### RSA Challenge Numbers and Charity

Quick, factor the following number:

818940976446310466116994155375838490488210798487

300767940190433202040129777850184574334955216072

2830930320497060497494268271232459324324521

Stuck? Here's the answer:

2967592699 *

16041159971726177 *

9683406594781834082081 *

177657837071642497045150632157574121246158056326

39625635138779461455285566441946499425178667

Thanks to IBM and a mathematical tool called a "Quadratic Sieve", the above took my computer a few seconds. While the number was relatively easy because it had four factors, RSA Challenge Numbers are much tougher. So tough, in fact, that RSA is paying money to those able to factor some of these numbers.

I won't get into the math behind them, but the IBM software linked above is built for a grid computing environment, making it easy to split the task. So here's my idea: why not have people donate their computing time to solve these numbers and give the money to charity? People are not always interested in giving money, and through this method, people just donate their computing time. Programs like this exist, but none that I know of that directly result in a donation (all others lead to research).

Just a thought - might be worth looking into this summer.

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