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New Largest Known Prime Number Is 23 Million Digits Long

New Largest Known Prime Number Is 23 Million Digits Long
The new largest known prime number is 23 million digits long. (Alphaspirit/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 05 January 2018 03:29 PM

A prime number newly discovered by a FedEx employee is now the largest known of its kind, containing 23 million digits.

The number was discovered by Jonathan Pace of Tennessee, who used a regular computer with an Intel Core i5-6600 processor to discover the number, Gizmodo reported. The number is almost a million digits longer than the previous largest-known prime number, and it took Pace, an electrical engineer and math enthusiast, and the computer six days to calculate.

Prime numbers are those that can only be divided by 1 and themselves, such as 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13. The new largest prime number, called M77232917, was discovered Dec. 26, 2017, Gizmodo reported.

Pace’s number is the 50th known Mersenne prime.

Pace was participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) when he discovered the number by a process of looking at numbers that are one less than a power of 2.  He has volunteered on the GIMPS project for 14 years, according to CNBC.

The number is said to stretch over 73 miles at five digits to an inch, nearly three miles longer than the previous record-holder, Gizmodo reported. 

According to University of Tennessee at Martin mathematics and statistics professor Chris Caldwell, Mersenne primes are very rare and take a long time to discover, CNBC reported. 

Mathematicians don’t fully understand the patterns Mersenne primes follow, so they seem to be sporadic and random in nature, Caldwell said, CNBC reported. Project researchers had not expected to find another Mersenne prime this close to the last one. 

“In the long run, we hope to use these data to predict how often these occur,” Caldwell said.

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A FedEx employee has discovered the largest known prime number, which is 23 million digits long.
largest, known, prime, number
Friday, 05 January 2018 03:29 PM
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