A group of science mathematicians at UCLA have discovered the largest prime number. The recent discovery makes them eligible for a $100,000 grand prize. It will mark the eighth Mersenne prime discovered at UCLA.
A group of science mathematicians at UCLA found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.
"We're delighted," said UCLA's Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. "Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds."
Primes are numbers like three, seven and 11 that are divisible by only two whole positive numbers: themselves and one.
Mersenne primes are expressed as 2P-1, or two to the power of "P" minus one. P is itself a prime number. For the new prime, P is 43,112,609.
Thousands of people around the world have been participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, a cooperative system in which underused computing power is harnessed to perform the calculations needed to find and verify Mersenne primes.
The $100,000 prize is being offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for finding the first Mersenne prime with more than 10 million digits. The foundation supports individual rights on the Internet and set up the prime number prize to promote cooperative computing using the Web.