Largest Prime Number Discovered is 17.4 Million Digits Long

15

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

alienplayer

"I don't know of any practical application of the fact that this number is prime. But with that being said, there are some side effects from this process we went through, this idea of taking a big problem and putting out on thousands of PCs and letting them work on the problem, and then finding something at the end."
- Curtis Cooper

So even though it has no practical use, it shows we are capable of doing large scale computation using many orders of pc power.
I believe what is more important now is the research on the nature of primes and finding efficient ways of prime factorization.

avatar

hades_2100

I would rather contribute (and I do contribute) to the FightAIDS@Home project, or some other medical distributed computing problem. But that's just me.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

Hurray! New RSA encryption half!

avatar

r3dd4wg

I'm wondering how much he got paid to do this ...

avatar

Master__shake

but where would we get our useless banter for parties and elevators?

avatar

kitsunekaji

Um, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaay........
So what's the purpose of this again? Does it enhance current encryption schemes? Further science in some significant way, or what?

avatar

anc51699

Neat discovery, but that's it. What bugs me about this is that it's a total waste of distributed computing. Distributed computing projects like Folding@Home have a meaningful purpose. The point of GIMPS just seems to be a means of trying to discover the largest prime numbers or the largest digit of Pi. If you're going to participate in a distributed computing project, at least join one that has some kind of meaningful purpose.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

Look up RSA encryption. Then feel sheepish for not knowing that numbers of a prime nature are special, which is why we've always devoted such a large amount of time to finding them.

avatar

Crackalackin

Yeah anc you're barking up the wrong tree here. If you're going to use your computing power for something besides a "meaningful" distributed computing project you're wasting your time (by posting on maximumpc, playing a video game, surfing the net, etc etc etc).

avatar

MaximumMike

This may seem like an irrelevant endeavor, but I guarantee you it's more important to practical aspects of your life than trying to figure out why Microsoft is investing billions in Dell. And if anyone ever steals your credit card data, you'll believe me. Popular encryption schemes rely on the notion that large prime numbers are comparatively easier to generate than they are to factor. And much research is being done into prime factorization which is one of the bigger problems computer scientists are trying to solve. As they get better at prime factorization, it will become easier to break some of our more complicated encryption schemes, creating the need for much larger prime numbers.

So, it goes without saying that if we can easily find larger prime numbers the time (and computational power) it takes to break these same encryption schemes will drastically increase. In the end this makes us safer... maybe.

But there are other practical applications of the research being done into finding prime numbers. Similar techniques are used for routing and search algorithms. So, understanding this kind of stuff helps Google to quickly and accurately interpret your particular dialect of your language when you speak to it and then retrieve some relative information from a rapidly expanding internet. Similar mathematical theory also helps companies like FedEx to figure out the most efficient way to route an ever increasing mass of packages to their correct destinations. And who knows what the practical applications are in bio-medical engineering, nuclear chemistry, and a bevy of other fields that bring really neat stuff into our lives every day.

So, while this may just seem like news for a bunch of nerds to snort over at their next chess tournament, it's actually something practical that while you may not need to understand it, you should appreciate it.

avatar

illusionslayer

I still don't see how you can justify spending 5 years of compute time to add one 'word' to the dictionary list of primes that attackers most likely use.

avatar

MaximumMike

Maybe because this research is far more important than the billions and billions of dollars spent making faster processors and faster graphics cards every year. Finding new ways to reduce the time it takes to solve complicated problems will help us to make new breakthroughs in technology faster, which will ultimately result in faster processors and graphics cards anyway, among many other things you may or may not be interested in. But if you don't think that breakthroughs in mathematics and science are important, why are you on this site?

avatar

DeltaFIVEengineer

Keep up the excellent posts Mike. You're always a breath of fresh air.

avatar

jgottberg

I agree with Paul. Who's to say what is meaningful and what is not? I personally don't care if a prime number can go down to 16 billion digits but at some point, it might have a practical application to someone.

avatar

Paul_Lilly

I don't have an issue with anyone who chooses to run GIMPS instead of Folding@Home, just as I don't take issue with people who primarily use their PCs for playing video games rather than something that might benefit society. Or someone who buys a motorcycle instead of donating that disposable income to charity. Why draw the line at distributed computing?

If numbers nerds (and I use that term affectionately) are into finding rare primes, go get your geek on, I say. It's all about perspective. :)

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.