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Dr. Jai Maharaj

Posts: 276
Registered: 1/30/06
Largest Prime Number Discovered
Posted: Feb 9, 2013 8:15 PM
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Largest Prime Number Discovered

By Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
February 5, 2013

The largest prime number yet has been discovered — and
it's 17,425,170 digits long. The new prime number crushes
the last one discovered in 2008, which was a paltry
12,978,189 digits long.

The number — 2 raised to the 57,885,161 power minus 1 —
was discovered by University of Central Missouri
mathematician Curtis Cooper as part of a giant network of
volunteer computers devoted to finding primes, similar to
projects like SETI@Home, which downloads and analyzes
radio telescope data in the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence (SETI). The network, called the Great
Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) harnesses about
360,000 processors operating at 150 trillion calculations
per second. This is the third prime number discovered by

"It's analogous to climbing Mt. Everest," said George
Woltman, the retired, Orlando, Fla.-based computer
scientist who created GIMPS. "People enjoy it for the
challenge of the discovery of finding something that's
never been known before."

In addition, the number is the 48th example of a rare
class of primes called Mersenne Primes. Mersenne primes
take the form of 2 raised to the power of a prime number
minus 1. Since they were first described by French monk
Marin Mersenne 350 years ago, only 48 of these elusive
numbers have been found, including the most recent
discovery. [The Most Massive Numbers in the Universe URL]

After the prime was discovered, it was double-checked by
several other researchers using other computers.

While the intuitive way to search for primes would be to
divide every potential candidate by ever single number
smaller than itself, that would be extremely time-
consuming, Woltman told LiveScience.

"If you were to do it that way it would take longer than
the age of the universe," he said.

Instead, mathematicians have devised a much cleverer
strategy, that dramatically reduces the time to find
primes. That method uses a formula to check much fewer

Continues at:

Largest Prime Discovered | Mathematics | LiveScience

Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti

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