Philip Emeagwali – From War Torn Nigeria To Inventing The ‘World’s Fastest Computer’ Based On Bees!


Dr. Philip Emeagwali was born in civil-war torn Nigeria in 1954. He had to leave school at 14 because his family could not afford the fees but from his rocket shell crumbled home his father kept pushing education, they worked hard on mathematics until Phillip outdone his father! He continued pushing and at 17 he earned a scholarship to Oregon State University. He obtained a BS in mathematics, three other degrees, a Ph.D. in Scientific computing (from the University of Michigan, although his thesis was apparently not accepted and court appeals did not change this!) and two more Masters degrees from George Washington University.

All this education came to it’s head in 1989 when he won a prestigious prize.

Emeagwali had been studying bees and the way they worked together in the hive, the honeycomb structured working environment gave him a lot of inspiration for improving the way computers worked. He created a super computer that used 65,000 processors performing computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second. This was dubbed the world’s fastest compter at the time and won him the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize ($1,000) for price-performance.

Emeagwali applied the CM-2 massively-parallel computer for computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modelling and was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.

He is often referred to as “The Bill Gates” of Nigeria.

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