## 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:

16347336458092538484431338838650908598417836700330

92312181110852389333100104508151212118167511579and

1900871281664822113126851573935413975471896789968

515493666638539088027103802104498957191261465571The 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…..

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BarbaraDecember 8, 2006 at 10:50 am