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Old 2003-11-23, 01:32   #1
Prime Monster
 
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Default Why do you run GIMPS ?

For the new user intro "page" I would like a section on why people run GIMPS. Please keep your answers at a level a new user can understand. Also assume that he is not familiar with DC projects in general.

I don't mind if you post several reasons, as they are all valid

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Last fiddled with by Prime Monster on 2003-11-23 at 01:32
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Old 2003-11-23, 02:21   #2
Complex33
 
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Sex appeal to women of course.
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Old 2003-11-23, 08:24   #3
edorajh
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Complex33
Sex appeal to women of course.



I run it because Mersenne primes are so rare, simple and beautiful (simple and beautiful is referred to their form 2^P-1, of course).
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Old 2003-11-23, 10:38   #4
TauCeti
 
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I run GIMPS, because it is most demanding on computer hardware and it challenges my mind.

I also believe, that the understanding of prime distribution may have vast consequences for our daily life in the future and it feels good to be part of the research community today.
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Old 2003-11-23, 13:27   #5
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I've heard that near-primes are good for cryptography so we're helping to make the world a more secure place.

Also because I have a friendly competition going with a friend

And also because I like to be able to tell people that I rank 59 IN THE WORLD for factoring Mersenne prime numbers.
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Old 2003-11-23, 13:53   #6
optim
 
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I run GIMPS because:
1. I want to win the $100000 EFF prize for discovering new 10000000-digit mersenne primes and become famous.
2. I like the idea of having my computers performing some scientific research.
3. It enables me to convince girls that I am doing something special and unique :>
4. it's fun to see your CPU usage being at 100% levels all the time! :>

The money prize is a very important motivator for me. I think that the probability of finding a mersenne prime is much higher than winning the lottery in my country (Greece, EU). *

In this way GIMPS is like a funy lottery game for me.

*: the only problem is time: I may need 2-3 months to check a number for mersenne primality, while I can play two lottery games every week.

Last fiddled with by optim on 2003-11-23 at 13:58
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Old 2003-11-24, 03:30   #7
E_tron
 
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...because it rimes with BLIMPS and CHIMPS.

Quote:
Originally posted by optim
I run GIMPS because:
1. I want to win the $100000 EFF prize for discovering new 10000000-digit mersenne primes and become famous.
2. I like the idea of having my computers performing some scientific research...
...and that too .
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Old 2003-11-24, 05:46   #8
Lumly
 
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I wrote this a while back, still as true now as it was then...

Why donate your computer cycles to GIMPS?

I could give you technical reasons for crunching for GIMPS, but I won’t. Most people aren’t interested in them, though they exist and are quite persuasive. I find the psychological reasons far more compelling because, in the end, these are the reasons you will stay with the project.

Tell me something I don’t know.

There is something very gratifying about knowing the actual outcome of your work unit. A GIMPS client returns very definite results. If you trial factor an exponent successfully, it will not only tell you so but give you the factor that it found. If you Lucas-Lehmer test an exponent, you will know that it is, or isn’t, prime because it actually tells you.

Results are forever. You can always refer back to them at any time. Twenty years down the road you will be able to state with certainty that you proved that such–and-such a Mersenne number was composite.

This is not the case of most other distributed computing projects. You will never have a screen that pops up and tells you that you just found E.T. You will endlessly process work unit after work unit and never will you be able to distinguish between the first one and the ten-thousandth.

Anthropomorphic personification.

Crunching for distributed computing projects can be thrilling. Watching the number of work units you put out per day can make you excited about your throughput. The work pours in quickly and the results leave even faster.

GIMPS is a different sort of project for it is slow and deliberate. The work units are so unlike most others projects’ that we don’t even call them work units at all. We call them exponents or assignments because the term ‘work unit’ isn’t personal enough.

With today’s computers these exponents can take anywhere between two days to two months to complete. Running a Lucas-Lehmer test on a 33M (a Lucas-Lehmer exponent that is in the thirty-three million range or, when expanded, is a ten million digit number) is an intimate process. You will probably have to trial factor it. Then it passes into L1 factoring stage 1, on to L1 stage 2, and finally it spends weeks on the Lucas-Lehmer testing.

All the while you watch it slowly mature. The exponent ceases to be a mathematical representation of an integer but instead takes on a life all its own. It is a life that you and your computer nourish with CPU cycles. Even though you know that only a tiny fraction of the Lucas-Lehmer test could possibly have been performed, you check on it several times a day just in case something goes wrong. You get to know it like a friend. You can recite it by number and you remember it long after the result of the test has been sent in to Prime Net.

No other distributed computing project comes close to this level of emotional attachment for the cruncher. The time invested on each exponent is what makes GIMPS special. It teaches the user patience and perseverance. Devotion and loyalty soon follow.

It’s quiet... too quiet.

Another unique aspect of GIMPS is that you can use the client program to search for prime numbers completely on your own. You do not have to go through the server to get your assignments, nor do you have to use the manual web pages.

You can, at any time, test any exponent that you wish. The results will be reported to you in the normal fashion, at which point you simply test another one at your leisure.

This allows you to do your own search, testing your own range of exponents, building up your own data sheet of results with no one else the wiser. You can be like the mathematicians of old, working in solitude, hoping to find that one number that will put them in the history books. Should you find a one, you will be accredited, along with the project programmer who after all did write the application.

Alas, Horatio, I knew him well.

The greatness of a distributed computing project isn’t dependant on the kind of work it researches, but rather the quality of its client program. This is in turn influenced solely by the competence of the programmer behind it.

Some distributed computing projects have client programs that are rarely updated, or worse still, that are rewritten by the users because the programmer himself is not talented enough to handle the job.

GIMPS’ George Woltman is a singular man in this respect. Easily reachable by any and all who want to talk to him, he listens to the needs of his crunchers. He continually seeks to optimize the client’s code, often rewriting it completely for every new instruction set that is released. If a bug is found then it is fixed. If you have a suggestion then he will listen. He just plain takes the time and effort.

All of this is because he is passionate about prime numbers. It has forced him to learn his maths as well as his programming. It is this infectious zeal that spreads to those who crunch for GIMPS. You don’t need to know just how it works. When you see the amount of energy he puts into it, you are hard pressed not to want to share in it.

We regret to inform you …

Many people have had high aspirations when they were young. Just how many wanted to be a fireman or a ballerina but never did can never be known.

My own ambition was to go into astrophysics. Along the way I discovered that although my algebra was top notch I just couldn’t wrap my head well enough around calculus. That failure is a regret that I have, and though the search for prime numbers does not entail the direct use of calculus nor does it solve the meaning of the universe, the chance to work on a problem of purely mathematical abstraction without the need to train oneself for years is appealing to me.

…these fifteen… no ten, ten commandments!

Probably the most compelling reason to run GIMPS is to get your name in the history books. Think of it. Mersenne himself lived and died hundreds of years ago and yet today his name is plastered all over an electronic medium of which he could never even have conceived. All the discoverers of Mersenne primes have their names permanently etched in ‘stone’, and although no one will remember most of their names from memory, they will still be there in the list, flagstones on the never ending path of mathematical discovery. Thousands of years from now their names will still be recorded somewhere as discoverers of Mersenne primes. This is no exaggeration either. As long as modern technology survives, so will their names.

You will never find this sort of reward in other distributed computing projects. Hundreds of years from now no one will record the fact that it was your computer that found the key fold of a protein. No one will record that it was your computer that processed the signal that found extraterrestrial life. All that will be recorded is that it was a group effort. Mathematical research differs in this respect. It is a tradition to credit the individual.

In fifty words or less…

Idle hands are the devil’s playground, as too are idle CPU cycles. If you are still reading this then you must agree. The only choice left is where to put your allegiance. Please consider joining GIMPS today.

Written by Justin “Lumly” Valcourt
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Old 2003-11-24, 09:12   #9
edorajh
 
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This is beautiful, Lumly! I print it out and will hang it on the wall. It should be published (if it isn't already).
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Old 2003-11-24, 10:38   #10
TauCeti
 
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Thank you a lot, Lumly. A masterpiece.
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Old 2003-11-24, 10:39   #11
Prime Monster
 
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I have to agree with edorajh. It is very good Lumly.

I will add it to the newcomer intro thread in its entirety as, a seperate post, if I may.

I would still like some more reasons from you other lot. The newcomer thread will try to convince newcomers why they should run GIMPS. Lots of different reasons are valid. If a newcomer sees something he/she can identify with, then it it easier to convince him/her to actually start.

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