The number is far too long to have any practical use. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Jeff Golden

A computer programme in the US has succeeded in finding the largest prime number ever discovered.

Prime numbers, which are a vital part of computer encryption, are special numbers that can only be divided by either themselves or by one. Common examples include two, three, five and seven.For the last few years scientists have been running a computer programme at the University of Central Missouri in an effort to find new prime numbers larger than any that have come before.

Known as the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (Gimps), the project originally began in 2007 and has since discovered several new prime numbers with the last one being found in 2013.

Now however Dr Curtis Cooper has revealed the discovery of an entirely new prime number that is a staggering 22 million digits long and is written in mathematical notation as 2^74,207,281-1.

"The prime number, also known as M74207281, is calculated by multiplying together 74,207,281 twos then subtracting one," a Gimps spokesman said in a statement.

"It has 22,338,618 digits - almost 5 million digits longer than the previous record prime number."

Tags: Mathematics, Prime Number

Recent comments on this story

#1 Posted by pallidin on 20 January, 2016, 20:26

What is the "purpose" of a "prime number"? I don't get it's significance. Encryption mathematical science? How?

#2 Posted by JKoene on 21 January, 2016, 11:58

Well, good questions. I'll give you the answers, as soon as you find the next new prime number.

#3 Posted by RabidMongoose on 21 January, 2016, 17:11

A computer in Missouri has discovered the largest known prime number, 274,207,281- 1. It is about 22 million digits long, 5 million digits longer than the previous largest known prime, which was discovered in January 2013. Prime numbers are numbers that are divisible only by themselves and one, such as 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and 13. The search for the highest known prime is a long-established mathematical quest, of interest now more as a test of computing power rather than for any practical use of the number itself. It's a fun challenge too. http://www.theguardi...-million-digits Are tax payers happy ... [More]

#4 Posted by badeskov on 21 January, 2016, 21:37

Are tax payers happy funding this? Are tax payers funding this? Probably. How big a percentage of the funding actually went to this endeavor? Probably a very little one. Did it further parallel computing? Yes, it did. All in all, as I see, looks like a win. A small amount of resources allocated to finding something that may be irrelevant, yet furthers parallel algorithms incidentally used in other areas I find rather useful and worth the money. Cheers, Badeskov

#5 Posted by badeskov on 21 January, 2016, 21:42

What is the "purpose" of a "prime number"? I don't get it's significance. Encryption mathematical science? How? One part is encryption. Another is just the science. Cheers, Badeskov

#6 Posted by stevemagegod on 22 January, 2016, 4:29

Interesting So has this software just been running non stop to find this prime number for the last 2 years straight? I find that hard to believe to have a computer constantly running massive amounts of numbers like this for over a year without having tech problems.

#7 Posted by Silver Surfer on 24 January, 2016, 9:14

#8 Posted by Silver Surfer on 24 January, 2016, 9:26

Interesting So has this software just been running non stop to find this prime number for the last 2 years straight? I find that hard to believe to have a computer constantly running massive amounts of numbers like this for over a year without having tech problems. Redundancy would have been the first thing they thought about. We are far past a 'single computer' failing.

On the forums

Forum posts:

Forum topics:

Members:

Forum topics:

Members:

5989353

257798

169530

257798

169530

Spirituality, Religion and Beliefs

September 23 2017 and revelations

"Days of Awe"

Spirituality vs Skepticism

Mark of the Beast

How to explain existence of God from reality

Ancient Mysteries & Alternative History

James Cameron finds 'evidence of Atlantis'

Ruins seen or found on Google Earth

US Politics

"Bad" BLM Condemns "Good" BLM

President Trump Speech at 72nd U.N. assembly

Space News - Exploration and Spaceflight

A lunar orbiter’s final resting place

100 people could live on the Moon by 2040

Trending news stories

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

1 month

Other news in this category

Will robots take over all our jobs ?

Posted 9-23-2017 | 1 comment

As computers become increasingly sophisticated, will there be any jobs left for us ?

Posted 9-23-2017 | 1 comment

As computers become increasingly sophisticated, will there be any jobs left for us ?

Exploring Antarctica's hidden depths

Posted 9-22-2017 | 0 comments

Scientists investigate some of the wildlife hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

Posted 9-22-2017 | 0 comments

Scientists investigate some of the wildlife hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

Science-fiction spacesuits

Posted 9-21-2017 | 0 comments

Adam Savage investigates a number of intricately detailed spacesuits used in movies.

View: More videos
Posted 9-21-2017 | 0 comments

Adam Savage investigates a number of intricately detailed spacesuits used in movies.

Stories & Experiences