Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private> http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/comp/articleshow?artid=34707852 SIDDHARTHA D KASHYAP TIMES NEWS NETWORK JANUARY 18, 2003 PUNE: Computer scientist Manindra Agrawal, who hit global headlines last year by unravelling a long-standing mystery of prime numbers, does not plan to patent his method. The problem of conclusively identifying enormous prime numbers (hundreds of digits long) had baffled mathematicians across centuries until the Kanpur-based IIT-ian and two of his undergraduate students - Neeraj Kayal and Nitin Saxena - developed a simple method of cracking it. Prime numbers (such as 1, 5, 11, 37...) are divisible only by themselves or 1. While smaller prime numbers are easy to make out, for very large numbers, there never had been a formula for "primality testing" until August 2002. "I'm not keen on restricting mathematicians and other people from using this method," says Agrawal,who will soon be leaving for a year-long stint at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey. Felicitated for his mathematical breakthrough by Tata Consultancy Services here on Friday afternoon, Agrawal delivered a lecture on the subject. The primality formula opened up new vistas to decode Internet encryption, besides offering a new ray of hope to other problems in Mathematics. "What we've so far achieved is a foolproof method of identifying large prime numbers," he said, adding that the factoring problem is yet to be solved. "So why not allow people to work on this technique and unravel the further problem," he asked, while explaining the reason for not opting for a patent. While Agrawal's discovery has fascinated people,who have gone to the extent of heralding an end to the use of the Internet, Agrawal humbly accepts it is presently of little or no commercial value. "The algorithm we discovered will not set new world records because of its innate lack of speed," he admits. A 100-digit number takes at least a year to determine its primality, he adds. "All those reports are misleading and inconsequential now," he said, adding that the race is, however, on to arrive at new approaches to primality testing. "We hope to achieve some results at the end of two years." Does the discovery hold any relevance to cryptography? "No, not at the moment. Again because our algorithm is not fast enough for practical applications," he said. Presently, information security on the Internet is based on the difficulty of factoring an enormous number. "For anybody to decrypt such a number, one has to figure out the two prime numbers (factors) used, which are 250 digits each, or more long," he said. "Besides, factoring is the key to many other mathematical problems too." *==============================================================* "Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC ================================================================ C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org *==============================================================* - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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