Prime Time

Uses of Prime Numbers

You may be reading through all of this and wondering what exactly is the point of finding out prime numbers? Up until the 19th century, there was little use for prime numbers, and mathematicians calculated them hoping to make some form of a breakthrough. Calculation of prime numbers was a purely mathematical endeavor. But, in the 19th century, there was a need for secrecy, especially during times of war. Messages and files needed to encoded, so that the enemy couldn’t read them. Encryption was used, and computers were used to make more complex, harder to crack codes. It was found that using two prime numbers multiplied together makes a much better key than any old number, because it has only four factors. One, itself, and the two primes that it is a product of. This makes the code much harder to crack. Finally, after thousands of years, man had a real use for primes, and what better use than keeping documents and files safe. Prime numbers can also be used in pseudorandom number generators, and in computer hash tables. Primes only use is in the computer world, and we still don’t have any use for primes in the physical world, however some say that some insects do.

Some insects will live in the ground for a number of years, and come out after 13 or 17 years. Both 13 and 17 are prime numbers, and by emerging at these times, it makes it harder for predators to adapt and kill the insects, and therefore more of them survive. One bug that does this is the cicada.



Clipart, 2007.


History of Prime Numbers

Uses of Prime Numbers
Patterns in Prime Numbers Types of Prime Numbers Prime Number Programs I Wrote Conclusion and Bibliography
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   © Copyright 2007. John Fraser