From: toyin adepoju [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 7:35 AM To: Karp, Alan Subject: ENQUIRY ON PHILIP EMEAGWALI,WINNER OF THE 1989 GORDON BELL PRIZE
Dear Alan Karp,
I hope this meets you well.
This email is an enquiry relating to Philip Emeagwali, one of the Winners of the Gordon Bell Prize of 1989 of which you were one of the judges.
There has been significant confusion in various publications as to the scope of the achievements of Philip Emeagwali,particularly in terms of the character of his achievement that won him the Gordon Bell Prize, leading various people and bodies to seek clarification.As far as I know,your views as a scientist and a judge of that prize are yet to be sought on this subject
It would be most helpful if you could clarify the following issues dealing with the facts of this matter:
1.The copy of a report on the prize described as written by you and the other judges( found on the Wikipedia article onEmeawagwali and attached to this mail) described Emeagwali as using the Connection Machine or CM-2 in the work that won him the prize.It is claimed in other publications that he programmed this computer remotely.Do you know if this is correct?
Not specifically, but remote use of supercomputers, while harder than it would be today, was not all that rare at that time.
2.Are you aware if he played any role in the development of the CM-2 or of supercomputing generally?
3.Are you aware of any effect his work with the CM-2 has made to the development of the Internet?
4.Are you aware of any contributions made by Emeagwali's work to the oil and information technology industries?
No, although it wouldn’t surprise me if the algorithm he used in his Gordon Bell Prize work was adopted by the industry.
It would also be helpful if you could express an opinion on the following question which is less one of fact but of judgement on the subject:
It is puzzling that in spite of Emeagwali's achievement in winning the Gordon Bell Prize,there is hardly any reference to his work in scientific or industry literature.Could you suggest any opinion as to why that is the case?
The Gordon Bell Prize rewards superior performance or price/performance. Being cited by others in some area is a reflection of the importance to the field. These two metrics are orthogonal, so it’s not surprising when a problem submitted for the Gordon Bell Prize is not considered important by application experts.
Emeagwali’s Gordon Bell Prize submission was quite impressive, especially in comparison to other submissions presenting work of teams of computer scientists and application specialists. It would not have surprised me to see him continue his career in reservoir modeling, numerical methods, or computer architecture. To the best of my knowledge, he never published work in any of these areas. It’s hard to be cited without refereed publications.
Thank you very much
PhD candidate,Comparative Literature Programme,University College,London.