If the NSA is able to break through banks' computer security, does that mean it solved the prime factorization problem?
The New York Times reported
recently that “the agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems.” Since banks' encryption codes rely on the fact that nobody knows how to find the prime factors of really large numbers, it could mean that the NSA has found a way to do that. Or it could mean that the NSA has simply gotten lots of banks to give up their information, or found other ways around their encryption. But if they've cracked this long-standing math problem, might the secret leak? What would be the effects?
posted by Sleeper
on Sep 12, 2013 -
What is the smallest prime?
"It seems that the number two should be the obvious answer, and today it is, but it was not always so. There were times when and mathematicians for whom the numbers one and three were acceptable answers. To find the first prime, we must also know what the first positive integer is. Surprisingly, with the definitions used at various times throughout history, one was often not the first positive integer (some started with two, and a few with three). In this article, we survey the history of the primality of one, from the ancient Greeks to modern times. We will discuss some of the reasons definitions changed, and provide several examples. We will also discuss the last significant mathematicians to list the number one as prime."
posted by escabeche
on Sep 18, 2012 -
The Prime Game
is not really much of a game, but it is
a neat & little-known fact about the decimal representation of prime numbers.
posted by Wolfdog
on Jul 10, 2007 -
The math geeks have done it again.
Yet another prime number which, when converted to binary, contains DeCSS: this one's an x86 Linux ELF executable. Only took a weekend of hacking to do, and it's only 752 bytes! You know what they say: when prime numbers are outlawed, only outlaws will have prime numbers.
posted by darukaru
on Sep 11, 2001 -
Mersenne Prime Search
is a distributed computing project much like Seti@home
, except instead of searching for aliens, you're in the running for $100,000 and a place in math history (shouldn't your computer actually be the one that goes into the math history books?).
posted by mathowie
on Jul 7, 2000 -