GIMPS Finds a Prime! 21398269-1 is prime

By Chris Caldwell

How do you slay a giant? One way is to get a very big gun. Most of the previous record primeswere found just that way--by the super-computers of their day armed with the Lucas-Lehmer test

Another way is to get together with several hundred friends and assault the giant as a team. Recently the GIMPS(Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) project did just that! On 13 November 1996 Joel Armengauddiscovered the new Mersenne prime21398269-1. He did this by using George Woltman'sfree implementationof the Lucas-Lehmer testand by working together with over 700 other individualsscattered across the Internet. 

And what a giant they slew! This 420921 digit number (formed by multiplying two by itself 1398268 times, then subtracting one) is now the largest known prime. It is also the 35th knownMersenne prime, and so comes paired with the 35th known perfect number. There are still infinitely manymore giants left to slay, so why not surf over to Woltman's GIMPS siteand join the search for the next record prime? 

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