Another prime number down, infinity to go

There are 17 million digits in the largest prime number we know of, so far. Its discovery is part of an ongoing distributed computing project aimed at exposing the existence of ever larger prime numbers, largely because prime numbers are there — flagrantly going around, only being divisible by themselves and the number 1. We'll show them, won't we? The Electronic Frontier Foundation foundation, for instance, is currently offering a $150,000 bounty for the first folks to bring in a 100-million-digit prime.


  1. New rule: it should be against the law, and you spend time thinking about it in the Hague, to calculate any large prime without knowing all the primes that come before it.  You cannot skip ahead.

    1. With a measly 18 or 19 digits.


      “Perhaps the longest lists ever calculated (but not all stored) are those corresponding to the maximal prime gap (and twin prime constant) projects.  See Nicely’s lists. At the time I last updated this page, these projects had found (but not stored) all the prime up to 10^18, but not yet to 10^19.”

  2. I love the EFF. But what reason could they possibly have for offering money for a new prime number?   Shouldn’t they be using that dough to fight the good copyfight?

      1. Mersenne primes aren’t particularly useful for cryptography.  There aren’t very many of them, and they’ve got special forms which make them easy to find but might interfere with cryptographic use.  On the other hand, they’re a good problem to use for developing tools for large distributed computations, and potentially more practical than looking for Space Aliens.

    1. It’s a matter of collateral benefit, I think. Calculating a 100 million digit prime would require a breakthrough in computing power, algorithm design or mathematical theory, all of which would most probably find some good wider use. See also: indirect benefits of space race.

  3. Whenever someone tells me to “pick a number, any number”, I just start rattling off digit until they get bored/aggravated and usually ask me to stop.

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