Philip Emeagwali: Biography, Career, and Achievements

“But I think every one of us has the power to be a genius. I was not born a genius; it was nurtured in me by my father. People later called me a mathematical genius, but you would be a genius, too, if you had to do 100 math problems in an hour,” he said.

Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian computer scientist who just joined the list of top 10 most intelligent people of the world and is high in the list of the top seven Nigerian inventors and inventions. He is alleged to have an IQ Of 190. He won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize ($1,000) for price-performance in high-performance computing applications, in an oil reservoir modeling calculation using a novel mathematical formulation and implementation.


Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 1954. His early schooling was suspended in 1967 as a result of the Nigerian Civil War. At 13 years, he served in the Biafran army. After the war, he completed high-school equivalence through self-study. Growing up in a country torn by civil war, Emeagwali lived in a building crumbled by rocket shells. He believed his intellect was a way out of the line of fire. So he studied hard and eventually received a scholarship to Oregon State University when he was 17 where he obtained a BS in mathematics. He also earned three other degrees – a Ph.D. in Scientific computing from the University of Michigan and two Masters degrees from George Washington University. He is married to Dale Brown Emeagwali, a noted African-American microbiologist.


The noted black inventor received acclaim based, at least in part, on his study of nature, specifically bees. Emeagwali saw an inherent efficiency in the way bees construct and work with honeycomb and determined computers that emulate this process could be the most efficient and powerful. In 1989, emulating the bees’ honeycomb construction, Emeagwali used 65,000 processors to invent the world’s fastest computer, which performs computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second.

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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. He 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.


Philip Emeagwali ranked as:

  • Smarter Than Einstein
  • The Second Greatest Genius in Mathematics
  • The Third Greatest Genius Alive
  • Voted “Father of the Modern Computer
  • Meet the Top TenGreatest Computer Scientists
  • Ranked First by Google for “contribution to the development of the computer
  • 23 Geniuses With Photographic Memory
  • Nine Refugees That Made a Difference
  • Top Five Nigerian Role Models
  • The 7 Most Respected Nigerians
  • Top 10 Igbo Legends That Have Put The Tribe Well High On The Map
  • Twenty Most Influential Nigerians
  • Voted the Greatest Scientist of African Descent Ever
  • Voted the 35th Greatest Person of African Descent (pdf, HTML)
  • Top 70 Greatest Black Achievers.
  • Eleven Wildly Successful People
  • Top 65 African Icons That Ever Lived
  • Famous Black People Who Changed the World
  • 100 Persons That Changed the World

Author: BF

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