Philip Emeagwali | The Internet of the Future Will Be a Planetary-Sized Supercomputer


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] [The Contributions of Philip Emeagwali to
Physics] The roots of the story
of how the fastest supercomputer was invented
began several millennia ago, and began when our ancestors
had no computing aid. For millennia, our ancestors
used their fingers and toes as their computing aids
and had no mathematical symbols scribbled on their cave walls. For the last one hundred years,
the word “computer” was prefaced as human computer, analog computer, electronic computer,
digital computer, distributed computer, parallel computer, and super computer. A change in how we look at the computer was
accompanied by renaming the computer. The paradigm shift in supercomputing manifested
itself as a change in the name of the technology,
such as changing from sequential processing
that began with computing aids, such as the abacus
that was invented 3,000 years ago, to the parallel supercomputer
that became the world’s fastest computer when I discovered it
on the Fourth of July 1989. Over the centuries,
we changed the ways we counted. We from
the Table of Logarithms to a mechanical calculator
to automatic computers that used vacuum tubes. And then our computing paradigm shifted to
transistors embedded in integrated circuits. [Philip Emeagwali Speedup From 180 Years to
One Day] On the Fourth of July 1989,
I figured out how to record an increase
in computing speeds and do so across a new internet
that is a new global network of 64 binary thousand
tightly-coupled processors that were simultaneously solving
the Grand Challenge Problem that I chopped up
into 64 binary thousand problems. That invention,
called parallel processing, triggered a paradigm shift
in how computers are designed and defined. That invention changed the way
we look at the computer. The new computer
changed from computing only one thing at a time
to computing many things at once. In 1989, I was in the news because
I figured out how the new computer can solve in one day
a grand challenge problem that the old computer
needed 180 years, or 65,536 days, to solve. It’s impossible to fully describe
how I felt the moment I experimentally discovered
parallel processing. At a visceral and intellectual level,
I felt like I was a part of human progress
that was bigger than myself. My discovery
of practical parallel processing felt like I caught a fish
that was bigger than myself. My discovery of parallel processing
was computing’s equivalence of reaching the top of Mount Everest
and being the first person to reach that summit. My invention
is the subject of school reports because it is a contribution
to the development of the computer. That invention
redefined the word “computer.” In the new definition
for the twenty-first century, the computer is a machinery
that is powered by an ensemble of up to millions upon millions of processors,
with each processor akin to a tiny computer
that shared nothing. I believe that our children’s children
could parallel process across their Internet
and do so to upgrade their 22nd century’s Internet
to that century’s supercomputer that should be
a planetary-sized supercomputer. I invented a new internet
that I theorized as the granite core of a new supercomputer. In 1989,
I was in the news headlines because I figured out how to reduce
180 years of time-to-solution on one computer
that was powered by only one processor to only one day of time-to-solution
on a supercomputer that was powered by 64 binary thousand processors. My contributions to geology, mathematical
physics, and supercomputing
is this: I figured out how to compute faster
and do so to discover and recover otherwise elusive crude oil
and natural gas. [A Supercomputer Frontier Without a Map] Back in the 1980s,
practical parallel processing was an uncharted territory
of human knowledge and a new frontier without a map. The marriage of
partial differential equations and massively parallel processing
was pretty abstract to grasp but amazingly powerful. In weather forecasting,
solving the difficult-to-calculate primitive equations of meteorology
tells the weather forecaster tomorrow’s forecast. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s,
to parallel process across an internet
was the most complicated concept and the hardest area
of computational mathematics. If you’re the first person
to parallel process and to solve the toughest math problems, you
will be ranked as the world’s smartest person. Back in the 1980s,
25,000 vector processing supercomputer scientists avoided
this grand challenge problem and did so because
it was ridiculously difficult to solve. The precursor
to the grand challenge problem that I solved on July 4, 1989
was first posed in a science fiction story that was published on February 1, 1922. My contribution to physics was that,
on the Fourth of July 1989, I discovered
how to turn that science fiction, called parallel processing,
that then 66-year-old Albert Einstein presumably read about in the January 11, 1946 issue
of the New York Times and how to turn that science fiction
into a non-fiction that is the vital technology
that makes the supercomputer super. That grand challenge problem
that was at the crossroad where mathematics, physics,
and supercomputing met remained unsolved
for the sixty-seven years onward of 1922. That grand challenge problem
was unsolved until I solved it on the Fourth of July 1989. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture