Inventing the World’s Fastest Supercomputer | Philip Emeagwali | Greatest Computer Programmers

Inventing the World’s Fastest Supercomputer | Philip Emeagwali | Greatest Computer Programmers


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] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m Philip Emeagwali. The computer is the greatest invention, since
fire. The modern supercomputer
is the greatest invention in modern physics.
I believe that we are witnessing a technological change
of tectonic proportion. Each generation redefined the word “computer.”
Our descendants’ definition of the computer
will perhaps become synonymous and correspond to our phrase
“planetary-sized super-brain that enshrouds our Earth.”
In Year Million, I foresee each post-human person
as a super-intelligent cyborg that is part human, part machine,
and part computer and that has a great sense of humor.
I foresee their super-brains as enshrouding even the Solar System and as
one super being that can live forever. When parallel supercomputing
meets the biggest questions in computational science,
the impossible-to-solve becomes possible-to-solve. Parallel supercomputing
is the vital technology that enables us to ask
the biggest questions and then find new answers
to those previously unanswered questions. I’m Philip Emeagwali.
Back on February 1, 1922, a science-fiction story was published
in the book titled: “Weather Prediction by Numerical Process.”
That science-fiction story described how, in theory,
64,000 human computers could be employed and used to solve the
partial differential equations that must be used
to predict the weather for the whole Earth.
Back on June 20, 1974, in Corvallis, Oregon, United States,
the day I began programming supercomputers, I set my mind on programming
the fastest supercomputer. A decade later,
my supercomputer-hopeful became a new internet
that is a new global network of 64 binary thousand processors.
On July 4, 1989, I figured out how to hindcast the weather
and do so one mile deep inside an oilfield
that is the size of a town. That massively parallel supercomputer
that is a new internet de facto that I set my mind on
ultimately became my signature invention
that became the subject of school reports.
My contribution to the development of the computer
is this: I was the first person to figure out
how to turn the science fiction of parallel processing across
millions of processors into the non-fiction
that is today’s supercomputer that occupies the space of a soccer field.
The reason I remember the date I discovered
practical parallel supercomputing was that it was the U.S.
Independence Day. [The First Supercomputer Scientist] You cannot study to become
the first parallel supercomputer scientist. You can study to become
an aerospace engineer. But you cannot study
to become the first astronaut or to travel to the planet Mars.
You become a pioneer astronaut by becoming the first person
to travel to Mars. Similarly, you cannot study
to become the first person to figure out how to harness
practical parallel supercomputing and do so to solve real-world problems.
I’m Philip Emeagwali. I became the first parallel supercomputer
scientist because I was the first person
that performed the world’s fastest parallel processed calculations
that solved real-world problems and because I was the only person
to accomplish that alone, as opposed to team research. [What is the World’s Fastest Computer?] What is the world’s fastest computer?
Speed is the core essence of the supercomputer.
The first newspaper article on the supercomputer
was dated February 15, 1946 and appeared on page one
of The New York Times. That first newspaper article was titled:
[quote] “Electronic Computer Flashes Answers, May
Speed Engineering.” [unquote]
Airplanes fly at about the same speed they flew in the 1950s.
If today’s parallel supercomputer speed of a thousand million billion calculations
per second was discovered in the 1950s
that decade’s supercomputer could compute three million billion
times faster. That first supercomputer of 1946
could only perform 385 multiplications per second
or 40 divisions per second or three square root calculations
per second. That first supercomputer
was about one thousand times faster than
the fastest computing aid of the time.
That supercomputer speed increase from 1946 to present
is like an airplane completing a 30,000 year-long trip
to a distant galaxy in just one day. The car of today has one engine
and four tires just as it had a century ago.
By comparison, the fastest supercomputer of today
has 10.65 million processors, or 10.65 million electronic brains, instead
of the one electronic brain that it had in mid-1989.
The progress achieved in supercomputer technology
is akin to completing in one day an intergalactic outer space travel
that might have taken three hundred centuries
if the same trip started in 1989. [Wild applause and cheering for 17 seconds] Insightful and brilliant lecture

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