Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Illegal Prime Number Unzips to DeCSS

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the allright-thats-pretty-friggin-clever dept.

Censorship 307

Bob9113 writes: "A person named Phil Carmody has found a very interesting prime number. When converted to hexadecimal, the result is a gzip that contains a DeCSS implementation. I've posted a short bit of Java here that takes the prime as a command line parameter and dumps the result to standard out if you want to test it." Very clever, I just wish the background on that page wasn't headache inducing.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of old? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355825)

Yes, it was funny at the beginning, with poems, MP3 songs and everything. But now it's getting quite dull. Or is anybody really seriously believing these cute little stunts will change anything about the legality of DeCSS? No, nobody can be that naive.

Re:In other news.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355826)

Using the defintion "The only numbers that divide it are 1 and itself" then 1 is most certainly a prime, the definition says nothing about its two divisors being distinct.

The best reason why 1 is not considered prime is so that the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic can be stated elegantly. The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic is that every natural number has a unique prime factorization. If 1 were prime that factorization would not be unique. But if you're not into hardcore math then you can call 1 whatever the heck you want since everybody will still know what you talking about.

'Gotta love that math! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355827)

Now can someone please encode the MP3 version of Metallica's latest hit into a prime number?

Re:Hmmm... (Hey moderators) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355828)

I never post under my nickname. WHat's the point? Karma's useless and and you're just gonna be ridiculed by the morons who moderate this.

Like evrything, moderation should be done in moderation.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355830)

Please don't spoil the fun of this by posting logical explanations.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355831)

Yeah, true. When I told my mom that there's a prime number that gzip converts to DeCSS source, she immediately cried out: "Then DeCSS can't be illegal".

Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#355832)

I've always thought that the pursuit of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech was quite dull to begin with myself. Let's all go watch Budweiser ads and eat Doritos.

Seriously, though, the creativity that's being directed at making a mockery of the DMCA, while not "productive" in the strictest sense of the word, serves at least two important functions:

1. DMCArt, the more diverse and unrelated it becomes, has a greater liklihood of drawing attention to itself outside the already growing community who know about the DMCA and why it is evil.

At first, it was a widely distributed piece of illegal code but it had a limited audience and was a very abstract concept. Then somebody sang about it, and made it (while still impenitrable to the average American) a little catchy. I may even have memorized the song accidentally, making my brain illegal. Now people are creating new and more fascinating "interpretations" of DeCSS (almost none of them functionally equivalent to our hero, mind you) each possibly more interesting to another segment of society than the last. Soon, if we're lucky, you'll see CSSDescramble spraypainted on boxcars, and sold to unsuspecting patrons at galleries, and encoded in a pattern of bricks at the base of the latest high rise. That's when you'll know that the DMCA has finally been grepped by America. If people didn't direct their creative juices at this, it would be an unapproachable "Washington thing" (like "insurance,", right Mr. President?).

2. It keeps people like me from rotting their brain with television for a while, and instead learning more about our craft. That prime number guy likes numbers, so he sits himself down and keeps his tool sharp by finding his own way to say "fuck you" to the DMCA. The guy who wrote the song has a band, and it damn well served a purpose for him beyond mocking the movie studio cabal. So it's not just a noble, necessary thing to criticize the DMCA with art, it's a selfish thing.

And those are the best things to do of all.

Useful math? (1)

Indomitus (578) | more than 13 years ago | (#355834)

Who ever said math wasn't useful for anything in the real world? :)


Re:Hmmm... (1)

MassacrE (763) | more than 13 years ago | (#355840)

I think the odds are about 1 in 1400 (1 in log(x))

Hmm.. (5)

Chacham (981) | more than 13 years ago | (#355841)

Will this number now be a prime suspect?

ticks = jiffies;
while (ticks == jiffies);
ticks = jiffies;

Other uses of primes (2)

acb (2797) | more than 13 years ago | (#355846)

Anybody got one which decodes to the Scientology OT secret documents?

Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 13 years ago | (#355851)

Just wait. You haven't seen encoding all your bases in prime numbers yet...

Tomorrow's Headlines Today (5)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 13 years ago | (#355852)

RIAA Petitions Congress To Ban Number Theory
Mathematicians Declared "Enemy of Intellectual Property (and the American Way)"
Rambus Patents Prime Numbers

Any guesses about which one you'll see first? :)

Re:Hmm.. (1)

heretic (5829) | more than 13 years ago | (#355858)

Not only that, but the storage to represent the index into pi or e would likely be greater than terabytes of info. This would be a very inefficient encoding scheme.

Re:In other news.. (2)

ocie (6659) | more than 13 years ago | (#355862)

1 is neither a prime nor is it a composite. Same goes for zero.

Re:Numbers and hyperlinks (1)

dwlemon (11672) | more than 13 years ago | (#355873)

But then ALL numbers can be relatively short.

Re:In other news.. (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 13 years ago | (#355874)

1 is not a prime number. A prime number is a number that has *two* factors, itself an 1. 1 only has one factor, and so does not qualify.

Of course, does it really matter?

Re:In other news.. (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 13 years ago | (#355875)

Wouldn't zero have an infinite number of factors? After all, you can divide zero by anything (except zero) and get no remainder.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 13 years ago | (#355876)

Those sentences don't specify order. The first sentence simply says that he found a number, and it doesn't say how. (Your idea as to his process would qualify as "found", IMO.) The second sentence simply explains what the prime number is.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, yeah, that's probably what happened, but so what?

Easy--infinite number of primes (4)

crow (16139) | more than 13 years ago | (#355881)

This is very easy.

If you want to find something in a prime number, you figure out what you're looking for--in this case, the gziped code. You then search for prime numbers that start with those digits. Since there are an infinite number of prime numbers, you will always be able to find one (given enough time).

You could also find DeCSS gzipped in a section of Pi or e, based on similar ideas.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

ibis (16191) | more than 13 years ago | (#355882)

So someone needs to do the same thing on an executable binary - when the number runs, then what?

Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 13 years ago | (#355886)

You forget the DeCSS as a problem is mainly a USofA legal issue, other developed countries see things differently.

Re:Shorter code (1)

wavelet (17885) | more than 13 years ago | (#355887)

Using the much shorter efdtt.c [] , there's another illegal prime number [] .

Another illegal prime, efdtt.c (5)

wavelet (17885) | more than 13 years ago | (#355888)

Inspired by Phil's effort, a prime number [] encoding of the source of efdtt.c [] has been contributed by Charles M. Hannum.

Incredibly Cool... (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 13 years ago | (#355889)

This is so incredibly cool. I'd be interested in some more details on just how you run a search for a prime number of this type. They didn't just base16 it and go, wow, that was a prime. Tell us more!

Re:Easy--infinite number of primes (3)

platypus (18156) | more than 13 years ago | (#355892)

You then search for prime numbers that start with those digits. Since there are an infinite number of prime numbers, you will always be able to find one (given enough time).


Tell me the number out of all odd numbers ending with 2. Or take all numbers which don't contain the digit 9 and ...

Just because something is infinite doesn't mean it contains everything.
One had to prove that for every number N there existed n, x such that

P = N*B^n + x

where x B^n and B is the base (10 for decimal, 16 for hexadecimal etc...).
I for one am not sure whether this is true or not. I guess it's true and could be proved analogous to the basic proof that there are infinite primes.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

mTor (18585) | more than 13 years ago | (#355895)

Well.. I prefer being precise. The way /. reported is misleading :)

And now for something completely different...

Let me digress a bit... I checked your homepage and I agree 100% with what you said right here:
It's amazing how now things changed. Check this link: w-Allies.html Looks like Serbs and NATO are now allies?! Our gov. has lied to us again.

I think that this passage from 1984 sums it all up the best:

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the
speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters,
the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of
trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the
caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming
of guns -- after six days of this, when the great orgasm was
quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had
boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got
their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be
publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would
unquestionably have torn them to pieces -- at just this moment
it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war
with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an
There was, of course, no admission that any change had
taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness
and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the
enemy. Winston was taking part in a demonstration in one of the
central London squares at the moment when it happened. It was
night, and the white faces and the scarlet banners were luridly
floodlit. The square was packed with several thousand people,
including a block of about a thousand schoolchildren in the
uniform of the Spies. On a scarlet-draped platform an orator of
the Inner Party, a small lean man with disproportionately long
arms and a large bald skull over which a few lank locks
straggled, was haranguing the crowd. A little Rumpelstiltskin
figure, contorted with hatred, he gripped the neck of the
microphone with one hand while the other, enormous at the end
of a bony arm, clawed the air menacingly above his head. His
voice, made metallic by the amplifiers, boomed forth an endless
catalogue of atrocities, massacres, deportations, lootings,
rapings, torture of prisoners, bombing of civilians, lying
propaganda, unjust aggressions, broken treaties. It was almost
impossible to listen to him without being first convinced and
then maddened. At every few moments the fury of the crowd
boiled over and the voice of the speaker was drowned by a wild
beast-like roaring that rose uncontrollably from thousands of
throats. The most savage yells of all came from the
schoolchildren. The speech had been proceeding for perhaps
twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and
a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker's hand. He
unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing
altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he
was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without
words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd.
Oceania was at war with Eastasia! The next moment there was a
tremendous commotion. The banners and posters with which the
square was decorated were all wrong! Quite half of them had the
wrong faces on them. It was sabotage! The agents of Goldstein
had been at work! There was a riotous interlude while posters
were ripped from the walls, banners torn to shreds and trampled

Hmmm... (5)

mTor (18585) | more than 13 years ago | (#355896)

A person named Phil Carmody has found a very interesting prime number. When converted to hexadecimal, the result is a gzip that contains a DeCSS implementation.

The odds of this happening in this order are slim to none. If you believe in this chain of the evenets I have some stock to sell you. What really happened was most certainly the reverse. He took gzip that contained DeCSS, converted it to hex and analyzed the number. The good geek karma dictated that this number should be a prime and the rest is now the history =)

Re:numbers and itellectual property (3)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#355898)

It's not that simple.

They couldn't trademark '80486' because it's a part number, and any other manufacturer could also call their chip an '80486'. Just like different word-processor makers can come out with version 7.0 at the same time.

And as any type of data can be converted to 'just a number'.... this won't hold up. It's still decss, just encoded and padded out to a prime.

Re:numbers (5)

dutky (20510) | more than 13 years ago | (#355899)

This can be persuaive because it shows a way to use a computer program (gzip) to circumvent CSS when that program was clearly never intended as a circumvention method in the first place. This is an attack on DMCA in the broad, rather than on CSS and MPAA in particular.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

YoJ (20860) | more than 13 years ago | (#355900)

I'm guessing that the gzip format allows extraneous bytes at the end of the file that don't affect the unzipped output. So he probably added padding to make it a prime, since it is unlikely that the hex number happened to be prime itself.

numbers and itellectual property (5)

Saint Nobody (21391) | more than 13 years ago | (#355901)

as i recall, numbers alone can never be considered intellectual property. that's what bit intel in the ass with the 486. all the companies that made knockoffs were calling them 486's, diluting the namespace. so intel came out with "pentium" to solve that problem.

the question now is whether the courts would consider this just a number, or an encoding of the decss data into a number.

Hmm.. (2)

abelsson (21706) | more than 13 years ago | (#355904)

This doesnt change a thing (legally). Guess what? Any binary data can be represented as a decimal number - and therefore this number is as illegal as the original decss.c (according to US courts atleast) The fact that it is a prime doesnt change anything.

Still wickedly cool though...

Of course, you can have even more fun with numbers: don't tell the RIAA, but PI and e contains all their past, current and future songs aswell as all copyrighted material that has or will ever exist in any format you wish. Guess PI should be next on their hitlist.


Re:In other news.. (prime) (1)

proffi (21949) | more than 13 years ago | (#355905)

Studying math in Switzerland and once again referring to university's material:
1 is NOT prime!

(see e.g. "Kleine Enzyklopädie Mathematik", p. 24, Verlag Harri Deutsch, Frankfurt, 1984)

Apart from that little question, I still have to verify the claim deposited on that /.ed server ;-)

Don't conform!

Hee hee hee. (1)

ChrisGoodwin (24375) | more than 13 years ago | (#355908)

Now who are they going to sue? God?


Re:In other news.. (1)

suraklin (28841) | more than 13 years ago | (#355910)

It depends on your definition of itself. In this case "itself" happens to be one. In any explination of determining if a number is prime I have never seen it written that the two numbers (itself and one) have to be different. So I think one happens to be prime.

In other news.. (1)

PovRayMan (31900) | more than 13 years ago | (#355915)

Judge Sipowitz ordered an injunction against anyone in the United State to use any prime numbers in the following areas.

- Age
- Math Class
- Slashdot UIDs
- Programming

Judge Sipowitz was then sued by CmdrTaco because of his slashdot uid. CmdrTaco is also suing for emotional damages...

(I asked a bunch of people on IRC if 1 was a prime number. I got lot of yes and no responses. Then again turning to IRC for help? I must be crazy.)


Windows 2000 encoded to a single number! (5)

alex@thehouse (43299) | more than 13 years ago | (#355920)

The fact of the matter is that every piece of digital information is nothing but a sting of digits.

This one is interesting in that the number happens to be prime.
(Is this a mathematical trick? If not how on earth did the author make this discovery?)

My question for a lawyer is this; does Microsoft have legal copyright on some numbers?

If so, do they also own every number that can be derived mathematically from them?

If not, can we legally store any copyrighted files with say 1 subtracted from the number?

(Think of it as insecure encryption with a trivial key and algorithm.)

And finally if this act would be illegal, then surely as a copyright holder I own rights to all digital data as you can mathematically transform between any two numbers without much difficulty.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

cyberdonny (46462) | more than 13 years ago | (#355921)

> I'm guessing that the gzip format allows extraneous bytes at the end of the file that don't affect the unzipped output.

That would be cheating... A more elegant way would have been to include padding in the uncompressed output: add a space here and there, it doesn't change the meaning of the program, however it does change its gzipped representation... Write a small program that arbitrarily varies spacing of DeCSS in various places, gzips it and checks primality. Stop once a prime number is found. Or try the same with other, less "artificial" changes: choice of variable names, instruction reordering (where it doesn't affect meaning), etc.

Next exercise would be to take the largest known prime number, add gzipped DeCSS to it, and attempt to find one DeCSS variant where the new number is prime as well. As this is now the new largest known prime number, it will suddenly appear all over the place, and there's nothing the MPAA could do about it... Now, those numbers are so large that traditional primality tests are not practicable. It'll take a math genius to come up with a program that's fast enough for the purpose. But this is actually a blessing: if the primality check algorithm will be sufficiently novel, the whole stunt will be worthy of a peer-reviewed article in a math journal, causing the MPAA yet another headache. Does anybody in the audience have the math background to take up the challenge?

Guess that's why linking is illegal... (2)

cyberdonny (46462) | more than 13 years ago | (#355922)

Or else, somebody could just say: Hey, look at the sequence of digits of pi starting at mumble mumble bazillions mumble mumble and ending 137142 characters later... and he would be in the clear, because Pi exists naturally, and just "happens" to contain the source code of DeCSS at that place. Truth is, by linking to that place, you revealed the code, which formerly wasn't distinguished from the zillion other code-snippets also contained in Pi...

Trailing zeroes (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 13 years ago | (#355926)

What if the number turned out to be .253....0000? How would trailing zeroes not be lost?

Number and the GPL (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 13 years ago | (#355927)

The licensing terms on Prime Curios! are pretty standard, preventing copying, for one. I realized that the prime number is based on the DeCSS source code, and therefore protected by the GPL.

...Which brings up an interesting question... can a _number_ be GPL'd? What about patented? This scheme allows basically any computer program to be represented as a number, and if you want a prime all you have to do is append trailing garbage (ignored by gzip) until the number is prime.

Re:What about binaries... (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 13 years ago | (#355928)

Rewrite it in assembler. You're guarenteed to get an improvement.

A-HA (3)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 13 years ago | (#355930)

So either God uses Linux, or maybe the MPAA is satanic after all, and he built DeCSS into the universe to make it crumble..

BTW, doesn't the MPAA's address have the number 666 in it? Or am I thinking of another corp.?

--Never trust a tech who tattoes his IP to his arm, especially if its DHCP.

You can reduce this further. (5)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 13 years ago | (#355934)

Prime numbers are countable. You in theory can be able to reduce this from 1400+ digits by saying it's the 12345...42153th prime (perhaps about 100 digits).

However determining this number would be (ludicrously) computionally expensive. Another quest for

Why work on the CSS code, why not the keys themselves? That would be more interesting.

One: prime or composite? (1)

Cantara (68186) | more than 13 years ago | (#355940)

Very simply, 1 (along with -1) is neither prime nor composite.

+-1 is a unit.

Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (4)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 13 years ago | (#355944)

If DECSS is legal in Canada/Mexico, why not bring the lawsuit up as an illegal trade practice under NAFTA?

Reminds me of the Crystal Rod Encyclopedia (5)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#355954)

There was a short science fiction story that went something like this.

  • Alien arrives on Earth.

  • Alien asks to view all Earth encyclopedias.
    Alien encodes all the content as a single very massive integer.
    Alien treats number as a fraction between 0 and 1.
    Alien takes out a crystal rod, measures, and makes a single mark on it.
    Alien goes home with the rod to decode later.

Of course, a few terabytes of digits would exceed the resolution of any atomic matter, but the idea was there.

Re:Easy--infinite number of primes (1)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 13 years ago | (#355958)

It seems to me that "Just Some Guy" was saying that you could always find a prime number that *started* with the digits you were interested in. So you would only be interested in a portion of the prime number.

I don't know if you could always find such a prime number, but I have a gut feeling that such a number exists for each case.

Oh grow up! (2)

donutello (88309) | more than 13 years ago | (#355959)

Whether something is wrong or not is completely orthogonal to whether or not it can be enforced. Yes, it is ridiculous to ban certain numbers or T-shirts but that doesn't make it ridiculous to ban DeCSS. You aren't proving anything by pointing out that DeCSS can be encoded in a prime number.

What about binaries... (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 13 years ago | (#355960)

The smallest gziped binary (Linux ELF, i686) of dcss I was able to build is 1787 bytes long (the original was 3608). I used the 7-line C source that was posted a couple days ago (compiled with -s -O3 -mpentiumpro). I'm sure it's possible to do better... anybody tried?

Re:Hmmm... (2)

OmegaDan (101255) | more than 13 years ago | (#355966)

probably did ... however its the best challenge to the DeCSS decision thus far (IMHO), in that it drives home to even non-technical people how absurd the decision was ...

I can't wait for the t-shirt :)

Re:Sans Tables? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 13 years ago | (#355973)

Next step I guess would be to convert the table to a prime number too. Then you could add this number and that number together and get the full DeCSS source as the sum of two primes.
=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\=\=\

Pre-Slashdot Effect? (1)

rograndom (112079) | more than 13 years ago | (#355978)

I saw this on Kuro5in earlier today and I couldn't access it then. I guess I don't have a chance now :)

prime directive (2)

jafuser (112236) | more than 13 years ago | (#355979)

We'll need a Prime Directive for this number:
It is a violation of Federal law to use this number in a manner inconsitent with the DMCA.

EFF Member #11254

Re:In other news.. (2)

(void*) (113680) | more than 13 years ago | (#355982)

Well, 1 has two factors. 1 and 1. :-)

Where 1 is a prime or not is largely a matter of contention. But you certainly cannot call it a composite number, for then all other prime numbers would have to be composite as well.

Re:One: prime or composite? (2)

(void*) (113680) | more than 13 years ago | (#355983)


LOL. (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 13 years ago | (#355986)

Maybe other numbers will spew out other source code, like Windows ME, or OSX (that's why it's taking so long :P) or even linux! Sorry tux, your a random length number

Re:Hmm.. (2)

hrieke (126185) | more than 13 years ago | (#355989)

Funny thought - I forget where on the net there is a searchable database of the first million numbers in PI - so if I search PI for this string of numbers, would that make PI illegal too?

Numbers and hyperlinks (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#355990)

I remember posting here and suggesting that a database of website addresses be created, and accessible via a look-up number, the idea being that you may be able to make a url illegal to print, but a number would be going too far (this was related to the DeCss issue too i think).

Perhaps we'll find out soon whether numbers CAN be illegal - not just very very long ones, such as a cd (or religious secret), but short or natural ones.

Re:numbers (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#355991)

"I suspect the final outcome will be some judge saying "too bad" and declaring this number illegal without actually explaining himself."

So a database of prime numbers would have to exclude certain numbers? What year do you think it will be when the last country with internet access on earth bows to the wishes of an American judge and orders a such a database to be taken off line? I dont think it will happen this year, anyway?

Primster? (2)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#355992)


So what happens if i find a prime which happens to unzip to Stan by Eminem, or Scientology secrets, or a list of spies, or whatever?

What i someone set up Primster - a site which allows users to trade prime numbers. How hard is it to find these primes?

Patent Office closing early today. (1)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 13 years ago | (#355994)

Quick! Everyone patent your prime number before it's too late! We have to rush to secure our own private rights for numbers that have existed since the dawn of time! Hurry! Hurry! </sarcasm>

*low growl*

Higher Text book prices (2)

Adler (131568) | more than 13 years ago | (#355995)

Great now when you buy those text books they'll cost more 'cos the MPAA is gonna want to put a fee on it because it could be used as a piracy tool. This is gonna kill the used text book market, that'll be illegal.

I'm gonna go start work on "Texter" an internet text book trading programme.

Re:In other news.. (1)

jedwards (135260) | more than 13 years ago | (#355998)

Then 1 has 3 factors. 1, 1 and 1. Therefore it isn't prime.

Re:Incredibly Cool... (2)

jedwards (135260) | more than 13 years ago | (#355999)

First Carmody took the original anonymous version of the DeCSS C-code and gzip'ed it (a standard UNIX program for making files smaller). Suppose we call the resulting number k. By Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progression, we know that for each fixed integer b relatively prime to k, there are infinitely many primes ak+b. For technical reasons, if we choose a to be a power of 256 larger than b, the resulting number can still be unzipped to get the original file. This means there are infinitely many prime numbers which yield the same code. These include: k*256^2+2083 and k*256^211+99. At the time these were found they both were large enough to fit on the list of largest known primes (because of the method of proof).

Re:Hmmm... (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 13 years ago | (#356003)

Yeah and Newton discovered gravity because an apple fell on his head, not because he fell down the stairs.

Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (2)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 13 years ago | (#356004)

Fool. Of course it changes the legality !

This prime number _IS_ deCSS. The MPAA will either have to ban this prime number, ban gzip, or ban anyone from telling people that the number is deCSS.

Either way, I don't see this getting through the courts, even in the US...

length == precision (2)

elegant7x (142766) | more than 13 years ago | (#356009)

I think what the poster meant was that if you had a rod a mile long, you would be able to record more data on it then a rod an inch long, beacuse you could get a more precise mesurement.

Rate me on []

numbers (1)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 13 years ago | (#356010)

Any computer data / file is a number if you choose to interpret it as such. While vaguely amusing, this prime-number-as-DeCSS is no more persuasive than me saying that the contents of my Windows CD is just a big number: something similar in size to two to the 640 millionth power.

Just how persuasive is that? I don't know. Windows is copyrighted; the bigass number is not.

I suspect the final outcome will be some judge saying "too bad" and declaring this number illegal without actually explaining himself.

My mom is not a Karma whore!

CSS not an honest attempt at encryption (2)

Dram (149119) | more than 13 years ago | (#356015)

Since this and the 7 line DeCSS program shows how easy it really is to crack CSS I don't think CSS is was an honest attempt to protect the work ok DVD's. And I believe that the law says that for it to be illegal for somebody to break encryption the person encrypting the code must make an honest attempt at protecting it. Because of this, all of the lawsuits and criminal charges against people should be thrown out of the courts.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

d_pirolo (150996) | more than 13 years ago | (#356016)

While I agree that the ruling is absurd, the number itself is not illegal. If I understand the law correctly, the act of converting the number into the proscribed content or a device/program which allows you to do so would be illegal, not the number in and of itself. While only slightly less absurd, this view at least makes a little more sense.

Shorter code (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 13 years ago | (#356017)

Umm, remember that article with the script (perl I think) that was the shortest implementation of DeCSS possible? Could this be used to make an even shorter one? Except that I believe that the mathematical algorithm for finding primes is a bitch, so it might be a longer program just to find the prime number without writing the whole damn thing out. Idunno, just a thought. I'm not a math major.

Re:Hmm.. (2)

chipuni (156625) | more than 13 years ago | (#356026)

Unfortunately, pi turns out not to be random. A simple formula [] can give you any digit of pi that you want. (That page has a link to others which have formulae for other than base 16.)

One advantage (1)

eric434 (161022) | more than 13 years ago | (#356029)

If this keeps going on, I will not be allowed to take math anymore! Woohoo! Because learning about math lets people violate copyright > less people learn math = less broken copyright = population dumb enough to fall under rule of MPAA & RIAA & Clams = Me moving to Canada

DeCSS old, but an illegal number is certainly inte (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 13 years ago | (#356035)

If the idea of an illegal number is taken seriously, it has huge effects on everything. It's hard to do science, for instance, if you're missing some numbers fundamentally. "I'm sorry we cannot publish the grand theory of everything because the derivation involves an illegal number."

This also raises the interesting question whether you could take any pattern in nature, filter it through some (legal) algorithm and get DeCSS. You could always (in principle) hack such a filter that produced the DeCSS code out of any pattern you happen to choose. Because there number of such patterns is infinite, there would be an infinite number of filters (including all filters already written). But since they cannot outlaw nature (I hope), all filters would become illegal.

However, the above scenario is so absurd that the only conclusion is: you just can't outlaw DeCSS!-)


Not just DeCSS! (4)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#356036)

Courtesy of Segfault [] .

Open Source Transcendental Constant

In a revelation that could rock the foundations of science, a researcher in Pennsylvania has discovered that the digits of the transcendental constant PI encode a version of the Linux kernel. "I can't believe it," the researcher, Neil Hoffman, exclaimed. "And yet, here I am staring at what appears to be the source code for Linux kernel 5.0.0. Needless to say, my whole world-view has changed..."

Hoffman made the discovery accidentally. "I was trying to write a more efficient algorithm in C to calculate individual digits of PI. However, my relative lack of programming experience, combined with C's highly obfuscated syntax, led me to the discovery. Instead of calculating each digit and returning it as an int, my program was (for some reason I still haven't been able to figure out) converting it to its ASCII equivalent and returning it as a char."

"Then it hit me. What if some kind of secret messages, encoded in ASCII, was stored in the digits of PI? I set to work on the problem, and after several months of toil, have discovered the awesome truth. My algorithm, which applies several dozen conversions and manipulations of each digit of PI, spits out plain vanilla ASCII characters that happen to form the source code for the Linux kernel."

"I tried to compile the source code, but gcc choked on it. Apparently a later version of gcc is needed to compile the Linux 5.0.0 source code. It's too bad the code for gcc isn't encoded in another transcendental constant. Or is it? I wonder what would happen if I fed e through my algorithm..."

Many scientists are skeptical about Hoffman's discovery. One mathematician who has memorized the digits of PI to 10,000 places said, "This is the kind of nonsense one would expect to find in a tabloid such as the National Mathematics Enquirer. Or a nerd humor site. Hoffman's discovery' is obviously a hoax designed to secure government research grants."

Another scientist Segfault contacted said, "Hoffman's claim is filled with holes large enough to push Windows 95 through. Apply a little critical thinking and look at all the inconsistencies and problems with Hoffman's discovery'. ASCII is an arbitrary code. Why not EBCDIC? Also, the base 10 number system, which his PI-to-ASCII scheme is based on, is arbitrary. Why not binary numbers? Oh, and then there's the biggie: PI is infinitely long. The Linux source code is not (Windows NT, on the other hand...). Explain that, PI Boy!"

Hoffman will formally present his findings to the scientific community on March 14th at the Annual PI Day Conference and Exposition in Chicago. One conference attendee said, "Usually the PI Day expo is pretty boring, with some asinine workshops about 'The History of PI' and Teaching Techniques to Make Learning About PI More Fun for Remedial High School Students'. However, with the unfolding brouhaha surrounding the Linux-PI connection, this could be a very interesting convention. Then again, there's going to be several hundred mathematicians from around the world in attendance. It might not be that exciting after all."

In a related matter, Segfault has received an unconfirmed report that a region of the standard Mandelbrot fractal contains what appear to be the words "LINUS TORVALDS WAS HERE". In addition, the words "TRANSMETA: THIS SECRET MESSAGE IS NOT HERE YET" supposedly appear within the depths of the Julia Set.

Linus Torvalds and Benoit Mandelbrot were unavailable for comment at press time.


Re:Isn't that whole DeCSS thing getting kind of ol (1)

dadragon (177695) | more than 13 years ago | (#356043)

It's not illegal anywhere else in the world. Go to Canada, Europe, even AUSTRALIA, and it's legal.

Segfault wallpaper (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#356048)

Well, the obvious thing to do is to convert the number into a wallpaper pattern, a windows scream saver, etc.

one of those pretty random number things, and then get is distributed on the free downloads sites as a windows theme....

share the wealth.

Re:48565...2944 (1)

Ratcrow (181400) | more than 13 years ago | (#356049)

If it ended in 4, it wouldn't be prime.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

Ratcrow (181400) | more than 13 years ago | (#356050)

...or that the next Napster-clone will be called e-ster, and it will distribute the offset into the number e and the length that represents a particular song. Now we just need a fast way to generate arbitrary digits of e (without having to compute from the beginning each time) and an even faster method of searching those digits ( to match up with actual files. Talk about data compression. Of course, the amount of computational energy needed to pull this off probably exceeds the amount of energy in the universe...

Re:Hmm.. (1)

bn557 (183935) | more than 13 years ago | (#356065)

Nah, they'll just define pi as 3.14 and e as 2.71 to solve the problems

Excellent (2)

ZanshinWedge (193324) | more than 13 years ago | (#356071)

Very very cool.

Ya know, this battle of wits between the DVD CCA / MPAA and the hackers of the world is not going particularly well for the corporate interests.

every code is just a number... (1)

ponxx (193567) | more than 13 years ago | (#356072)

or can be represented by one anyway. Just this one happens to be prime! (or rather he probably played with it for a while until he found one that was prime).

The one reason this is interesting though is that it highlights an important question about code (and speach in general), does someone "create" it, or does one just "find" it. If I write a programme and combile it I could say I just researched for a while to come up with the hexadecimal number that executes to run a word processor...

Maybe, I can claim prior art on all code by just writing down a mathematical representation for all natural numbers (e.g. the commonly used N) + an algorithm for converting it into code (such as the change to hexadec. and gunzip it, or just rename to .exe and execute it). I have in effect written down all possible computer programmes, just because someone else "found" one of them as well does not mean I don't hold my rights to it :), and just because i haven't tested every single one of them, does not mean they don't exist...

It might be worth trying to get a US patent on all code that can be obtained from a single number :) (i.e. all code)

Irony (2)

OverCode@work (196386) | more than 13 years ago | (#356078)

For double irony, use this number as your encryption key.


Portable (1)

perlyking (198166) | more than 13 years ago | (#356079)

I can imagine this turning up in lots of places now, hidden comments in HTML code, thinkgeek T-Shirts, you name it.


Write an encryption program with this (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#356080)

I'd code this myself if I could, but couldn't someone write a simple file encryption program that uses a large prime to do the encrypting. The large prime is kept in a separate file and the prime that is distributed with the software is the DeCSS prime. That way there is another useful purpose for this prime and you can't use arguments that its ONLY purpose is decrypting DVD's (the main argument against DeCSS in the beginning).

Sans Tables? (3)

Mr. Polite (218181) | more than 13 years ago | (#356088)

The article says that the source is "Sans Tables".. in other words, it's useless. So what's the point? Isn't it the encryption keys that are actually the "trade secrets" in question?

Woohoo (3)

kosipov (218202) | more than 13 years ago | (#356089)

Math haters rejoice! Theory of prime number is now illegal under Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Enough with the Java and Perl script... (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#356091)

...can someone just convert this to C and make a program to convert it?

Re:Enough with the Java and Perl script... (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#356092)

I'm still learning about strings and pointers in C class, and I've never gone hip-deep into Java code. Perl looks almost unintelligible to me.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

ThymePuns (222253) | more than 13 years ago | (#356093)

Maybe they'll show it on TV during Prime Time.

Great.... (1)

codewolf (239827) | more than 13 years ago | (#356102)

Now we won't be able to use numbers anymore! Math geeks will finally have something to protest!

Re:Shorter code (1)

samrolken (246301) | more than 13 years ago | (#356104)

The court finds you guilty of the posession of a very large prime number, and the program used to create it. For your crimes, you are hereby sentenced to....

I would like to see an illegal prime number.

Re:Hmm.. (2)

Anoriymous Coward (257749) | more than 13 years ago | (#356106)

It does help explain the absurdity of the ruling, though. This number is illegal, and you may not display this number, or link to sites that display it. Which number will be next? 626529876? 354157647732?

#include "stdio.h"

Someone has to say it (3)

Joey7F (307495) | more than 13 years ago | (#356115)

The MPAA has issued a statement on the article posted by /. "All your base 16 are belong to us" --Joey

Re:48565...2944 -- NOT!! (1)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 13 years ago | (#356117)

Yeah, but unless you carry that last 3, you'll still be watching static. *sigh*, victim of another bad translation... :-)

or what if... (2)

screwballicus (313964) | more than 13 years ago | (#356122)

If this number is deemed legal, this could open some interesting possibilities to us. For example, with Pi (3.14159...) offering us an infinite series of random number combinations, might it not be used as a vehicle for transferring illegal information? The process would go something like the following

- Someone writes a java app capable of searching Pi for a number series identical to the ASCII values of the text they wish to tranfer.

- Upon finding this series, the location of it in Pi is transferred in a format something like "12137-12193" meaning "the message begins at place 12137 and ends at place 12193"

- Bingo. Your recipient has the message and all you transferred was two completely unrelated numbers.

Then again, maybe Pi is illegal.

48565...2944 (1)

KingFOOL (314876) | more than 13 years ago | (#356123)

All your 48565...2944 belong to us!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?