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Philip Emeagwali

Philip Emeagwali (born in 1954) is a Nigerian-born engineer, mathematician, computer scientist and 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.[1] His early schooling was suspended in 1967 as a result of the Nigerian Civil War. At 14 years, he served in the Biafran army. After the war he completed high-school equivalency through self-study. He travelled to the United States to study under a scholarship following completion of a correspondence course at the University of London[citation needed]. He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. During this time, he worked as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming. He later moved to Washington DC, receiving in 1986 a master's degree from George Washington University in ocean and marine engineering, and a second master's in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.[2][dead link][citation needed]

He is married to Dale Brown Emeagwali, a noted African-American microbiologist.[3]


Emeagwali received a $1,000[4][dead link][citation needed] 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, based on an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer for computational fluid dynamics (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 (superior to what Emeagwali had achieved) and an absolute performance of 6.0 Gflops, but the judges decided not to award both prizes to the same team.[5][6] Emeagwali's simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.[7]

Emeagwali was voted the "35th-greatest African (and greatest African scientist) of all time" in a survey by New African magazine.[8][dead link][citation needed] His achievements were quoted in a speech by Bill Clinton as an example of what Nigerians could achieve when given the opportunity.[9][dead link][citation needed] He is also a frequent feature of Black History Month articles in the popular press.[10][11][dead link]

Court case and the denial of degree[edit]

Emeagwali studied for a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan from 1987 through 1991. His thesis was not accepted by a committee of internal and external examiners and thus he was not awarded the degree. Emeagwali filed a court challenge, stating that the decision was a violation of his civil rights and that the university had discriminated against him in several ways because of his race. The court challenge was dismissed, as was an appeal to the Michigan state Court of Appeals.[12]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Emeagwali — Please support Wikipedia.
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