Philip Emeagwali

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Philip Emeagwali
Born (1954-08-23) 23 August 1954 (age 69)
Alma materGeorge Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Oregon State University
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science

Philip Emeagwali (born 23 August 1954) is a computer scientist originally from Nigeria.[1] He won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for price-performance in high-performance computing applications, in an oil reservoir modeling calculation using a novel mathematical formulation and implementation.[2] He is known for making controversial claims about his achievements that are disputed by the scientific community.[3]


Philip Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 1954.[4] He was raised in Onitsha in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. His early schooling was suspended in 1967 as a result of the Nigerian Civil War. At age 13, he served in the Biafran army. After the war he completed high-school equivalence through self-study.[5]

Later on he married Dale Brown Emeagwali, an African-American microbiologist.[6]


He traveled to the United States to study under a scholarship following completion of a course at the University of London. He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977.[7] He later moved to Washington D.C., 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.[8] Next magazine suggested that Emeagwali claimed to have further degrees.[9][10] During this time, he worked as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming.

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.[11] 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][13][14]


Emeagwali received the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize[2][15] for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer. The application used computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modeling. He received a prize in "price/performance" category, with a performance figure of about 400 Mflops/$1M.[citation needed] The winner in the "performance" category was also the winner of the Price/performance category, but unable to receive two prizes: Mobil Research and Thinking Machines used the CM-2 for seismic data processing and achieved the higher ratio of 500 Mflops/$1M. The judges decided on one award per entry.[citation needed] His method involved each microprocessor communicating with six neighbors.[10]

Emeagwali's simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.[1] He was cited by Bill Clinton as an example of what Nigerians can achieve when given the opportunity[16] and is frequently featured in popular press articles for Black History Month.[17][10]

Debunked controversial claims[edit]

Emeagwali has made several controversial claims about his achievements that are disputed by the scientific community. His claim of being a father of the Internet, of having invented the Connection Machine, of possessing 41 patented inventions, of winning "the Nobel Prize of Computing" and of being a "doctor" and/or "professor" have been conclusively debunked with widely documented evidence.[3] Speaking during a visit to Switzerland in April 2009, Mr. Emeagwali said he was the first to program a hypercube "to solve a grand challenge defined as the 20 gold-ring problems in computing. That discovery, in part, inspired the reinvention of supercomputers as an Internet." He claimed that by his effort, he was able to set three world records and improve on Newton's second law of motion.[18]


Selected publications[edit]

  • Emeagwali, P. (2003). How do we reverse the brain drain. speech given at.[20]
  • Emeagwali, P. (1997). Can Nigeria leapfrog into the information age. In World Igbo Congress. New York: August.


  1. ^ Ndiokwere, Nathaniel I. (1998). Search for Greener Pastures: Igbo and African Experience. Indiana University. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-575-0294-50.
  2. ^ a b c Allen, Tawannah G. (2023). "Moving Toward an Equitable Approach to STEM Education for Minority Males". Young, Gifted and Missing. Diversity in Higher Education. Vol. 25. pp. 163–181. doi:10.1108/S1479-364420220000025012. ISBN 978-1-80117-731-3.
  3. ^ a b "How Philip Emeagwali Lied His Way To Fame | Sahara Reporters".
  4. ^ Hamilton, Janice (2003). Nigeria in Pictures. Lerner Publishing Group. p. 70. ISBN 0822503735.
  5. ^ Braimah, Ayodale (2017-12-31). "Philip Emeagwali (1954- ) •". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  6. ^ African Americans in Science: Institutions. ABC-CLIO. 2008. ISBN 978-1851099986.
  7. ^ "Philip Emeagwali: African American Inventor". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  8. ^ "Black History- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University2020". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  9. ^ "Emeagwali's insistence on degrees muddles defence". Next. November 21, 2010. Archived from the original on October 12, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Gray, Madison. "Philip Emeagwali, A Calculating Move". Time Magazine. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Philip Emeagwali – Nigerian British Awards". Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  12. ^ "PHILIP EMEAGWALI V UNIV OF MICH BOARD OF REGENTS". Justia Law. 1999-10-29. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
  13. ^ "Dr. Phillip Emeagwali born". African American Registry. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  14. ^ "How Philip Emeagwali Lied His Way To Fame". Sahara Reporters. 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  15. ^ Contributor, Pulse (2020-08-21). "Meet the high school dropout who invented world's 1st supercomputer". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved 2022-03-06. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ Bill Clinton, Remarks to a Joint Session of the Nigerian National Assembly in Abuja, August 2000(transcript) Archived December 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ " - Chasing the Dream". Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  18. ^ cbwclondon (2010-11-09). "The Lies of Philip Emeagwali". Congress of Black Women of Canada. Archived from the original on 22 Jan 2022. Retrieved 2021-02-22.
  19. ^ "Special Report 1989 Gordon Bell Prize". IEEE. pp. 100–104, 110. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  20. ^ The reverse brain drain : Afghan-American Diaspora in post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction. University of Arizona Libraries. 2003. doi:10.2458/azu_acku_pamphlet_jz5584_a33_r494_2003.

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