London: The computer of Dr. Curtis Cooper at the University of Central Missouri has made a rare mathematical discovery — the world’s largest known prime number, 257,885,161 – 1.
The integer is more than 17 million digits long, so if you wanted a hard copy to hang on your wall or something it would take more than 13,000 pages of A4 paper. The size of the find crushes the 2009 discovery of 243,112,609 – 1, which fell just shy of the 13-million-digit mark.
Cooper’s find is part of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) —a distributed computing project that hunts down Mersenne primes. The numbers take the form 2p – 1, where p is also a prime number, although not all numbers that have the form are prime — hence the years of non-stop computation between discoveries.
The GIMPS harnesses about 360,000 processors operating at 150 trillion calculations per second. This is the third prime number discovered by Cooper.