Recently discovered 17 million-digit number is the world's largest prime

By on February 6, 2013, 8:30 AM

A professor at the University of Central Missouri has discovered the world’s largest Mersenne prime number, shattering the previous record prime number according to officials at mersenne.org.

It’s only the 48th Mersenne prime to have ever been discovered and only the 14th discovered through the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). The last discovery using the program came in April 2009.

As Ars Technica explains, prime numbers are few and far between. Of all the numbers between 0 and 225,964,951-1, only 1,622,441 are prime and just 42 are classified as Mersenne primes. This new rarity, named after French monk Marin Mersenne who studied the numbers more than 350 years ago, is more than 17 million digits long. If written out in book form, the number would consume 28 novel-length books.

GIMPS said it took the computer that Dr. Curtis Cooper was using 39 days to verify the proof. It was also verified on a number of different computers including a 3.6 day stint on a system running CUDALucas on an Nvidia GPU, 4.5 days of crunching on an Intel i7 CPU and six days on a 32-core server running MLucas software.

This is the third record prime that Dr. Cooper and the University of Central Missouri have found. The first occurred in 2005 and again in 2006. Two years later, computers at UCLA found the most recent record prime. For his efforts, Dr. Cooper will receive a grant for $3,000.

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