightly-coupled
to each other that were equal distances apart
from each other that shared nothing between each other.
Each processor operated it’s own operating system.
The discovery of the new knowledge that is used to make
the fastest computer super that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989
was my Eureka Moment! My contribution
to the development of the computer is this: I answered a grand challenge question
that was posed sixty-seven years earlier, back on February 1, 1922. [Evolution of Philip Emeagwali in Supercomputing] My invention timeline was this:
Back in 1970 in Nigeria I computed with a slide rule,
or a manually operated computer. Then on June 20, 1974,
at 1800 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, Oregon, United States,
I began programming an automatic, programmable supercomputer
that was rated at one million instructions per second
and ranked as the world’s fastest supercomputer when it was manufactured
back in December 1965. That supercomputer was only automatic within
only one processor. The Philip Emeagwali Formula
that then U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke about on August 26, 2000
was my discovery that we can solve a grand challenge
initial-boundary value problem that is the toughest
and the most important problem in science and engineering
and solve them automatically both within and across
each processor of my new internet that is a new global network of
65,536 processors that were tightly-coupled to each other.
My contribution to the development of the supercomputer is
this: I discovered
how to make the supercomputers of the 1940s through ‘80s
to become obsolete. Within the new supercomputer
that I discovered on the Fourth of July 1989, 65,536 processors
replaced the singular processor that computed alone. I invented
practical parallel supercomputing and I did so in two stages.
First, I programmed all my two-raised-to-power sixteen,
or 65,536, processors to automatically send and receive
my emailed codes and data and do so across
sixteen times as many email wires and to communicate
with each of my 64 binary thousand processors. Second, I programmed each processor
to automatically compute and do so simultaneously
and across all 65,536 processors that uniformly encircled a globe
as a new internet and encircled the globe
in the manner computers encircle the Earth. [Philip Emeagwali Internet] An “internet”
is a global network of processors that encircles a globe.
That internet might occupy the space of
a soccer field or might encircle the Earth itself.
That internet might be a supercomputer de facto
or might be the Internet itself per se. The technology defines the name,
not the name defines the technology. For my discovery
of practical parallel supercomputing that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989
that subsequently made the news headlines,
I defined my globe the way mathematicians prefer, namely, as
a sixteen-dimensional hypersphere within a sixteen-dimensional hyperspace.
I visualized the two-raised-to-power sixteen,
or 64 binary thousand, processors that I programmed and used to solve
grand challenge problems as being equal distances apart
and distributed across the fifteen-dimensional hypersurface
of that hypersphere. In contrast to my neatly organized
and interconnected processors, the computers
that outline the Internet that encircled the Earth
were added organically and incrementally
and are non-identical to each other and non-equidistant from each other.
And as a result of those irregularities and non-uniformities,
the email communications between the computers on the Internet
must be asynchronously sent and received
and for that reason, the Internet itself cannot be harnessed
and used to solve the grand challenge initial-boundary value problems
that is a recurring decimal in extreme-scale mathematics
and computational physics. The email messaging within my supercomputer
is processor-to-processor emailing, not your everyday
person-to-computer-to-computer-to-person emailing. I discovered
practical parallel supercomputing when I figured out
how to automatically program across my new internet
and how to communicate synchronously while computing simultaneously
and doing both as the precondition for recording the fastest computation
that can arise from within the fastest computer in the world. That [quote unquote] “fastest computer”
is not a computer per se. I discovered that the fastest computer
is a virtual supercomputer that is an internet de facto. I was in the news headlines because
I figured out how to harness the slowest processors in the world
and harness them around a new internet and do so to record speeds
in supercomputing that were previously unrecorded.
I invented the world’s fastest computer
that computes across a new internet that is a new global network of
two-raised-to-power sixteen, or 65,536, commodity-off-the-shelf processors
that were equal distances apart from each other
and that were identical to each other
and that were tightly-coupled to each other
and that tightly-encircled a globe
that is shaped like a sixteen-dimensional hypersphere
in sixteen-dimensional hyperspace. I also envisioned
my new global network of 64 binary thousand processors
as married together as one cohesive supercomputing machinery
and married together by sixteen times two-raised-to-power sixteen,
or 1,048,576, bi-directional email wires that were uniform and regular
and that were etched onto the fifteen-dimensional surface
of that globe that was shaped like a
sixteen-dimensional hypersphere in hyperspace.
In the modern configuration of supercomputers
and at one foot per email wire, those email wires
will total 200 miles of cables. This never-before-seen internet
is called the Philip Emeagwali Internet. My Eureka Moment—of 8:15
in the morning of the Fourth of July 1989—made the news headlines
around the globe in 1989 and did so because
I was the first person to discover how to compute simultaneously
and around a globe, or how to compute around
a new internet that is a new global network of
tightly-coupled processors that shared nothing between each other.
That is, I de facto invented the world’s fastest computer
and I invented it by discovering how and why
parallel processing is the vital technology
that will make every supercomputer super. My world’s fastest computation occurred
after I discovered how to communicate synchronously
and do so around a new global network of powers-of-two processors
that is called the Philip Emeagwali Internet. [My Struggles to Invent a New Internet] In the 1970s, my ideas
on massively parallel supercomputing were not fully formed.
For that reason, my earliest research reports
were mocked and ridiculed and I was off handedly dismissed
for espousing a beautiful theory that lacked
an experimental confirmation. In the 1970s and ‘80s,
massively parallel processing was dismissed
as a supercomputing theory that will never gain many adherents.
That is, the idea of harnessing the potential supercomputing power
of an ensemble of 65,536 processors was ludicrous.
That was the reason I was the only full time programmer
of that ensemble of two-raised-to-power sixteen processors.
For the ten years onward of 1979, my research report
on the then unorthodox parallel supercomputer
grew from a few pages to 1,057 pages.
In 1989, my 40-page highlights of my 1,057-page research report
won the top prize in supercomputing and made the news headlines.
Looking back to the 1980s in the U.S., a rejection pattern that repeated itself
dozens of times was this: I would get a telephone interview
for a job that was advertised and get it because
I had the most hands-on experience in supercomputing.
During the interview, the interviewer is taken aback
when he discovers that I am black and African-born.
In the 1970s and ‘80s, they were so few black
vector supercomputer scientists that even I would have been shocked
if I had seen a black African giving my lecture on
massively parallel supercomputing. I experienced this cognitive dissonance
the first time I attended a research seminar lecture
in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992, that was delivered by
a very dark skinned mathematician of African descent.
She was known to the white mathematicians
but I—the only black mathematician in the audience—was the only person
in the auditorium that was in a state of denial.
It’s ironic that the only black male mathematician
in the audience of mathematicians was the only person
that denied that the black female mathematician
was a genius. Her lecture was on the ergodic theory
of dynamical systems. I presumed that she might not have
the command of her materials. She proved me wrong. Similarly, it was presumed that
it will be impossible to find a young, black,
and gifted mathematician that can solve the toughest problem
arising in extreme-scale computational mathematics.
That was the reason only one person
attended my research seminar on supercomputing
that I delivered in November 1982 in a large auditorium
that was a short walk from The White House, Washington, D.C.
My subsequent discovery of practical parallel processing
that occurred seven years later and that made the news headlines
was theorized in that supercomputing seminar
that all but one person boycotted. By the late 1980s, I realized that
my discovery that practical parallel processing
will become the vital technology that will underpin every supercomputer
will only be accepted if and only if, white supercomputer scientists
think that I am white. That was the reason I mailed
the research report on my invention of practical parallel supercomputing
to an independent committee of supercomputer scientists
that were 2,500 miles away in San Francisco, California.
The four members of that supercomputer committee
were appointed by the President of The Computer Society
that was the largest branch of the IEEE, the acronym for the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers that is the world’s largest
technical society. The Computer Society
was the world’s largest of its kind. That committee of foremost experts
in supercomputing were tasked with awarding the top prize
in supercomputing. The essence of the forty-page report
that I submitted to the IEEE and the detailed
1,057-page research report that won the top prize
in supercomputing is this: I discovered that
practical parallel processing will become the vital technology
that will underpin every supercomputer. The news of my invention
of practical parallel supercomputing spread like wildfire
and quickly made it to the dailies in many countries.
I discovered how to harness a new internet
that comprised of a global network of 65,536 processors
that encircled a globe and how to harness that new internet
to solve the toughest mathematical problems
arising in science and engineering and I discovered how to solve
grand challenge problems and solve them 65,536 times faster
than one processor solving the same problem alone. [Future of the Internet] What is the future of the Internet? I believe that in one thousand years,
our descendants will not have computers around them.
Their computers will be within them, instead of around them.
Our post-human descendants of Year Million
will not need computers because they will be computers
that encircle and enshroud planet Earth.
Our post-human descendants will be half humans and half processors
that are akin to the cyborgs in science fiction movies. [Supercomputers Are Used in Africa] [Why I Won the Top Prize in Supercomputing] I won the top award
in supercomputing in 1989 and I did so for my contributions
to the development of the practical parallel supercomputer.
After years of being denied credit for my inventions,
I learned to take the credit for my invention
of practical parallel processing, the technology that underpins
every supercomputer. I owe it to the 12-year-old
writing an inventor biography on Philip Emeagwali
to keep the credit for my contributions that he or she is reporting on.
That was the reason I spoke up for myself back in 1989
and showcased my contributions to the development of the computer. [Efforts to Sabotage My Research] Success breeds jealousy and haters.
Becoming a famous supercomputer scientist
was like putting a large target on my back.
Like any prominent black inventor of the past, I had doubters
who envied me and worked tirelessly and anonymously to discredit my science.
In 1989, I won the top prize in the field of supercomputing
and did so for discovering how to solve a grand challenge problem
and, specifically, for figuring out how to solve them across
an ensemble of 65,536 processors. In 1989,
I was the supercomputer scientist behind my discovery of how to harness
a new parallel supercomputer and how to use that new technology
to solve the toughest real-world problems,
such as fluid dynamical calculations called general circulation models
of atmospheric and oceanic flows that are used to predict global warming
and petroleum reservoir simulators that are used to recover more crude oil
and natural gas that are buried one mile deep
and within an oilfield that is the size of a town.
As the inventor of practical parallel supercomputing,
I was the only person that could deliver the first public lecture
that answers that grand challenge question.
Being the inventor created deep grooves of my ownership
of practical parallel supercomputing and, most importantly,
I was the only supercomputer scientist of the 1980s
that can show someone else how to massively parallel process
and how to do so across a new internet that is a new global network of
65,536 processors. That command of materials
and deep knowledge of mathematics, physics, and supercomputing
and that control, via emails, of my 64 binary thousand processors
made my lectures on massively parallel supercomputing
more authoritative as well as compelling. [Why I Invented Practical Parallel Supercomputing
Alone] As a research mathematician,
I stood out because I was the only person
that recorded the world’s fastest speed in supercomputing
and did so while solving the initial-boundary value problem
of mathematical physics. That achievement was the reason
I was the only person that won the top prize
in the field of supercomputing and won it alone and did so when
up to fifty persons are teaming up to win that prize.
A century ago, the average scientific paper
had only one author. Today, the average scientific paper
has six authors. The paper on the experimental discovery of
the Higgs Boson had 3,061 co-discoverers
of the Higgs Boson. A boson is an elementary particle
that is believed to be responsible for all physical forces. [Supercomputers Are Also Used in Africa] For my country of birth, Nigeria,
poverty cannot be reduced by searching for
a huge deposit of crude oil and natural gas
and discovering it in Sokoto of the far northeastern region
of Nigeria. Poverty alleviation
cannot be achieved from recovering only 50 percent of that crude oil deposit
and then paying 40 percent of that 50 percent as exploration royalty
to a foreign oil company. That’s like recovering only 30 percent
of the crude oil and natural gas that was originally discovered.
Economic growth for oil producing nations,
such as Nigeria, resides in having the brain power
to earn the remaining seventy percent of the potential revenue
from the Niger Delta oilfields of the southeastern region of Nigeria. The
first step in alleviating poverty in Africa
is to increase Africa’s intellectual capital and do so by reversing
the brain drain from Africa to the United States,
and do so by also attracting skilled non-Africans,
such as African-Americans, to live and work in Africa,
and do so by Africans being at the frontier of human knowledge
and Africans being at that unknown world
where African innovators could imagine the unimaginable. [New Knowledge is the Lifeblood of Humanity] Discoveries and inventions
are to science and technology what new songs and new movies
are to the entertainment industries. The invention is to technology
what the new song is to music. Inventions make living easier
for everybody. Discoveries make the world a better place,
and a more knowledgeable one. Thank you. I’m Philip Emeagwali. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture

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  1. I'm Philip Emeagwali. In the 1970s, my ideas on massively parallel supercomputing were not fully formed. For that reason, my earliest research reports were mocked and ridiculed and I was off handedly dismissed for espousing a beautiful theory that lacked an experimental confirmation. In the 1970s and ‘80s, massively parallel processing was dismissed as a supercomputing theory that will never gain many adherents. That is, the idea of harnessing the potential supercomputing power of an ensemble of 65,536 processors was ludicrous. That was the reason I was the only full time programmer of that ensemble of two-raised-to-power sixteen processors. For the ten years onward of 1979, my research report on the then unorthodox parallel supercomputer grew from a few pages to 1,057 pages. In 1989, my 40-page highlights of my 1,057-page research report won the top prize in supercomputing and made the news headlines.

    Looking back to the 1980s in the U.S.,

    a rejection pattern that repeated itself

    dozens of times was this:

    I would get a telephone interview

    for a job that was advertised

    and get it because

    I had the most hands-on experience

    in supercomputing.

    During the interview,

    the interviewer is taken aback

    when he discovers that I am black

    and African-born.

    In the 1970s and ‘80s,

    they were so few black

    vector supercomputer scientists

    that even I would have been shocked

    if I had seen a black African

    giving my lecture on

    massively parallel supercomputing.

    I experienced this cognitive dissonance

    the first time

    I attended a research seminar lecture

    in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992,

    that was delivered by

    a very dark skinned mathematician

    of African descent.

    She was known

    to the white mathematicians

    but I—the only black mathematician

    in the audience—was the only person

    in the auditorium

    that was in a state of denial.

    It’s ironic that

    the only black male mathematician

    in the audience of mathematicians

    was the only person

    that denied that

    the black female mathematician

    was a genius.

    Her lecture was on the ergodic theory

    of dynamical systems.

    I presumed that she might not have

    the command of her materials.

    She proved me wrong.

    Similarly, it was presumed that

    it will be impossible

    to find a young, black,

    and gifted mathematician

    that can solve the toughest problem

    arising in extreme-scale

    computational mathematics.

    That was the reason

    only one person

    attended my research seminar

    on supercomputing

    that I delivered in November 1982

    in a large auditorium

    that was a short walk

    from The White House, Washington, D.C.

    My subsequent discovery

    of practical parallel processing

    that occurred seven years later

    and that made the news headlines

    was theorized

    in that supercomputing seminar

    that all but one person boycotted.

    By the late 1980s, I realized that

    my discovery that

    practical parallel processing

    will become the vital technology

    that will underpin every supercomputer

    will only be accepted if and only if,

    white supercomputer scientists

    think that I am white.

    That was the reason I mailed

    the research report on my invention

    of practical parallel supercomputing

    to an independent committee

    of supercomputer scientists

    that were 2,500 miles away

    in San Francisco, California.

    The four members

    of that supercomputer committee

    were appointed by the President

    of The Computer Society

    that was the largest branch of the IEEE,

    the acronym for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

    that is the world’s largest

    technical society.

    The Computer Society

    was the world’s largest of its kind.

    That committee of foremost experts

    in supercomputing

    were tasked with awarding the top prize

    in supercomputing.

    The essence of the forty-page report

    that I submitted to the IEEE

    and the detailed

    1,057-page research report

    that won the top prize

    in supercomputing is this:

    I discovered that

    practical parallel processing

    will become the vital technology

    that will underpin every supercomputer.

    The news of my invention

    of practical parallel supercomputing

    spread like wildfire

    and quickly made it to the dailies

    in many countries.

    I discovered

    how to harness a new internet

    that comprised of

    a global network of 65,536 processors

    that encircled a globe

    and how to harness that new internet

    to solve the toughest

    mathematical problems

    arising in science and engineering

    and I discovered how to solve

    grand challenge problems

    and solve them 65,536 times faster

    than one processor

    solving the same problem alone.

    Future of the Internet

    What is the future of the Internet?

    I believe that in one thousand years,

    our descendants

    will not have computers around them.

    Their computers will be within them,

    instead of around them.

    Our post-human descendants

    of Year Million

    will not need computers because

    they will be computers

    that encircle and enshroud

    planet Earth.

    Our post-human descendants

    will be half humans and half processors

    that are akin to the cyborgs

    in science fiction movies.

    Supercomputers Are Used in Africa

    Why I Won the Top Prize in Supercomputing

    I won the top award

    in supercomputing in 1989

    and I did so for my contributions

    to the development of the

    practical parallel supercomputer.

    After years of being denied credit

    for my inventions,

    I learned to take the credit

    for my invention

    of practical parallel processing,

    the technology that underpins

    every supercomputer.

    I owe it to the 12-year-old

    writing an inventor biography

    on Philip Emeagwali

    to keep the credit for my contributions

    that he or she is reporting on.

    That was the reason

    I spoke up for myself back in 1989

    and showcased my contributions

    to the development of the computer.

    Efforts to Sabotage My Research

    Success breeds jealousy and haters.

    Becoming a famous

    supercomputer scientist

    was like putting a large target

    on my back.

    Like any prominent black inventor

    of the past, I had doubters

    who envied me and worked tirelessly

    and anonymously to discredit my science.

    In 1989, I won the top prize

    in the field of supercomputing

    and did so for discovering how to solve

    a grand challenge problem

    and, specifically, for figuring out

    how to solve them across

    an ensemble of 65,536 processors.

    In 1989,

    I was the supercomputer scientist

    behind my discovery of how to harness

    a new parallel supercomputer

    and how to use that new technology

    to solve the toughest

    real-world problems,

    such as fluid dynamical calculations

    called general circulation models

    of atmospheric and oceanic flows

    that are used to predict global warming

    and petroleum reservoir simulators

    that are used to recover more crude oil

    and natural gas

    that are buried one mile deep

    and within an oilfield

    that is the size of a town.

    As the inventor

    of practical parallel supercomputing,

    I was the only person

    that could deliver the first public lecture

    that answers

    that grand challenge question.

    Being the inventor

    created deep grooves of my ownership

    of practical parallel supercomputing

    and, most importantly,

    I was the only supercomputer scientist

    of the 1980s

    that can show someone else

    how to massively parallel process

    and how to do so across a new internet

    that is a new global network of

    65,536 processors.

    That command of materials

    and deep knowledge of mathematics, physics, and supercomputing

    and that control, via emails,

    of my 64 binary thousand processors

    made my lectures

    on massively parallel supercomputing

    more authoritative

    as well as compelling.

    Why I Invented Practical Parallel Supercomputing Alone

    As a research mathematician,

    I stood out because

    I was the only person

    that recorded the world’s fastest speed

    in supercomputing

    and did so while solving

    the initial-boundary value problem

    of mathematical physics.

    That achievement was the reason

    I was the only person that won

    the top prize

    in the field of supercomputing

    and won it alone and did so when

    up to fifty persons are teaming up

    to win that prize.

    A century ago,

    the average scientific paper

    had only one author.

    Today, the average scientific paper

    has six authors.

    The paper on the experimental discovery of the Higgs Boson

    had 3,061 co-discoverers

    of the Higgs Boson.

    A boson is an elementary particle

    that is believed to be responsible

    for all physical forces.

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