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sábado, septiembre 27, 2008

The New Very Big Prime Number

I've talked before about prime numbers. I love prime numbers. They make me crazy. And today, AP is reporting that at UCLA a team has found a 13 million digit prime number. This is absolutely mind boggling and crazy making. It is truly a gigantic number.

AP reports:
Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13-million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize.

The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.

"We're delighted," said UCLA's Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. "Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds"....

Mersenne primes — named for their discoverer, 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne — are expressed as 2P-1, or two to the power of "P" minus one. P is itself a prime number. For the new prime, P is 43,112,609.

Got that? 243,112,609 - 1 is a 13 million digit prime. And of all things 43,112,609 is a prime. And that's all been confirmed. One assumes that the computers are now fiddling with 43,112,611 and 43,112,613 and so on. Who knows how far out they have to go before they find another prime that works, which will be the 47th Mersenne Prime.

And to think that you only need 75 computers to duplicate this.

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