[Fwd: [IP] Largest prime number ever is found]

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Wed Dec 3 18:46:13 PST 2003

I thought someone had already found the largest known prime number.

Maybe last time it was a false alarm.

- Joe

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[IP] Largest prime number ever is found
Date: 	Wed, 03 Dec 2003 12:40:41 -0500
From: 	Dave Farber <dave at farber.net>
Reply-To: 	dave at farber.net
To: 	ip at v2.listbox.com

Delivered-To: dfarber+ at ux13.sp.cs.cmu.edu
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 01:41:07 -0800
From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne at warpspeed.com>

[Note:  This item comes from reader Mike Cheponis.  DLH]

At 12:12 -0800 12/2/03, Mike Cheponis wrote:
>Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 12:12:27 -0800 (PST)
>From: Mike Cheponis <mac at wireless.com>
>Subject: Largest prime found
>                         Largest prime number ever is found
>15:11 02 December 03
>NewScientist.com news service
>A 26-year-old graduate student in the US has made mathematical history by 
>discovering the largest known prime number.
>The new number is 6,320,430 digits long. It took just over two years to 
>find using a distributed network of more than 200,000 computers.
>Michael Shafer a chemical engineering student at Michigan State University 
>used his office computer to contribute spare processing power to the Great 
>Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). The project has more than 60,000 
>volunteers from all over the world taking part.
>"I had just finished a meeting with my advisor when I saw the computer had 
>found the new prime," Shafer says. "After a short victory dance, I called 
>up my wife and friends involved with GIMPS to share the great news."
>Prime numbers are positive integers that can only be divided by themselves 
>and one. Mersenne primes are an especially rare type of prime that take 
>the form 2 p-1, where p is also a prime number. The new number can be 
>represented as 220,996,011-1. It is only the 40th Mersenne prime to have 
>ever been found.
>Building blocks
>Mersenne primes were first discussed by Euclid in 350 BC and have been 
>central to the branch of mathematics known as number theory ever since. 
>They are named after a 17th century French monk who first came up with an 
>important conjecture about which values of p would yield a prime.
>Primes are the building blocks of all positive numbers. They have 
>practical uses too, for example by providing a way of exchanging the 
>cryptographic keys that keep internet communications secure from 
>eavesdropping. However, despite their significance, mathematicians do not 
>understand the way prime numbers are distributed making it very difficult 
>to identify new primes.
>Marcus du Sautoy, a mathematician at Oxford University and author of The 
>Music of the Primes, says the discovery is unlikely to add much to our 
>understanding of the way primes are distributed but is still significant.
>"It's a really good measure of what our computational capabilities are," 
>he told New Scientist. "It's a really fun project. Everyone gets a 
>different bit of the number universe to look at. It's a bit like the lottery."
>The GIMPS project uses a central computer server and free software to 
>coordinate the activity of all its contributors. Contributing machines are 
>each allocated different prime number candidates to test.
>Some people contribute to GIMPS out of mathematical curiosity or to test 
>their computer hardware, while others just hope to go down in history as 
>the discoverer of a massive prime. There is also a financial incentive 
>with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit US group, offering a 
>$100,000 prize for the discovery of the first prime with 10 million digits.
>Shafer's discovery was made on 17 November but it was not independently 
>verified until now. "It's humbling to see so many people of varied lands, 
>ages and vocations volunteering for this fun and amazing project," says 
>Scott Kurowski, whose company Entropia manages the GIMPS server.
>"There are more primes out there," adds George Woltman, who started the 
>GIMPS project in 1996. "And anyone with an internet-connected computer can 
>Will Knight     http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994438

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