Tag Archives: mersenne primes

The search for the largest prime numbers and GIMPS



A few weeks back I started teaching my 11 year old son Python programming language. It is turning out to be an amazing experience as I see the delight on his face when his program works and when I see the worry when he is debugging a program that he thought he wrote “perfectly”. One of the programs that he recently wrote was to find the first n primes where n is a user specified value. When his programmed worked( after some debug), he asked me if we can run it long enough to be able to find the biggest prime ever discovered. A few years ago I had told him that there are prizes for finding the largest known prime number. He thought that he could win the prize by running his program overnight! That was an excellent starting point to discuss algorithms and why some algorithms are better than others. I also told him about the limits of a personal computer. We then searched on the internet for the prime number world records and how the largest prime numbers are found. And that is the subject of this VERITAS.

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