A quite long prime

Mathematicians at UCLA have verified now the largest known prime number, 13 million digits long!

It's a Mersenne prime, in the form 2p − 1. This new prime is 243,112,609 − 1. (And no, you can't put it in your calculator and get an answer... )

Read the news story

This kind of prime hunting requires a network of computers running together to do the massive amounts of calculations.

Comments

Beckie R said…
For those who wonder why finding prime numbers is so important, there are two reasons. Firstly, it's a great computing exercise that has lead to efficiencies of hardware and software design that might otherwise never have been created. Secondly, prime numbers are the basis of the encryption system used to transmit financial and other secure data over computer networks, including the Internet. In finding prime numbers, mathematicians are trying to determine if there is a generalized shortcut method of determining if a number is prime or not.

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