Belgian Programmer Solves 20 Year Old Crypto Puzzle

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In 1999, MIT created a puzzle designed to take 35 years to solve. Belgian programmer Bernard Fabrot has solved it early.

The puzzle essentially involves doing roughly 80 trillion successive squarings of a starting number, and was specifically designed to foil anyone trying to solve it more quickly by using parallel computing.

“There have been hardware and software advances beyond what I predicted in 1999,” says MIT professor Ron Rivest, who first announced the puzzle in April 1999. “The puzzle’s fundamental challenge of doing roughly 80 trillion squarings remains unbroken, but the resources required to do a single squaring have been reduced by much more than I predicted.”