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How Computers Spend the Weekend

A team at Indiana State University is harnessing ISU's computing power to search for the largest prime numbers, the largest twin primes, and the largest Sophie Germain primes (primes of the form p and 2p+1).

A project involving Geoff Exoo, professor of mathematics and computer science, Jeff Kinne, assistant professor of computer science, and a handful of students uses 75 computers full-time and another 75 part-time on weekends and holidays. Over winter break the search yielded the 14th largest pair of twin primes.

Kinne notes that the quest for large primes has practical relevance due to their use in online encryption.

"In another 20 years, computers will be faster, and you'll need larger numbers," he says.

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Start Date: 
Tuesday, April 15, 2014