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September 2009 LSAT
According to the passage, which one of the following is true?
on August 14 at 04:41AM
Can you please explain?
on June 21 at 11:06PM
Yes could someone please explain this answer?
on June 22 at 12:37AM
Hi @Jaimee-Salgado and @heidiz,
There's a lot of information here. Let's start by going through the passage.
The first paragraph introduces Nigerian-born computer scientist Philip Emeagwali and tells us that the success that he has had in designing computers that solve real-world problems stems from his willingness to think outside the box and draw inspiration from nature. In the 1980s, Emeagwali was successful in designing parallel computer systems. These systems are, in some cases, superior to single computers as they can process calculations simultaneously as opposed to sequentially. In 1989, Emeagwali "pioneered the use" of using a parallel computer system to solve one of the most computationally difficult problem which had, until then, be impossible to accurately model: "predicting the flow of oil through the subterranean geologic formations that make up oil fields."
The second paragraph outlines the complexities of modelling oil field flow and Emeagwali's success in this area. The reason that modelling oil field flow is so complex is that a computer must simulate the distribution of oil at tens of thousands of locations and, at each location, simultaneously and regularly calculate variables such as temperature and viscosity as well as geologic properties. To solve this, Emeagwali connected more than 65,000 computers in a parallel computer system. Emeagwali also overcame an inherent difficulty of parallel computing - dividing the tasks so that they do not interfere with one another - by drawing inspiration from tree branching patterns which maximize the amount of sunlight gathered and the quantity of water and sap delivered. This pattern allowed for the most efficient calculation and modelling of oil field flow as well as other similar phenomena.
The third and final paragraph tells us that, in 1996, Emeagwali presented a design for a parallel computer which he claimed would be "powerful enough to predict global weather patterns a century in advance." This computer's design is based on the geometry of honeycombs which efficiently utilize three-dimensional space. Emeagwali suggested that computer scientists will increasingly look to nature to solve problems and that this will allow us to both better understand natural systems and facilitate the evolution of human technology.
The question stem asks us to select the answer choice which, according to the passage, is true.
A is incorrect because there is nothing in the passage to suggest that parallel computer systems are making single computers, which work sequentially, obsolete. There are plenty of uses for single computers and many problems to solve which do not require the massive capacity of parallel computer systems.
B is incorrect because the passage does not provide us with any information regarding why Emeagwali initially addressed the problem of modelling oil field flow. It simply tells us what he did and how he did it.
D is incorrect because the passage does not discuss any other computer scientists aside from Emeagwali. While it could be true that he was the first to use nature as a model for human technology, it is equally possible that it could be false.
E is incorrect for the same reason that D is incorrect. We don't know anything about parallel processing aside from Emeagwali's work.
C is the correct answer as evidenced by lines 11 to 17:
"In 1989, Emeagwali pioneered the use of massively parallel computers that used a network of thousands of smaller computers to solve what is considered one of the most computationally difficult problems: predicting the flow of oil through the subterranean geologic formations that make up oil fields."
The key word here is 'pioneered,' as it indicates that Emeagwali was the first to use massively parallel computer systems to predict the flow of oil through oil fields.
Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.
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