Philip Emeagwali: “I Changed the Way Mathematicians Count” | Paradigm Shifts in Computer Science
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Philip Emeagwali: “I Changed the Way Mathematicians Count” | Paradigm Shifts in Computer Science


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] [Changing the Way Mathematicians Count] [Changing the Way We Look at Computers] As a research supercomputer scientist,
my goal is to discover how to compute fastest
and do so with the slowest processors, or how to do more with less
and how to create reality from science-fiction.
Parallel processing—the technology that enables the supercomputer
to solve many problems at once—enabled me
to solve 65,536 problems at once. In principle, your computer
can do whatever my supercomputer can do.
However, your computer that is powered by only one
isolated processor takes 30,000 years to solve a grand challenge problem
that my supercomputer that is powered by an ensemble of
over 10 million processors takes only one day to solve.
Practical parallel supercomputing must be investigated on a broad canvas
and imagined in broad imaginative strokes.
Practical parallel supercomputing only benefits humankind
if and only if it is proven to solve the grand challenge problems.
Practical parallel supercomputing is not for the faint of heart
or for those locked within their own intellectual silos.
As a research supercomputer scientist, my goal was not to merely invent
new algebra and new calculus. My research goal was to project
my new mathematics and project that new knowledge
from the blackboard to the motherboard
and across a new internet that is a new global network of
64 binary thousand processors and, most importantly, to project
that new supercomputer into the real world
where it helps my country of birth, Nigeria, discover and recover
otherwise elusive crude oil and natural gas,
or where it impacts the market trader in my ancestral hometown
of Onitsha. The fastest supercomputer
attracts the toughest mathematical problems
in physics in the manner a high mountain
attracts the storms. The supercomputer is to mathematics
what the Nile is to Egypt. Each is a lifeline.
The supercomputer is an intellectual extension
of the complex equations scribbled on the mathematician’s blackboard.
My goal was to invent a supercomputer out of the slowest processors.
Inventing that supercomputer demanded that I become an athlete
of the mind. Nine out of ten supercomputer cycles
are consumed solving the partial differential equation
of calculus and physics. For that reason,
practical parallel supercomputing may be defined
as solving millions upon millions of initial-boundary value problems
at once. On the Fourth of July 1989,
I announced my discovery of practical parallel supercomputing.
The response from everybody was that I made a mistake.
The first six copies of my 1,057-page research report
that was dated July 4, 1989 that described how I discovered
practical parallel supercomputing were thrown into the dustbin
of the reviewers. I was mocked
and I was warned that I was computing with science-fiction,
not with a new supercomputer. Everybody that said that
I made a mistake was mistaken. Practical parallel supercomputing
has withstood the test of time and is the vital technology
that powers every supercomputer manufactured today.
That experimental discovery that occurred on the Fourth of July 1989
took the parallel supercomputer from a research and development project
to the widespread commercialization that is called the modern computer.
Parallel processing validated the modern computer.
The amount of new computations that I discovered how to compute
on the 4th of July 1989 was 64 binary thousand times
what could be computed only one day earlier. After 1989, massively parallel processing
became the standard technology that must be used in all supercomputers.
Before 1989, the fastest one thousand supercomputers
in the world derived their supercomputing speeds
from only one vector processing unit. After 1989,
the fastest one thousand supercomputers in the world
derived their supercomputing speeds from up to 10.65 million
central processing units that counter-intuitively computed
10.65 million things at once, instead of intuitively computing
only one thing at a time. My 1989 paradigm shift
from computing only one thing at a time to computing 65,536 things at once
opened the door to computing 10.65 million things at once.
A future world without the parallel supercomputer
could be a world without the computer of the future.
If parallel supercomputing is subtracted from human knowledge,
nearly every computer, all supercomputers,
and the internet itself will shut down!! Parallel supercomputing is not
a new knowledge that was created. Parallel supercomputing exists theoretically
and a priori and existed as a technique
that was uncovered for computing faster. I discovered practical parallel supercomputing
when I parallel processed across my new internet
that was a new global network of 65,536 tightly-coupled,
commodity-off-the-shelf processors that shared nothing between each other
and that were equal distances apart from each other.
I turned science-fiction to reality by discovering
how to parallel compute and how to do so sight unseen.
I was in the news back in 1989 because I was the first person
to solve a grand challenge problem and solve it
by massively parallel computing it. I achieved that
supercomputer breakthrough and did so at a time
all my 64 binary thousand processors
were expected to forever remain silent. Parallel supercomputing is an invention because
computers and supercomputers are now parallel processing. Thank you. I’m Philip Emeagwali. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture

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