Visualising the number of digits in the largest known prime number

Cool!

The largest known prime number is M57885161, which has 17,425,170 digits and was first discovered in 2013.

Visualising 17,425,170 digits.

largest prime known

largest prime known

Click here for the deep zoom into the digits of the largest prime

THE PRIME CHALLENGE:

The biggest prime number ever discovered is 17 million decimal digits long. Its predecessor, discovered in 2008 was 12 million digits long. Those are huge numbers, but there is also a huge gap between them.

In order to be efficient, the algorithms that have been developed to discover large primes will often leave large areas of unexplored territory in the number-space behind them: the “lost primes”.

We’re challenging you to use cloud computing to find one of those lost primes, and help to increase mathematical knowledge.

Most of the big prime discoveries have used many hundreds of thousands of computers over many years – it takes a lot of computing power to calculate a number that is 17 million digits long. This type of computing power was previously out of reach for casual observers. But cloud computing has changed that and we now all have access to a huge amount of computing power.

This challenge gives everyone the chance to discover new prime number by using cloud computing. We really aren’t expecting to get anywhere near close to the largestrimes ever discovered, but we do expect to find many of the lost primes. The challenge will also highlight which architectures and configurations of cloud computing resources work best for this kind of task.

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