Friday, November 7, 2014
Philip Emeagwali - The Supercomputer
Nigerian born Dr. Philip Emeagwali is credited for inventing a formula that allows Supercomputers powered by thousands of processors to perform billions of calculations per second -- a discovery that made international headlines and inspired the reinvention of Supercomputers. The Supercomputer comprises of thousands of networked computers and the Internet also comprises of millions of networked computers. The supercomputer spawned the Internet.
Emeagwali's 1970s hypothesis on 64,000 networked computers around the Earth led to his programming of 64,000 processors inside a big box to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second, a world record in 1989. For the latter achievement, he won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, which is the “Nobel prize of supercomputing.” Growing up in Africa
Born in 1954 in a remote Nigerian village, Emeagwali was declared a child math prodigy. His father nurtured his skill with daily arithmetic drills. In 1967, the civil war in his country forced him to drop out of school at age twelve. When he turned fourteen, he was conscripted into the Biafran army. After the war ended, he completed his high school equivalency by self-study and came to the United States on a mathematics scholarship at age nineteen. Emeagwali Helped Give Birth to the Supercomputer
After 15 years of study and research at the foci of mathematics, physics and computer science, Emeagwali achieved a breakthrough in the speed of calculations which made international headlines because, until that time, no one believed that it would be possible to program thousands of inexpensive processors to outperform supercomputers.
A supercomputer is 100,000 times faster than a laptop computer, costs up to $400 million each and occupying the space of four tennis courts. Comparing a supercomputer to a computer is like comparing an aircraft carrier to a rowboat. Emeagwali’s discovery established that the collective power of thousands of processors could indeed be harnessed. This knowledge was the crucial turning point that inspired the reinvention of supercomputers to utilize thousands of processors. As a measure of the impact of the supercomputer today, the supercomputer market is now $6 billion a year.