Largest prime number to date found

Feb. 6, 2013 at 3:22 PM

WARRENSBURG, Mo., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Thousands of volunteers, and their computers, have determined the largest prime number found to date -- a 17 million digit number -- a U.S. researcher says.

University of Central Missouri Professor Curtis Cooper, who heads the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, announced the find, CNET reported Wednesday.

A prime number is divisible only by itself and the number 1. Mersenne primes are named after a French monk born in 1588 who described a particular class of prime number, 2 to the power of "p" minus one, in which "p" is an ordinary prime number.

The newly discovered prime is 2 to the power of 57,885,161 minus 1 and is 17,425,170 digits long.

It's the 48th Mersenne prime so far discovered. The GIMPS project has found the 14 largest Mersenne primes.

A $3,000 prize has been awarded to Cooper for the discovery, but prime number hunting could get more lucrative in the future -- the Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced a $150,000 award for the discoverer of the first prime number of 100 million digits or more.

Cooper and his prime-hunting network of volunteers and their computers previously found record primes in 2005 and 2006.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Breast cancer drug helps immune response against MRSA
Study: Vines strangle tropical trees' carbon storage abilities
Study: Dissolvable stent as good as conventional version
8 things you didn't know about baby gorillas
Study: Elephants rarely get cancer