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$2^{77,232,917}-1$ is the new $2^{74,207,281}-1$

We now know 50 Mersenne primes! The latest indivisible mammoth, $2^{77,232,917}-1$, was discovered by Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search user Jonathan Pace on the 26th of December 2017. As well as being the biggest Mersenne prime ever known, it’s also the biggest prime of any sort discovered to date.

GIMPS works by distributing the job of checking candidate numbers for primality to computers running the software around the world. It took over six days of computing to prove that this number is prime, which has since been verified on four other systems.

Pace, a 51-year old Electrical Engineer from Tennessee, has been running the GIMPS software to look for primes for over 14 years, and has been rewarded with a \$3,000 prize. When a prime with over 100 million digits is found, the discoverer will earn a \$50,000 prize. That probably won’t be for quite a while: this new prime has $23{,}249{,}425$ decimal digits, just under a million more than the previous biggest prime, discovered in 2016.

If you’re really interested, the entire decimal representation of the number can be found in a 10MB ZIP file hosted at mersenne.org. Spoiler: it begins with a 4.

More information: press release at mersenne.org, home of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

via Haggis the Sheep on Twitter

AMS Communication Awards

Photo of Vi Hart: M Eifler, 2017 (CC by 4.0). Photo of Matt Parker: Steve Ullathorne

Photo of Vi Hart: M Eifler, 2017 (CC by 4.0). Photo of Matt Parker: Steve Ullathorne

The American Math Society’s Joint Policy Board for Mathematics has announced the winners of its 2018 Communication award. This year’s winners are internet maths wizard/YouTube star Vi Hart, and Aperiodipal and Stand-up Mathematician Matt Parker.

Both produce brilliant, enjoyable and illuminating mathematical videos (Vi Hart, Matt Parker), as well as numerous other projects – Vi Hart has worked with Khan Academy, produced online interactive mathematical stories, and done some super work on hyperbolic/4D virtual reality, while Parker performs with science comedy team Festival of the Spoken Nerd, has started the MathsJam pub maths movement, has written a popular maths book, and appears regularly on TV and radio.

The award includes a prize of $2,000, and aims to encourage high-quality communicators of mathematics. We think they’ve made a good choice!

More information

News post on the AMS website
About the AMS JPBM Communication prize