Largest Prime Now Has Over 23 Million Digits |

Written by Mike James |

Sunday, 07 January 2018 |

The newly discovered prime is 2 Primes are very simple to define - they are numbers that have no factors, i.e. you can't find a smaller number that divides into them without a remainder. All non-primes can be written as the product of nothing but primes. This makes primes something like the atoms of numbers from which every other number can be derived. The first surprise is that there are a lot of primes - an infinity to be precise - and they aren't even rare in any given range. If you go looking for primes you are sure to fall over a few thousand without even trying hard. So what is the fuss about finding a new prime? There are two answers. The first is that it is the largest prime of a particularly interesting type and secondly it is the largest prime of any type we know of. The number in question is 2
It is an example of a Mersenne prime which are all of the form 2 The sequence for p that give primes is 2,3,5,7,13,17,19,31... They become fewer as we go on and with the addition of M77232917 we now have just 50 Mersenne primes. We don't even know if the Mersenne primes go on forever or stop - which means M77232917 could be the last of the Mersenne primes. The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, more commonly referred to as GIMPS, has organized the search since 1996 and has found the last 16 Mersenne primes. You can download a program to help you search for the next prime and there is even a small reward if you are the lucky one. The press release about the recent find reports:
But be warned, he almost certainly used more electricity over the 14 years than the prize money could pay for.
Why compute such huge primes? The only reasonable answer is the mountain-climber riposte: because it's there. There are no practical uses for Mersenne primes or primes of such size. They are too big for cryptography and most of the work in number theory about them doesn't require actual examples of numeric values. Perhaps one day someone will find a use but somehow I doubt it - but I'd be happy to be wrong.
## More InformationGIMPS Project Discovers Largest Known Prime Number: 2 ## Related ArticlesLargest Mersenne Prime Discovered - 49th Prime Numbers And Primality Testing 48th Mersenne Prime Discovered Reaching The Unreachable - Pi Squared And Catalan's Constant 5 Trillion Digits of Pi - New world record Yahoo! Gets to the 2 Quadrillionth bit of Pi - it's zero 60 trillionth binary digit of pi-squared calculated To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.
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Last Updated ( Saturday, 29 December 2018 ) |