Philip Emeagwali is a renowned computer scientist and mathematician whose research work supplied the background of what we have today as the internet. Emeagwali has been profiled as the Most Intelligent Living Scientist, The Second Most Intelligent Living Mathematician and The Third Smartest Living Person.
He was born into a family in Akure, Ondo State in 1954. Sometime during the civil war, he had to quit school since his family could no longer afford to keep him in one. But according to him, his journey to genius began from his childhood when his father would make him solve a hundred math problems within one hour, daily.
Later on, he gained admission into the University of London and went ahead to obtain other degrees at George Washington University and the University of Maryland, as well as a doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, all in the United States.
While at the University of Michigan, he was involved in a scientific debate on how to simulate the detection of oil reservoirs using a supercomputer. It was this research that led him to create the world’s fastest supercomputer which uses 65,000 processors and performs computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second.
In 1989, Emeagwali received the Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer. The application used computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modelling. He won in the “price/performance” category, with a performance figure of about 400 Mflops/$1 million. His method involved each microprocessor communicating with six neighbours, which is basically what the internet is today, a whole lot of computers sharing information with each other.
Emeagwali’s intelligence has been defined by some as being too high to be measured on conventional tests, and his resume extending towards infinity. He is listed in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America. His research in making oil fields more productive saves the United States hundreds of millions of dollars yearly.
Emeagwali was voted the “35th-greatest African (and greatest African scientist) of all time” in a survey by New African magazine. His achievements were once quoted in a speech by Bill Clinton as:
“An example of what Nigerians could achieve when given the opportunity.”
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