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Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search

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Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS)
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The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) is a collaborative project of volunteers who use freely available software to search for Mersenne prime numbers.

GIMPS was founded in 1996 by George Woltman, who also wrote the Prime95 client and its Linux port MPrime. Scott Kurowski wrote the back end PrimeNet server to demonstrate volunteer computing software by Entropia, a company he founded in 1997. GIMPS is registered as Mersenne Research, Inc. with Kurowski as Executive Vice President and board director. GIMPS is said to be one of the first large scale volunteer computing projects over the Internet for research purposes.[1]

As of October 2022, the project has found a total of seventeen Mersenne primes, fifteen of which were the largest known prime number at their respective times of discovery. The largest known prime as of September 2022 is 282,589,933 − 1 (or M82,589,933 for short) and was discovered on December 7, 2018, by Patrick Laroche.[2] On December 4, 2020, the project passed a major milestone after all exponents below 100 million were checked at least once.[3]

From its inception until 2018, the project relied primarily on the Lucas–Lehmer primality test[4] as it is an algorithm that is both specialized for testing Mersenne primes and particularly efficient on binary computer architectures. Before applying it to a given Mersenne number, there was a trial division phase, used to rapidly eliminate many Mersenne numbers with small factors. Pollard's p − 1 algorithm is also used to search for smooth factors.

In 2018, GIMPS adopted a Fermat primality test as an alternative option for primality testing,[5][clarification needed] while keeping the Lucas-Lehmer test as a double-check for Mersenne numbers detected as probable primes by the Fermat test.[6] (While the Lucas-Lehmer test is deterministic and the Fermat test is only probabilistic, the probability of the Fermat test finding a Fermat pseudoprime that is not prime is vastly lower than the error rate of the Lucas-Lehmer test due to computer hardware errors.[7])

In September 2020,[8][9][10] GIMPS began to support primality proofs based on verifiable delay functions.[11] The proof files are generated while the Fermat primality test is in progress. These proofs, together with an error-checking algorithm devised by Robert Gerbicz, provide a complete confidence in the correctness of the test result and eliminate the need for double checks. First-time Lucas-Lehmer tests were deprecated in April 2021.[12]

GIMPS also has sub-projects to factor known composite Mersenne and Fermat numbers.[13]


The project began in early January 1996,[14][15] with a program that ran on i386 computers.[16][17] The name for the project was coined by Luke Welsh, one of its earlier searchers and the co-discoverer of the 29th Mersenne prime.[18] Within a few months, several dozen people had joined, and over a thousand by the end of the first year.[17][19] Joel Armengaud, a participant, discovered the primality of M1,398,269 on November 13, 1996.[20] Since then, GIMPS has discovered a new Mersenne prime every 1 to 2 years on average. However, no new Mersenne prime has been found since 2018, constituting the longest period without a new discovery since the start of the project (over 5 years as of 2024).


As of July 2022, GIMPS has a sustained average aggregate throughput of approximately 4.71 PetaFLOPS (or PFLOPS).[21] In November 2012, GIMPS maintained 95 TFLOPS,[22] theoretically earning the GIMPS virtual computer a rank of 330 among the TOP500 most powerful known computer systems in the world.[23] The preceding place was then held by an 'HP Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c G7' of Hewlett-Packard.[24] As of July 2021 TOP500 results, the current GIMPS numbers would no longer make the list.

Previously, this was approximately 50 TFLOPS in early 2010, 30 TFLOPS in mid-2008, 20 TFLOPS in mid-2006, and 14 TFLOPS in early 2004.

Software license[edit]

Although the GIMPS software's source code is publicly available,[25] technically it is not free software, since it has a restriction that users must abide by the project's distribution terms.[26] Specifically, if the software is used to discover a prime number with at least 100,000,000 decimal digits, the user will only win $50,000 of the $150,000 prize offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On the other hand, they will win $3,000 when discovering a smaller prime not qualifying for the prize.[26][27]

Third-party programs for testing Mersenne numbers, such as Mlucas[28] and Glucas[29] (for non-x86 systems), do not have this restriction.

GIMPS also "reserves the right to change this EULA without notice and with reasonable retroactive effect."[26]

Primes found[edit]

All Mersenne primes are of the form Mp = 2p − 1, where p is a prime number itself. The smallest Mersenne prime in this table is 21398269 − 1.

The first column is the rank of the Mersenne prime in the (ordered) sequence of all Mersenne primes;[30] GIMPS has found all known Mersenne primes beginning with the 35th.

# Discovery date Prime Mp Digits count Processor
35 November 13, 1996 M1398269 420,921 Pentium (90 MHz)
36 August 24, 1997 M2976221 895,932 Pentium (100 MHz)
37 January 27, 1998 M3021377 909,526 Pentium (200 MHz)
38 June 1, 1999 M6972593 2,098,960 Pentium (350 MHz)
39 November 14, 2001 M13466917 4,053,946 AMD T-Bird (800 MHz)
40 November 17, 2003 M20996011 6,320,430 Pentium (2 GHz)
41 May 15, 2004 M24036583 7,235,733 Pentium 4 (2.4 GHz)
42 February 18, 2005 M25964951 7,816,230 Pentium 4 (2.4 GHz)
43 December 15, 2005 M30402457 9,152,052 Pentium 4 (2 GHz overclocked to 3 GHz)
44 September 4, 2006 M32582657 9,808,358 Pentium 4 (3 GHz)
45 September 6, 2008 M37156667 11,185,272 Intel Core 2 Duo (2.83 GHz)
46 June 4, 2009 M42643801 12,837,064 Intel Core 2 Duo (3 GHz)
47 August 23, 2008 M43112609 12,978,189 Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU (2.4 GHz)
48 January 25, 2013 M57885161 17,425,170 Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3.00 GHz
49[†] January 7, 2016 M74207281 22,338,618 Intel Core i7-4790
50[†] December 26, 2017 M77232917 23,249,425 Intel Core i5-6600
51[†] December 7, 2018 M82589933[‡] 24,862,048 Intel Core i5-4590T

^ † As of November 14, 2023, 65,723,341 is the largest exponent below which all other prime exponents have been checked twice, so it is not verified whether any undiscovered Mersenne primes exist between the 48th (M57885161) and the 51st (M82589933) on this chart; the ranking is therefore provisional. Furthermore, 114,055,847 is the largest exponent below which all other prime exponents have been tested at least once, so all Mersenne numbers below the 51st (M82589933) have been tested.[31]

^ ‡ The number M82589933 has 24,862,048 decimal digits. To help visualize the size of this number, if it were to be saved to disk, the resulting text file would be nearly 25 megabytes long (most books in plain text format clock in under two megabytes). A standard word processor layout (50 lines per page, 75 digits per line) would require 6,629 pages to display it. If one were to print it out using standard printer paper, single-sided, it would require approximately 14 reams (14 × 500 = 7000 sheets) of paper.

Whenever a possible prime is reported to the server, it is verified first (by one or more independent tests on different machines) before being announced. The importance of this was illustrated in 2003, when a false positive was reported to the server as being a Mersenne prime but verification failed.[32]

The official "discovery date" of a prime is the date that a human first noticed the result for the prime, which may differ from the date that the result was first reported to the server. For example, M74207281 was reported to the server on September 17, 2015, but the report was overlooked until January 7, 2016.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Volunteer computing". BOINC. Archived from the original on 18 December 2021. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  2. ^ "GIMPS Project Discovers Largest Known Prime Number: 282,589,933-1". Mersenne Research, Inc. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  3. ^ "GIMPS Milestones Report". Mersenne.org. Mersenne Research, Inc. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  4. ^ What are Mersenne primes? How are they useful? - GIMPS Home Page
  5. ^ "GIMPS - the Math - PrimeNet".
  6. ^ "mersenneforum.org - View Single Post - Getting reliable LL from unreliable hardware". mersenneforum.org. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  7. ^ "mersenneforum.org - View Single Post - Getting reliable LL from unreliable hardware". mersenneforum.org. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  8. ^ "Announcements". GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Archived from the original on 2021-08-14. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  9. ^ "What's new". Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Prime95 v30.3". Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  11. ^ Woltman, George (2020-06-16). "The Next Big Development for GIMPS". GIMPS forum. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  12. ^ Woltman, George (2021-04-08). "First time LL is no more". Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  13. ^ "PrimeNet ECM Progress". Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  14. ^ The Mersenne Newsletter, Issue #9. Retrieved 2011-10-02. Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "mersenneforum.org - View Single Post - Party on! GIMPS turns 10!!!". www.mersenneforum.org. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  16. ^ Woltman, George (February 24, 1996). "The Mersenne Newsletter, issue #1" (txt). Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  17. ^ a b Woltman, George (January 15, 1997). "The Mersenne Newsletter, issue #9" (txt). GIMPS. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  18. ^ The Mersenne Newsletter, Issue #9. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  19. ^ Woltman, George (April 12, 1996). "The Mersenne Newsletter, issue #3" (txt). GIMPS. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  20. ^ Woltman, George (November 23, 1996). "The Mersenne Newsletter, issue #8" (txt). GIMPS. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  21. ^ PrimeNet Activity Summary, GIMPS, retrieved 2022-07-19
  22. ^ PrimeNet Activity Summary, GIMPS, retrieved 2012-04-05
  23. ^ "TOP500 - November 2012". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  24. ^ TOP500 per November 2012; HP BL460c with 95.1 TFLOP/s (R max)."TOP500 - Rank 329". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Software Source Code". Mersenne Research, Inc. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  26. ^ EFF Cooperative Computing Awards, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 29 February 2008, retrieved 2011-09-19
  27. ^ "Mlucas README".
  28. ^ "Untitled".
  29. ^ "GIMPS List of Known Mersenne Prime Numbers". Mersenne Research, Inc. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  30. ^ "GIMPS Milestones". Mersenne Research, Inc. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  31. ^ "M40, what went wrong? - Page 11 - mersenneforum.org". mersenneforum.org. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  32. ^ "GIMPS Project Discovers Largest Known Prime Number". January 19, 2016.

External links[edit]