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February 6, 2013

Record size 17.4 million-digit prime found

Record size 17.4 million-digit prime found

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Curtis Cooper, a mathematician and computer science professor at the University of Central Missouri, has discovered the largest known prime number to date on January 25. Several people verified the discovery using different hardware and software by the beginning of February and it was announced on Tuesday. Cooper found the prime as a participant in the distributed computing project known as the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS. Cooper runs the GIMPS client, called Prime95, on an estimated 1,000 computers at the university.

Curtis Cooper.

The number was first reported to the GIMPS server on January 25 from a university computer which had been running 39 days non-stop. However as for any Mersenne prime candidates, the discovery was announced after several people have verified the number using different hardware and software. The three independent verifications took from three to seven days of computation on powerful hardware.

A prime number is a positive integer greater than 1 that can only be evenly divided by 1 and itself. The first few prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 and 19. 77 (for example) is not prime because it is a product of 7 and 11. The newly discovered prime is expressed as 257,885,161 − 1 and has 17,425,170 digits. It is a specific type of prime number called a Mersenne prime, which are of the form 2p − 1. The exponent p must be prime for the number to be prime. As of February 2013, there are only 48 known Mersenne primes.

George Woltman developed and founded GIMPS, the longest known continuously running computer project, in 1996. Cooper as a participant had previously discovered two other Mersenne primes, 230,402,457 − 1 in December 2005 and 232,582,657 − 1 in September 2006, with fellow professor Steven Boone. This latest discovery ends an intermission of almost four years; the previous Mersenne prime was found in April 2009.



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September 11, 2006

CMSU computing team discovers another record size prime

CMSU computing team discovers another record size prime

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Less than a year after the discovery of a record size prime number, the same team from the Central Missouri State University discovered yet another record holder on September 4, 2006. The primality of this number was verified on September 11, 2006. The team were participants of an online project called Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

The number is 232,582,657 − 1, extending out to an astonshing 9,808,358 decimal digits. These rare prime numbers are known as Mersenne primes. So far, only 44 of these are known.

Although the number is just shy of the 10 million digits required for the $100,000 prize offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, participants are always looking forward to new primes.

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December 30, 2005

Distributed computing discovers largest known prime number

Distributed computing discovers largest known prime number

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Friday, December 30, 2005

On December 15, 2005, a computing effort of the Central Missouri State University (CMSU), led by Curtis Cooper and Steven Boone, as part of the distributed computing project known as the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), discovered the largest known prime number, divisible only by the number 1 and itself: 230,402,457-1.

The discovery, which marks the 43rd known Mersenne prime and the 9th discovered by GIMPS, was made by running a free downloadable program called Prime95. The CMSU team is currently the highest-ranked contributor to GIMPS with over 700 computers running Prime95.

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