Haworth, G. M. (1987) Mersenne numbers. Technical Report. Guy Haworth (Author)
These notes have been issued on a small scale in 1983 and 1987 and on request at other times. This issue follows two items of news. First, WaIter Colquitt and Luther Welsh found the 'missed' Mersenne prime M110503 and advanced the frontier of complete Mp-testing to 139,267. In so doing, they terminated Slowinski's significant string of four consecutive Mersenne primes. Secondly, a team of five established a non-Mersenne number as the largest known prime. This result terminated the 1952-89 reign of Mersenne primes. All the original Mersenne numbers with p < 258 were factorised some time ago. The Sandia Laboratories team of Davis, Holdridge & Simmons with some little assistance from a CRAY machine cracked M211 in 1983 and M251 in 1984. They contributed their results to the 'Cunningham Project', care of Sam Wagstaff. That project is now moving apace thanks to developments in technology, factorisation and primality testing. New levels of computer power and new computer architectures motivated by the open-ended promise of parallelism are now available. Once again, the suppliers may be offering free buildings with the computer. However, the Sandia '84 CRAY-l implementation of the quadratic-sieve method is now outpowered by the number-field sieve technique. This is deployed on either purpose-built hardware or large syndicates, even distributed world-wide, of collaborating standard processors. New factorisation techniques of both special and general applicability have been defined and deployed. The elliptic-curve method finds large factors with helpful properties while the number-field sieve approach is breaking down composites with over one hundred digits. The material is updated on an occasional basis to follow the latest developments in primality-testing large Mp and factorising smaller Mp; all dates derive from the published literature or referenced private communications. Minor corrections, additions and changes merely advance the issue number after the decimal point. The reader is invited to report any errors and omissions that have escaped the proof-reading, to answer the unresolved questions noted and to suggest additional material associated with this subject.
The report is based on an extensive review of the early literature as referenced.
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