Friday, October 3, 2008

Geek of the Week: GIMPS

The mathematical news of the week is that a new Mersenne prime of over 10 million digits has been found. It was found by an organization called GIMPS (The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search). It is really the collective effort of people donating spare computing power to search for primes. The hunt for large primes has been a long-time fascination of mathematicians, and recently has become important to government and commerce because of RSA public key encryption. There is no known algorithm for generating ever higher primes, so we have to keep checking numbers. This gets pretty tedious as numbers get large, but you can donate your spare computing power to help out. Just visit GIMPS and see how your computer can help.

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