**Authors:** Stephen Marshall

Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. That is, it is a prime number of the form Mn = 2n − 1 for some integer n. They are named after Marin Mersenne, a French Minim friar, who studied them in the early 17th century. The exponents n which give Mersenne primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 13, 17, 19, 31, ... (sequence A000043) and the resulting Mersenne primes are 3, 7, 31, 127, 8191, 131071, 524287, 2147483647, ... If n is a composite number then so is 2n − 1. More generally, numbers of the form Mn = 2n − 1 without the primality requirement may be called Mersenne numbers. Sometimes, however, Mersenne numbers are defined to have the additional requirement that n be prime. The smallest composite Mersenne number with prime exponent n is 211 − 1 = 2047 = 23 × 89. Mersenne primes Mp are also noteworthy due to their connection to perfect numbers. A new Mersenne prime was found in December 2017. As of January 2018, 50 Mersenne primes are now known. The largest known prime number 277,232,917 − 1 is a Mersenne prime. Many fundamental questions about Mersenne primes remain unresolved. It is not even known whether the set of Mersenne primes is finite or infinite. Ever since M521 was proven prime in 1952, the largest known prime has always been Mersenne primes, which shows that Mersenne primes become large quickly. Since the prime numbers are infinite, and since all large primes discovered since 1952 have been Mersenne primes, this seems to be evidence indicating the infinitude of Mersenne primes since there has to continually be an infinite number of large primes, even if we don’t find them. Additional evidence, is that since prime numbers are infinite, there exist an infinite number of Mersenne numbers of form 2p – 1, meaning there exist an infinite number of Mersenne numbers that are candidates for Mersenne primes. However, as with 211 – 1, we know not all Mersenne numbers of form 2p – 1 are primes. All of this evidence makes it reasonable to conjecture that there exist an infinite number of Mersenne primes. First we will provide additional evidence indicating an infinite number of Mersenne primes. Then we will provide the proof.

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