Science & Technology
New prime number is 22 million digits long
January 20, 2016 | 8 comments
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."
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