Orlando (FL) - Breaking its own record for determining the largest known prime number, a team at Central Missouri State University (CMSU) has announced that it has confirmed the newest prime number, which ranks in at over 9.8 million digits long.
The new prime number, scientifically calculated as 2^32,582,657 - 1, is referenced as M32582657. It has a total of 9,808,358 digits. When reaching enormous numbers like this, it becomes exponentially difficult to find numbers that are perfectly prime. The previously discovered prime number, which was announced in December of last year, had only 9,152,052 digits.
The CMSU faculty team are part of a team known as the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), along with tens of thousands of other researchers. Named after a French monk from over 350 years ago who studied prime numbers, the new number is the 44th in the special "Mersenne primes" class of prime numbers.
An anonymous donor has offered $100,000 to the first person or university who can find a prime number that has over 10 million digits, with $25,000 of that earmarked as a charity donation. The new number comes very close, and because of its recent discovery, it means that it will still likely take several months before the $100,000 prize is awarded.
The new prime number becomes the tenth to be discovered since the creation of the GIMPS program. Since then, over 700 campuses have joined the team with over 70,000 networked computers crunching numbers ar a rate of 22 trillion calculations per second. The new number would have taken 4000 years to calculate on a single computer.