Philip Emeagwali | How I Invented a New Computer | Famous Inventors for Black History Month

Philip Emeagwali | How I Invented a New Computer | Famous Inventors for Black History Month


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] [Inventing a New Supercomputer] [Changing the Way We Look at the Computer] [Practical Parallel Supercomputing] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m Philip Emeagwali. On the Fourth of July 1989,
in Los Alamos, New Mexico, United States, I discovered
how to solve the toughest problems arising in science and engineering.
I discovered how to solve grand challenge problems
and how to solve them by dividing them into one million smaller problems.
I discovered how to solve those problems at once,
or in parallel, and how to solve them across one million processors
that outlined and defined a new internet. That discovery,
called practical parallel supercomputing, was my physical realization
of a hypothesis that was published as science fiction
back on February 1, 1922. That science fiction was published as
64,000 humans working together as one
and doing so to solve the complex partial differential equations of calculus
that, in turn, must be solved because their solutions were the preconditions
to mathematically forecasting the weather for the whole Earth.
I was in the news headlines shortly after my discovery
that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989. I was in the news headlines
because I was the first person to figure out how to solve
that grand challenge problem of weather forecasting
and for figuring out how to solve the problem across
a new internet that is a new global network of
64 binary thousand processors that encirlced a globe
in the sixteenth dimension and encircled that globe
in the manner the Internet encircled the Earth.
Parallel processing is vital to the supercomputer
that must solve up to one million problems
at once, or in parallel. [CONTRIBUTIONS TO LARGE-SCALE ALGEBRA] It took a decade for my discovery
of parallel processing to eventually reach the ears
of the supercomputer committee that awarded me the top prize
in the field of supercomputing. Prior to winning that top prize,
I studied physics and calculus and I did so full time
for twenty years. Calculus and large-scale algebra
are at the granite core of extreme-scale computational physics
that, in turn, is the test bed for never-before-seen supercomputers.
My contributions to mathematics made the news headlines in 1989 because I
discovered how to reformulate
the tridiagonal system of equations arising in large-scale
computational physics, such as the highest,
the most fine-grained, and the most extreme-scaled
petroleum reservoir simulations of the oilfields
of the Niger Delta region of southeastern Nigeria.
I was in the news because I returned to first principles,
or the laws of physics. From the laws of physics,
I reformulated the grand challenge problem
of computational physics. I achieved that by inventing
a diagonal system of governing equations of algebra
that replaced the otherwise tridiagonal system
that must be solved sequentially, instead of solved
in parallel and across millions upon millions
of commodity-off-the-shelf processors. I set up the largest system of equations of
algebra and I did so in the context of
discovering and recovering otherwise elusive crude oil and natural gas.
I was in the news headlines because I used the oilfield as my testbed
and used it to prove for the first time ever
that the parallel supercomputer is faster than the sequential supercomputer. [My Contributions to the Supercomputer] Prior to my experimental discovery,
practical parallel supercomputing was largely the stuff of
theorical computer science. In my world
of the parallel supercomputer, July 4, 1989, was a red-letter day.
My parallel processing experiment made the news headlines because
it was a game changer for the field of supercomputing.
The first ever discovery that the parallel supercomputer
is the fastest computer in the world opened the door
to a new supercomputer and to a new computer science.
In my new way of parallel processing, the modern computer
would not be a computer per se but will be billions upon billions
of interconnected processors and email pathways
by which the processors communicate and work together
to solve grand challenge problems arising in science, engineering,
and medicine. [Inventing a New Computer] [The First Supercomputer I Programmed] The first supercomputer
that I programmed, back on June 20, 1974,
was named the CDC 3300. That supercomputer
was front-ended by the PDP-8 computer. I programmed that supercomputer
to solve a system of equations of algebra. That supercomputer
was manufactured in December 1965. In March 1967,
that supercomputer was upgraded to CDC 3500.
That supercomputer was at 1800 SW Campus Way,
Corvallis, Oregon, United States. That supercomputer
ran a Corvallis grown operating system called OS-3,
an acronym for Oregon State Open Shop Operating System.
In Corvallis (Oregon) and from the 1960s to June 1977,
I was one of the up to eight programmers that could simultaneously log into
the CDC 3300. In Oregon and in 1974 and onwards,
I took computer courses. I also learned about computers
from a twenty half-hour videotaped series
that were recorded back in October 1971. I also studied the 140-paged
computer manual that came along with the
videotaped series. [A Black African in Whitest America] Oregon was one of the whitest states
in the United States. Oregon had always attracted
white separatist groups who advocated
for the reinstatement of laws similar to the infamous
Oregon Lash Law of 1844. The Oregon Lash Law
that was passed thirteen decades before my arrival
in Oregon stipulated that any black person
in Oregon Country, free or slave, shall be whipped
twice a year until he or she flees Oregon Territory.
I first arrived in Oregon on Sunday March 24, 1974.
In my first year, I lived in the cities of Monmouth
and Independence (Oregon). In my second and third years,
I lived in Corvallis, Oregon. People in Monmouth (Oregon)
see a black person about once a week. The first two cities in Oregon
that I lived in had no black couple. When I left Corvallis (Oregon),
on June 5, 1977, it had a population of about 40,000
but had only one black family. Back in early 2010,
I was told by the International Student advisor
in Monmouth, Oregon, that no African
lives in Monmouth, Oregon. Monmouth (Oregon)
was the first American city that I lived in
and I was the fourth Nigerian to live in that city.
Due to social isolation, black people that lived in
Corvallis (Oregon) don’t stay long in Corvallis.
Despite its checkered past, I found the people of Oregon
to be friendly and supportive. It seems like Oregon
was trying to distant itself from its past. [Inventing a New Supercomputer] I began supercomputing in Oregon
on June 20, 1974. The CDC 3300 was called
the first supercomputer because it was the first computer
that was calibrated at one million instructions per second.
To discover is to change the narrative of science.
Before 1989, computer science was a study of the science of
processing information on only one isolated processor
that was not a member of an ensemble of processors.
After 1989, the frontier of knowledge of computer science
was extended to an ensemble of processors.
The grand challenge question of supercomputing
is the toughest IQ test in science and engineering.
My contribution to the development of the computer
is this: I changed the narrative
in computer centers and in supercomputer textbooks.
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, in Oregon, District of Columbia, Maryland,
Wyoming, and New Mexico, I was exploring
the grand challenge questions that will change the way
we looked at the computer. [Turning Science Fiction to Reality] By definition and as the inventor,
I was not trained in the never-before-seen
massively parallel supercomputer technology that did not exist.
That is, I was searching for answers to grand challenge questions
that could not be googled in the 1970s. Back in June 1970, at age fifteen,
at Christ the King College, Onitsha, Nigeria, I unknowingly
began my technological journey to the unknown world
of the massively parallel supercomputer that was then
in the realm of science fiction. The mathematical path
that I forged—from my high school algebra textbook
to the solution of the largest system of equations
in algebra—took me across a new internet that I visualized
within a sixteen dimensional hyperspace. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture

One thought to “Philip Emeagwali | How I Invented a New Computer | Famous Inventors for Black History Month”

  1. I’m Philip Emeagwali. On the Fourth of July 1989, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, United States, I discovered how to solve the toughest problems arising in science and engineering. I discovered how to solve grand challenge problems and how to solve them by dividing them into one million smaller problems. I discovered how to solve those problems at once, or in parallel, and how to solve them across one million processors that outlined and defined a new internet. That discovery, called practical parallel supercomputing, was my physical realization of a hypothesis that was published as science fiction back on February 1, 1922. That science fiction was published as 64,000 humans working together as one and doing so to solve the complex

    partial differential equations of calculus

    that, in turn, must be solved because their solutions were the preconditions

    to mathematically forecasting

    the weather for the whole Earth.

    I was in the news headlines

    shortly after my discovery

    that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989.

    I was in the news headlines

    because I was the first person

    to figure out how to solve

    that grand challenge problem

    of weather forecasting

    and for figuring out

    how to solve the problem across

    a new internet

    that is a new global network of

    64 binary thousand processors

    that encirlced a globe

    in the sixteenth dimension

    and encircled that globe

    in the manner the Internet

    encircled the Earth.

    Parallel processing

    is vital to the supercomputer

    that must solve

    up to one million problems

    at once, or in parallel.

    CONTRIBUTIONS TO LARGE-SCALE ALGEBRA

    It took a decade for my discovery

    of parallel processing

    to eventually reach the ears

    of the supercomputer committee

    that awarded me the top prize

    in the field of supercomputing.

    Prior to winning that top prize,

    I studied physics and calculus

    and I did so full time

    for twenty years.

    Calculus and large-scale algebra

    are at the granite core

    of extreme-scale computational physics

    that, in turn, is the test bed

    for never-before-seen supercomputers.

    My contributions to mathematics

    made the news headlines in 1989 because I discovered

    how to reformulate

    the tridiagonal system of equations

    arising in large-scale

    computational physics,

    such as the highest,

    the most fine-grained,

    and the most extreme-scaled

    petroleum reservoir simulations

    of the oilfields

    of the Niger Delta region

    of southeastern Nigeria.

    I was in the news because

    I returned to first principles,

    or the laws of physics.

    From the laws of physics,

    I reformulated

    the grand challenge problem

    of computational physics.

    I achieved that by inventing

    a diagonal system of

    governing equations of algebra

    that replaced the otherwise

    tridiagonal system

    that must be solved sequentially,

    instead of solved

    in parallel and across

    millions upon millions

    of commodity-off-the-shelf processors.

    I set up the largest system of equations of algebra

    and I did so in the context of

    discovering and recovering otherwise elusive crude oil and natural gas.

    I was in the news headlines because

    I used the oilfield as my testbed

    and used it to prove

    for the first time ever

    that the parallel supercomputer

    is faster than the sequential supercomputer.

    My Contributions to the Supercomputer

    Prior to my experimental discovery,

    practical parallel supercomputing

    was largely the stuff of

    theorical computer science.

    In my world

    of the parallel supercomputer,

    July 4, 1989, was a red-letter day.

    My parallel processing experiment

    made the news headlines because

    it was a game changer

    for the field of supercomputing.

    The first ever discovery

    that the parallel supercomputer

    is the fastest computer in the world

    opened the door

    to a new supercomputer

    and to a new computer science.

    In my new way of parallel processing, the modern computer

    would not be a computer per se

    but will be billions upon billions

    of interconnected processors

    and email pathways

    by which the processors communicate

    and work together

    to solve grand challenge problems

    arising in science, engineering,

    and medicine.

    Inventing a New Computer

    The First Supercomputer I Programmed

    The first supercomputer

    that I programmed,

    back on June 20, 1974,

    was named the CDC 3300.

    That supercomputer

    was front-ended by the PDP-8 computer.

    I programmed that supercomputer

    to solve a system of equations of algebra.

    That supercomputer

    was manufactured in December 1965.

    In March 1967,

    that supercomputer was upgraded

    to CDC 3500.

    That supercomputer

    was at 1800 SW Campus Way,

    Corvallis, Oregon, United States.

    That supercomputer

    ran a Corvallis grown

    operating system called OS-3,

    an acronym for Oregon State

    Open Shop Operating System.

    In Corvallis (Oregon) and from the 1960s

    to June 1977,

    I was one of the up to eight programmers

    that could simultaneously log into

    the CDC 3300.

    In Oregon and in 1974 and onwards,

    I took computer courses.

    I also learned about computers

    from a twenty half-hour

    videotaped series

    that were recorded back in October 1971.

    I also studied the 140-paged

    computer manual

    that came along with the

    videotaped series.

    A Black African in Whitest America

    Oregon was one of the whitest states

    in the United States.

    Oregon had always attracted

    white separatist groups

    who advocated

    for the reinstatement

    of laws similar to the infamous

    Oregon Lash Law of 1844.

    The Oregon Lash Law

    that was passed

    thirteen decades before my arrival

    in Oregon

    stipulated that any black person

    in Oregon Country, free or slave,

    shall be whipped

    twice a year until he or she

    flees Oregon Territory.

    I first arrived in Oregon

    on Sunday March 24, 1974.

    In my first year,

    I lived in the cities of Monmouth

    and Independence (Oregon).

    In my second and third years,

    I lived in Corvallis, Oregon.

    People in Monmouth (Oregon)

    see a black person about once a week.

    The first two cities in Oregon

    that I lived in had no black couple.

    When I left Corvallis (Oregon),

    on June 5, 1977,

    it had a population of about 40,000

    but had only one black family.

    Back in early 2010,

    I was told by the

    International Student advisor

    in Monmouth, Oregon,

    that no African

    lives in Monmouth, Oregon.

    Monmouth (Oregon)

    was the first American city

    that I lived in

    and I was the fourth Nigerian

    to live in that city.

    Due to social isolation,

    black people that lived in

    Corvallis (Oregon)

    don’t stay long in Corvallis.

    Despite its checkered past,

    I found the people of Oregon

    to be friendly and supportive.

    It seems like Oregon

    was trying to distant itself

    from its past.

    Inventing a New Supercomputer

    I began supercomputing in Oregon

    on June 20, 1974.

    The CDC 3300 was called

    the first supercomputer because

    it was the first computer

    that was calibrated

    at one million instructions per second.

    To discover

    is to change the narrative of science.

    Before 1989, computer science

    was a study of the science of

    processing information

    on only one isolated processor

    that was not a member

    of an ensemble of processors.

    After 1989, the frontier of knowledge

    of computer science

    was extended to an ensemble

    of processors.

    The grand challenge question

    of supercomputing

    is the toughest IQ test

    in science and engineering.

    My contribution

    to the development of the computer

    is this:

    I changed the narrative

    in computer centers

    and in supercomputer textbooks.

    Back in the 1970s and ‘80s,

    in Oregon, District of Columbia, Maryland, Wyoming,

    and New Mexico, I was exploring

    the grand challenge questions

    that will change the way

    we looked at the computer.

    Turning Science Fiction to Reality

    By definition and as the inventor,

    I was not trained

    in the never-before-seen

    massively parallel supercomputer technology

    that did not exist.

    That is, I was searching for answers

    to grand challenge questions

    that could not be googled in the 1970s.

    Back in June 1970, at age fifteen,

    at Christ the King College,

    Onitsha, Nigeria, I unknowingly

    began my technological journey

    to the unknown world

    of the massively parallel supercomputer

    that was then

    in the realm of science fiction.

    The mathematical path

    that I forged—from my high school algebra textbook

    to the solution

    of the largest system of equations

    in algebra—took me across

    a new internet that I visualized

    within a sixteen dimensional hyperspace.

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