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04 Jan 2006 11:30
Researchers at a Missouri university have identified the largest known prime number, officials said.
The team at Central Missouri State University, led by associate dean Steven Boone and mathematics professor Curtis Cooper, found it in mid-December after programming 700 computers years ago.
A prime number is a positive number divisible by only itself and 1—2, 3, 5, 7 and so on.
The number that the team found is 9,1-million digits long. It is a Mersenne prime known as M30402457—that’s 2 to the 30 402 457th power minus 1.
Mersenne primes are a special category expressed as 2 to the “p” power minus 1, in which “p” also is a prime number.
“We’re super excited,” Boone, a chemistry professor, said on Tuesday.
“We’ve been looking for such a number for a long time.”
The discovery is affiliated with the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, a global contest using volunteers who run software that searches for the largest Mersenne prime.
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