Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Larger Prime Number Discovered

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Larger Prime Number Discovered

Article excerpt

Computer scientists at Silicon Graphics Inc.'s Cray Research division have discovered the world's largest known prime number.

The number is 378,632 digits long, roughly 120 single-spaced typewritten pages - and "a rare jewel," said co-discoverer Paul Gage.

But the way they found it, using supercomputers, is more than a mathematical high wire act. The techniques help create and test computer systems that in turn help solve real-world problems such as making and cracking codes, improving weather forecasts and designing safer cars. Using a Cray T94 supercomputer, David Slowinski and Gage found what is currently the biggest example of a Mersenne prime number, named for a 17th-century French monk and mathematician, Marin Mersenne. A prime number is any integer greater than one that is divisible only by itself and 1. The lowest prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7 and 11. While prime numbers are thickly sown at the foot of the ladder - there are 26 between 1 and 100 - they thin out rapidly among higher numbers. …

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