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  • Why is Philip Emeagwali Famous? - A Black Mathematician and His Contributions to Mathematics

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    Philip Emeagwali Lecture 180912

    Why is Philip Emeagwali Famous? - A Black Mathematician's Contributions to Mathematics

    Why is Philip Emeagwali Famous?

    My invention
    of a new supercomputer
    put me in the news headlines
    and in the June 20, 1990 issue
    of the Wall Street Journal.
    I was the cover story
    of the June 1990 issue
    of the SIAM News.
    The SIAM News
    is the top mathematics publication
    and is published by
    the Society of Industrial
    and Applied Mathematics.
    The cover stories in the SIAM News
    report new inventions in mathematics
    and they are written by
    research mathematicians
    and written for research mathematicians.
    In the cover story of the SIAM News
    of June 1990,
    it was reported that I—Philip Emeagwali—
    had mathematically invented
    how to solve the toughest problems
    arising in modern calculus
    and arising in extreme-scale algebra
    and invented how to solve them across
    a new ensemble of 65,536
    commonly available processors.
    I invented
    how to use that new supercomputer
    to solve many problems at once
    and to solve the largest-scaled problems
    arising in modern algebra.

    6.1.6 Contributions of Philip Emeagwali to Physics

    On the Fourth of July 1989,
    the state-of-the-art of that toughest problem in modern algebra
    was a system of 24 million equations
    of algebra
    that arose from
    my finite difference discretizations
    of a system of partial differential equations
    that I invented
    that mathematically encoded
    a set of laws of physics
    that governs
    the subterranean motions of crude oil, injected water, and natural gas
    that flows one mile-deep
    underneath the surface of the Earth
    and that flows from water injection wells
    towards
    crude oil and natural gas production wells.
    I visualized my new instrument
    of computational physics
    as a new internet
    that I defined
    as my new global network
    of 65,536 tightly-coupled
    commodity-off-the-shelf processors
    with each processor
    operating its own operating system
    and with each processor
    having its own dedicated memory
    that shared nothing with each other.
    I visualized my new internet
    as a new instrument
    for solving
    the most extreme-scaled
    problems arising in algebra
    and for solving them
    as one seamless, cohesive unit
    that is a new supercomputer de facto.
    The defining feature
    of my invention
    of that new internet
    was that the new technology
    enabled me to compute synchronously
    and to communicate automatically
    and to do so via emails
    that I sent to and received from
    two-to-power-sixteen
    sixteen-bit long email addresses.
    Each of my 64 binary thousand
    email addresses
    had no @ sign or dot com suffix.

    6.1.7 Sometimes, the Impossible is Possible

    Back in 1989,
    no author of any mathematics textbook
    understood the concept of
    solving many problems at once,
    or in parallel.
    Back in 1989,
    Seymour Cray
    was the spokesman
    for the supercomputer community.
    If Seymour Cray’s granddaughter
    came to him for help
    with her homework assignment
    on how to solve
    many mathematical problems at once,
    Seymour Cray
    would not have been able
    to help her
    to solve her problem in parallel.
    The reason was that Seymour Cray
    ardently believed that
    the supercomputer technology
    that I invented
    that enables parallel processing across
    my ensemble of 65,536
    tightly-coupled processors
    was impossible and science fiction.




    53.3.2 Supercomputing the Motions of a Tennis Ball

    I discovered that I recuperated faster
    when I played tennis
    in the late afternoon.
    And that I recuperated slower
    when I did not play tennis
    but instead
    watched television in the evening.
    In the late 1970s,
    I recuperated with three to five sets
    of tennis games
    at the Banneker Recreation Center
    Tennis Courts
    that was named after
    Benjamin Banneker
    and that was across the street
    from and between
    the School of Engineering
    of Howard University
    and Benjamin Banneker High School,
    Washington, DC.
    Benjamin Banneker
    was the prominent
    black American mathematician
    of Senegalese ancestry.
    Benjamin Banneker
    was extolled as a “scientific genius”
    by both Thomas Jefferson
    and the French Academy of Sciences.
    Benjamin Banneker
    was on a US postage stamp
    and is the subject of school reports.
    Benjamin Banneker
    famously and politely challenged Thomas Jefferson
    by famously writing that:

    [quote]
    “The colour of the skin
    is in no way connected
    with strength of the mind
    or intellectual powers.”
    [unquote]

    In the summer of 1977,
    I was twenty-two years old
    and hanging around
    Charles Drew dormitory
    of Howard University,
    Washington, D.C., and doing so
    without realizing that


    53.3.3 Crossing Paths With Benjamin Banneker

    It seems surreal
    and a strange coincidence
    that I followed the footsteps
    of Benjamin Banneker
    even though he was born
    two centuries,
    two decades, and three years
    before I was born.
    Benjamin Banneker Show less
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