Primo: A Mathematics Board Game About Prime Numbers

One of the latest cool math games I have come to know recently is Primo, a mathematics board game that looks very promising. It can be played by 2-4 players from age 10 and and above.  I have never actually played it yet, in fact it is still in its testing phase, but it really looks very interesting.

How to Play Primo

Primo is a race towards the center of the board. Each player has two pawns (yes, chess pawns), and alternately rolls two 10-sided dice.   The four fundamental operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) can be applied to the numbers obtained from the roll to determine the movements of the pawns. The player who lands two pawns at 101 or the center of the board wins the game. » Read more

Mersenne Primes Under the Microscope

What are Mersenne Primes?

The recent discovery of the largest known prime number which is 17 million digits highlighted the importance of Mersenne primes.  This newest prime number and the thirteen largest primes are all Mersenne primes. But what are Mersenne primes really and why are they important in finding the largest prime numbers?

If a prime number can be expressed in the form 2^n - 1, n an integer, then it is said to be a Mersenne prime. The name came from Marin Mersenne who studied them, a French monk and well-known mathematician in the 17th century.


Many early mathematicians saw and conjectured that if n is a prime number, 2^n - 1 is prime.  For instance, in the figure above, for n = 2, 3, 5, 7 which are prime numbers, their corresponding 2^n - 1 values are also prime numbers. However, this is not true in general since 2^{11} - 1 = 2047 = (23)(89) is not prime.  » Read more

Largest Prime Number Yet, Discovered

Even though every mathematician knows that there is no largest prime number, (for any prime number, a larger prime number exists), that did not stop some from searching for the largest prime number.

Marin Mersenne

Marin Mersenne

On January 25, 2013, Dr. Curtis Cooper of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a professor at the University of Central Missouri, discovered the 48th Mersenne prime which is equal to 2^{57,885,161} - 1 a number which is about 17 million digits. This the 14th score of GIMPS in  discovering the largest prime number yet.  It took 39 days of non-stop computing for the primality proof and it was verified by different software and hardware. Dr. Cooper won $3000 for the discovery. » Read more

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