Colloquium: “Is that a prime number?”

Marshall University Math Colloquium
September 3, 2014

Dr. Carl Mummert
Marshall University

How can you tell whether a number is prime? Is 920,419,823 prime? I will talk about several methods for testing whether a number is prime, including the groundbreaking AKS algorithm published by Agrawal, Kayal, and Saxena in 2002, which was the first efficient general-purpose test for primes. Along the way we will see several topics from discrete mathematics that don’t seem very related to primes at first glance, such as polynomials and modular arithmetic. I will also talk about the history of the three Indian computer scientists behind the AKS algorithm.