The RSA Challenges
Everyone must have heard of the RSA laboratories, but it is astonishing to note that the RSA is giving hefty bucks to people for factoring some numbers. And these numbers are not ordinary numbers. They have been specially generated by the RSA by multiplying two very large prime numbers, just to complicate the task a little bit. Currently the smallest unfactorised number is of just some 212 decimal digits! And the prize you get for factorizing it is $30,000! Mind-boggling isn’t it? That amounts to about 13 lakh rupees. That’s about the amount poor people like me would earn in 5 years.(When I start earning, that is,). And the largest number is of 617 decimal digits, and if you factorize, it would fetch you $200,000!!
Cooool, you would say, but let me tell you, this doesn’t seem to be all that easy. For confirmation, this is what RSA had to say when its 193-digit number was factorized:
“The factoring research team of F. Bahr, M. Boehm, J. Franke, T. Kleinjung continued its productivity with a successful factorization of the challenge number RSA-640, reported on November 2, 2005. The factors [verified by RSA Laboratories] are:
The effort took approximately 30 2.2GHz-Opteron-CPU years according to the submitters, over five months of calendar time. (This is about half the effort for RSA-200, the 663-bit number that the team factored in 2004.)”.
Now one thing all this suggests is that the number-cracking industry is monopolized by only a few people. Obviously, resources are needed to perform such hefty calculations, but it is atleast worth giving a shot. Who knows what might happen if someone stumbles upon an easier way to factorize such numbers? The RSA would turn bankrupt then. Imagine, if I get $200,000 I would engage myself in nothing but tourism…..