Philip Emeagwali was born on 23 August, 1954 in Akure, Nigeria, an Igbo by tribe. 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. He is married to Dale Brown Emeagwali, he is a noted African-American microbiologist and computer scientist. He has been living in the United States for many years. 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.
He traveled to the United States to study under a scholarship following completion of a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He later moved to Washington DC, 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.
Emeagwali received the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer. The application used computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modeling. He won in the “price/performance” category, with a performance figure of about 400 Mflops/$1M. The winner in the “performance” category, 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. His method involved each microprocessor communicating with six neighbors. Philip’s simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.