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Microsoft Azure has launched the 'prime challenge'

Microsoft Windows Azure has launched its ‘prime challenge’ which invites people or organisations to search for ‘hidden’ prime numbers using its open cloud platform. The prime challenge will run from 29th November 2013-29th March 2014. To assist with the search all of the participants can subscribe to a free Microsoft Windows Azure trial giving users up to $200 of free access to create and run virtual machines.

In order to map large prime numbers of hundreds or thousands of digits, powerful technology which can crunch numbers quickly is necessary and this challenge gives anyone the opportunity to access the Azure’s data centres to find and claim new prime numbers.

Prime numbers play a very important part in today’s business world, as they are used to create public key cryptography algorithms. These algorithms are used to secure most online data transfers, including email encryption and bank card security, so nearly all online purchases will use prime numbers in their security process.

Microsoft Windows Azure is an open, flexible cloud platform that enables users to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centres. It is used to interpret big data with Windows Azure HDInsight, a solution powered by Apache Hadoop; the service provides scalable cloud storage, backup, and recovery solutions for data. 

In the search for prime numbers mathematicians have frequently looked as far ahead as possible to find the next biggest prime, this has left plenty of unexplored territory within the number space. The Sieve of Eratosthenes, an ancient mathematical technique to identify prime numbers, dating back to the third century BC, is a simple algorithm that can be used to find prime numbers.

‘The biggest prime number ever discovered is 17 million decimal digits long. Previously, the biggest prime number was 12 million digits long. It’s a lot of digits, but there is also a big gap between those two. Potentially there are a lot of “lost primes” waiting to be discovered,’ stated Steve Planck, Cloud Computing and STEM Evangelist at Microsoft.


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