Philip Emeagwali

Engineer, Scientist and Inventor

Known as the 'Superbrain of Africa'

A father of the Internet
Philip Emeagwali, a computer engineer , is but one example. He uses his mathematical and computer expertise to develop methods for extracting more petroleum from oil fields.

It was his formula that used 65,000 separate computer processors to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second in 1989. That feat led to computer scientists comprehending the capabilities of supercomputers and the practical applications of creating a system that allowed multiple computers to communicate. He is recognized as one of the fathers of the Internet.

Supercomputers range in price from $30 million to $100 million, and computer companies had reservations about building them for fear few agencies would make such pricey purchases.

"At that time, the argument was, 'We shouldn't build computers that way because who can program them?' " said Emeagwali, who is also a civil engineer. "I answered that question by successfully programming them."

Future applications for Emeagwali's breakthroughs with the use of data generated by massively parallel computers include weather forecasting and the study of global warming.

Genius of Our Age
interviewed by The Guardian


Distinction could well be Philip Emeagwali's middle name. A high school drop-out and former war refugee, this US based Nigerian is today the wonder boy of supercomputing. He has been called the "Bill Gates of Africa." His earlier schoolmates at Christ the King College, Onitsha, remember him as "Calculus." Emeagwali holds several records: the world's fastest computation of 3.1 billion calculations per second; world record for solving the largest partial differential equations with 8 million grid points; world record for solving the largest weather forecasting equations with 128 million grid points; world record for an unprecedented parallel computer speedup; discovered the counter-intuitive hypercube paradox; formulated the theory of tessellated models for parallel computing; discovered chirality, duality, helicity, etc. The remaining achievements run into eight more pages. Emeagwali has been honored with all the top awards in his field, but he says the world hasn't seen anything yet. Over a period of seven months, The Guardian's Reuben Abati, currently in the United States, interviewed Emeagwali, one topic at a time, on a variety of issues.