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A Biochemist Weighs in on the Closing of Humanities Departments at SUNY Albany

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sat, 11/27/2010 - 5:05pm

Gregory A. Petsko is the Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry at Brandeis University. In his column in Genome Biology (also published at Inside Higher Ed), he wrote an open letter to George Philip, the President of SUNY Albany, who evicerated the language department at his university.  Priceless:

It seems to me that the way you went about [announcing the closure of the departments in a Friday afternoon meeting] couldn't have been more likely to alienate just about everybody on campus. In your position, I would have done everything possible to avoid that. I wouldn't want to end up in the 9th Bolgia (ditch of stone) of the 8th Circle of the Inferno, where the great 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri put the sowers of discord. There, as they struggle in that pit for all eternity, a demon continually hacks their limbs apart, just as in life they divided others.

The Inferno is the first book of Dante's Divine Comedy, one of the great works of the human imagination. There's so much to learn from it about human weakness and folly. The faculty in your Italian department would be delighted to introduce you to its many wonders -- if only you had an Italian department, which now, of course, you don't.

Happy 100th, Freddy Ayer

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 10/29/2010 - 7:36pm

Herbert B. Enderton, 1936-2010

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 10/28/2010 - 10:37am

Sad news:

With sadness we report the death on October 20 of Herbert Bruce Enderton, who had been battling leukemia for several months. He was Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at UCLA and a former member of the faculties of Mathematics and of Logic and the Methodology of Science at Berkeley. Widely known for his textbooks in the areas of logic, Enderton as a contributor to recursion theory, the theory of definability, models of nalysis, computational complexity, and history of logic.

The Enderton family requests that flowers not be sent. There will be no funeral, but a memorial service will be held at a future date.

CfP: Tools for Teaching Logic 2011

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:27pm

If you're interested or involved in teaching logic, please consider subitting something to this conference. And if you don't have anything to submit, keep it in mind for your summer travel plans next year. Spain in June!

Third International Congress on Tools for Teaching Logic
June 1-4 2011, Salamanca, Spain

The congress will focus on a variety of topics including: logic teaching software, teaching formal methods, logic in the humanities, dissemination of logic courseware and logic textbooks, methods for teaching logic at different levels of instruction (secondary education, university level, and postgraduate), presentation of postgraduate programs in logic, e-learning, logic games, teaching argumentation theory and informal logic, pedagogy of logic.

Call for papers

  • Submission of Papers: December 8th, 2010
  • Notification of Acceptance: February 1st, 2011
  • Final Camera-Ready Submission Due: March 1st, 2011


We are inviting submissions on the conference topics, or on any other aspect of teaching logic or logic teaching software. We prefer 6 or 8 page submissions. Submissions must not exceed 8 pages. It is expected that each accepted paper be presented at the conference by one of its authors. Papers must be submitted electronically, in pdf-format, at the TICTTL EasyChair website . Submissions need not be formatted in LNCS style! However, accepted full papers must be formatted in LNCS style, and must respect the page limit.

Patrick Blackburn, Hans van Ditmarsch, Maria Manzano, Fernando Soler

Commenting Works Again!

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sat, 10/23/2010 - 10:24am

Commenting works again.... There were a lot (and by a lot, I mean thousands!) of spam comments over the summer, which led me to first turn off commenting, and then install a spam filter, which worked so well that it would not accept any comments at all. If fallen back to a simple Captcha. Hope that keeps the spammers out, and hope it makes the commenters come back!  So if you had anything to say in response to a post over the last few months... now you can. 

 Also, if you haven't changed the URL of the RSS feed. Please do:

 http://www.ucalgary.ca/rzach/rss.xml

Bleg: Philosophy of Language Anthologies

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:27am

I'm supposed to choose a text for my philosophy of language course next term. So far I've always used Martinich, but I'm getting bored with it.  Also, of the available options, it seems to be the most expensive one.  I've looked at Ludlow's collection, but that's maybe a bit too heavy (both literally and figuratively).  Also, he misspells Carnap's name.  I'm gravitating towards Byrne and Kölbel's Arguing about Language right now.  It's missing a few topics/pieces which I would have covered (notably, no speech acts, and no Putnam), but in return it covers a few things that aren't covered in Martinich and/or Ludlow (vagueness, metaphor, fictional discourse).  Also, it's got the highest percentage of female contributors, and the lowest price tag.  Any experiences? Advice?

Kurt Gödel Research Prize Fellowships

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:41am

The Kurt Gödel Society is proud to announce the commencement of the second round of the Kurt Gödel Research Prize Fellowships Program. The research fellowship prize program is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and will offer:

  • two Ph.D. (pre-doctoral) fellowships of EUR 100,000
  • two post-doctoral fellowships of EUR 100,000 and
  • one unrestricted fellowship of EUR 100,000

One International Board of Jurors will be in charge of evaluating the applications and determining up to twenty finalists whose papers will be published in a special issue of the Annals of Pure and Applied Logic, and another international Board of Jurors will be in charge of determining the winners. Both Boards will be chaired by Prof. Harvey Friedman, Ohio State University (USA).

Board of Jurors for Determining the Finalists

  • Jeremy AVIGAD, Carnegie Mellon University, (USA)
  • Lenore BLUM, Carnegie Mellon University, (USA)
  • Harvey FRIEDMAN, Ohio State University (USA) CHAIR
  • John HARRISON, Intel Corporation, (USA)
  • Kenneth KUNEN, University of Wisconsin, (USA)
  • Angus MACINTYRE, Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Society, (UK)
  • Hiroakira ONO, JAIST Research Center for Integrated Science, (JAPAN)
  • Pavel PUDLAK, Czech Academy of Sciences, (Czech Republic)
  • Michael RATHJEN, University of Leeds, (UK)
  • Frank STEPHAN, National University of Singapore, (SINGAPORE)
  • William TAIT, University of Chicago, (USA)
  • Simon THOMAS, Rutgers University, (USA)
  • Albert VISSER, University of Utrecht (NL)
  • Andreas WEIERMANN, Ghent University, (BELGIUM)
  • Boris ZILBER, University of Oxford, (UK)

Board of Jurors for Determining the Winners

  • Lev BEKLEMISHEV, Russian Academy of Sciences (RUS)
  • Harvey FRIEDMAN, Ohio State University (USA) CHAIR
  • Dov M. GABBAY, King's College London (UK)
  • Warren D. GOLDFARB, Harvard University (USA)
  • Howard Jerome KEISLER, University of Wisconsin (USA)

Goal and Criteria of Merit

The purpose of these fellowships is to support original research in, and areas surrounding, the foundations of mathematics. (See Scope below for more details.) These fellowships are intended to carry forward the legacy of Kurt Gödel, whose works exemplify deep insights and breakthrough discoveries in mathematical logic, with profound impact on the philosophy and foundations of mathematics. In pursuit of similar insights and discoveries, we adopt the following criteria of merit for evaluating Fellowship applications:

  1. Intellectual merit, scientific rigor and originality of the submitted
    paper and work plan. The paper and research plans should combine visionary
    thinking with academic and scientific excellence.
  2. Potential for significant contribution to basic fundamental issues of
    wide interest, and the likelihood for opening new, seminal lines of inquiry
    that bear on such issues.
  3. Impact of the Fellowship on the project and likelihood that the
    Fellowship will make the proposed new lines of research possible.
  4. The expectation that the proposed research will be successful.
  5. Qualifications of the applicants will be evaluated on the basis of all
    available information including CV, research paper, research plans, research
    accomplishments, and letters of recommendation (recommendation letters are not
    required for senior applications).

Winners' Model Projects:

http://fellowship.logic.at/2010/files/Bovykin_Project.pd
http://fellowship.logic.at/2010/files/Koellner_Project.pdf

Model Question

Scope

Original fellowship proposals in the areas of

  • set theory
  • recursion theory
  • proof theory/intuitionism
  • model theory
  • computer assisted reasoning
  • philosophy of mathematics

All fellowship proposals, regardless of subject area, will be judged according
to

  • the relevance and resemblance of the research (finished and proposed) to the great insights and originality of Kurt Gödel
  • its general interest and clarity of motivation
  • its rigorous scientific quality and depth.

Submission Instructions

The three categories of fellowships are specified as follows:

  • Ph.D.(pre-doctoral): being in the stage before finishing the thesis (or equivalent achievements)
  • Post-doctoral: being in the stage within 10 years after finishing the thesis (or equivalent achievements)
  • Unrestricted: also open to senior applicants

The submission must consist of:

  • one document A in PDF format containing
    • the CV
    • the project description
    • the recommendation letters
  • one document B in PDF format containing the article
  • one text abstract relating to B

Maximum allowed length of the abstract is 500 words. Document A containing the CV, the project description, and the recommendation letters must be prepared in the following way:

  • minimum font size: 10pt
  • paper size: A4
  • maximum length of the CV: 3 pages

The CV must contain the list of all/most important publications. The CV must clearly state to which  category the application belongs.

  • maximum length of project description: 4 pages. Project description should clearly state where and at which institution the
    applicant intends to carry out the project.
  • minimum 2 (two)/maximum 3 (three) 1-page recommendation letters, in case of applications belonging to the categories Ph.D.(pre-doctoral) and post-doctoral fellowships. (The recommendation letters should be scanned and included into the PDF document)

The submission must be in English.

The Board and the Program Chair reserve the right:

  • to consider only submissions with reasonable format
  • to reassign a submission to another category as applied for.

The applicant will be informed about the reasons for such a decision.

Submission Page

The EasyChair system is used for managing the submissions. For submitting a proposal please go to
http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=kgrpf10

Timeline

  • November 15, 2010. Submissions deadline
  • February 28, 2011. Jury decision on the papers for publication (at most 20)
  • March 1, 2011. Final versions due
  • March 6, 2011. Jury decision on winners due
  • April 28-30, 2011. Conference and the Award Ceremony
  • June-October, 2011. Commencement of the Fellowships

Web:http://fellowship.logic.at
E-mail contact: goedel-fellowship@logic.at

Postdoc at CMU

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 10/04/2010 - 11:29am

The Carnegie Mellon University Department of Philosophy invites applications for the Herbert Simon Fellowship in Scientific Philosophy. We are seeking applications from scholars working in logic or philosophy of mathematics. Any of the following areas are particularly welcome: proof theory, category theory, formal verification, automated reasoning, or history or philosophy of mathematics. The Fellowship is intended primarily for those who have recently received doctorates, including scholars with a continuing faculty appointment elsewhere. The Fellowship has a tenure of two years (non-renewable), with teaching duties of 2 courses/year, one of which should be a research seminar in the Fellow's specialty. Appointments of one year are possible for applicants with a continuing faculty appointment elsewhere. Residence in Pittsburgh is expected. Applications (including a statement of purpose, CV, at least one writing sample and two letters of reference) may be sent to: The Philosophy Department; Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh PA 15213. Attention: Simon Fellowship Committee. Electronic applications, preferably in pdf format enclosed as attachments, are welcome and indeed preferred. Send email to: phil-search@andrew.cmu.edu. The deadline for application is December 1, 2010.

Gender Differences in Philosophical Intuitions

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 09/28/2010 - 10:50am

Buckwalter and Stich just posted a very interesting survey of results concerning gender differences in answers given to philosophical thought experiments.  That there are such differences is one of the factors considered in explanations of the underrepresentation of women in philosophy -- if women have the "wrong" intuitions in these cases more often than men do, it might turn them off from pursuing philosophy.  Interestingly, the one case that figures in my classes that's discussed is Putnam's twin earth experiment. And here women actually have the "right" intuition more often than men do.

The paper's here and there's comment thread at Feminist Philosophers. Brian Leiter might also open a comment thread on the paper on his blog.

The paper also has data (some new) on the rate of representation of women in philosophy worth looking at. Here's the abstract:

In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the underrepresentation of women in academic philosophy. A full explanation of this troubling phenomenon is likely to be quite complex since there are, almost certainly, many factors that contribute to the gender disparity. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, though until now these phenomena have been largely invisible. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. We suspect that these differences could be playing an important role in shaping the demography of the profession. But at present this is only an hypothesis, since we have no evidence that bears directly on the causal relation between the gender gap in academic philosophy and the facts about intuition that we will recount. In future work, we plan to focus on that causal link. However, we believe that thefacts we report about gender differences in philosophical intuitions are both important and disturbing, and that philosophers (and others) should begin thinking about their implications both for philosophical pedagogy and for the methods that philosophers standardly use to support their theories. It is our hope that this paper will help to launch conversations on these issues both within the philosophical community and beyond.

Margaret J. Osler, 1942-2010

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 09/16/2010 - 2:53pm


My colleague and friend Maggie Osler died yesterday.  She was a wonderful person, and an admirable scholar of early modern science and natural philosophy, the Scientific Revolution, and especially on Boyle, Descartes, Gassendi, and Newton.

University of Calgary obituary

Serious Contender for Proof that P ≠ NP

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 4:13am

If you're here for the philosophy you might not have heard: a few days ago, Vinay Deolalikar of HP Labs has posted a draft paper containing a serious attempt to prove that P ? NP, one of the Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennium Problems.  The math/theory scene is all aflutter over it. This wiki page collects the current state of the discussion in various places, notably on Dick Lipton's blog Gödel's Lost Letter. It's a problem in computational complexity theory—the logic connection is that the proof uses a result due to Immerman and Vardi from finite model theory, viz., that over finite ordered structures, the relations expressible in first-order logic with a least fixed point operator FO(LFP) are exactly the polynomial-time computable ones.  Alas, the prevalent opinion now seems to be that the proof is probably not correct.

Carnap Workshop, Vienna, June 28 and 29

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 06/22/2010 - 8:26am

The Institute Vienna Circle is hosting a workshop on Carnap next week, June 28 and 29.  The program is here.

Two Assistant Professorships in Logic at Hannes Leitgeb's Group in Munich

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 9:05am

These two Assistant Professorships in philosophy have just been advertised
at LMU Munich (see below). The deadline for applications is July 2nd, 2010. (German language skills are not mandatory.) Soon also several postdoctoral and doctoral positions in philosophy (at the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy) will also be advertised.

(1) Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich is seeking applications for an
Assistant Professorship in Logic and Philosophy of Language
at the Chair for Logic and Philosophy of Language (Professor Hannes
Leitgeb) at the Faculty for Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study
of Religion. The position, which is to start from October 1st 2010, is for
three years with the possibility of extension. Technically, it is a
so-called 'Akademische Ratsstelle auf Zeit' in the Bavarian university
system, which means basically that one has the rights and perks of a civil
servant.

The appointee will be expected (i) to do research in logic and philosophy
of language, (ii) to teach five hours a week in these or in related areas,
and (iii) to contribute to the new Munich Center for Mathematical
Philosophy (MCMP) which is about to be founded at the LMU. The successful
candidate will have (iv) a PhD in philosophy or logic, and (v) teaching
experience in philosophy or logic.

The appointment will be made within the German A13 salary scheme. More
information on this position can be found at:

http://www.uni-muenchen.de/aktuelles/stellenangebote/wissenschaft/20100617151216.html


Women are currently underrepresented in the Faculty, therefore we
particularly welcome applications for this post from suitably qualified
female candidates. Given equal qualification, severely physically
challenged individuals will be preferred.


Applications (including CV, certificates, list of publications) should be
sent to

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft
Geschäftsstelle
Hauspost Fach 41
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München

E-Mail: alexander.nawrath@lrz.uni-muenchen.de

by July 2nd, 2010.
Contact for informal inquiries: Prof. Dr. Hannes Leitgeb

(2) Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich is seeking applications for an
Assistant Professorship in Mathematical Philosophy
at the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP) which will be
tied to the Chair in Logic and Philosophy of Language (Prof. Dr. Hannes
Leitgeb) at the Faculty for Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study
of Religion. The position, which is to start from October 1st 2010, is for
three years with the possibility of extension. Technically, it is a
so-called 'Akademische Ratsstelle auf Zeit' in the Bavarian university
system, which means basically that one has the rights and perks of a civil
servant.

The appointee will be expected (i) to do philosophical research assisted by
logical or mathematical methods, (ii) to teach five hours a week in areas
of philosophy in which logical or mathematical methods are applied, and
(iii) to take on management tasks in the new Munich Center for Mathematical
Philosophy. The successful candidate will have (iv) a PhD in philosophy or
logic, and (v) teaching experience in philosophy or logic.

The appointment will be made within the German A13 salary scheme.

More
information on this position can be found at:

http://www.uni-muenchen.de/aktuelles/stellenangebote/wissenschaft/20100617151904.html

Women are currently underrepresented in the Faculty, therefore we
particularly welcome applications for this post from suitably qualified
female candidates. Given equal qualification, severely physically
challenged individuals will be preferred.

Applications (including CV, certificates, list of publications) should be
sent to

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft
Geschäftsstelle
Hauspost Fach 41
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München

E-Mail: alexander.nawrath@lrz.uni-muenchen.de

by July 2nd, 2010.
Contact for informal inquiries: Prof. Dr. Hannes Leitgeb

LogBlog Has Moved!

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 8:42am

Two months ago, Blogger turned off FTP publishing on blogs, which meant I couldn't update LogBlog anymore.  It's taken a while, but the blog has now moved.  Well, I managed to import all the old posts into Drupal, the CMS we use at the University of Calgary and which generates the rest of my site.  I still need to fix the URLs, add archive pages, get the blogroll to display, etc., but at least I can post again.  Your feed reader should be automatically redirected to the new feed, but if it isn't, here's the URL:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/rzach/rss.xml

If you find any broken links, disappeared images, commenting weirdness, etc., do let me know!

If you see this, I probably don't have to tell you the new URL for the mainpag, but in any case, here it is:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/rzach/blog/

PM@100

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sun, 05/23/2010 - 10:05am

Here are my slides from my PM@100 talk.

Truth Values

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 04/01/2010 - 4:39pm

Rózsa Péter

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:48pm

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Rózsa Péter (1905-1977) was a Hungarian mathematician and early contributor to the theory of (primitive) recursive functions. She received her PhD in 1935 from (what is now) Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Her fellow student Laszlo Kálmár had introduced her a few years earlier to the then brand-new work of Gödel, and she proceeded to study the class of (primitive) recursive functions first clearly defined by Gödel in his 1931 incompleteness paper. In a number of articles in the 1930s, she laid the groundwork for the study of hierarchies of sub-recursive functions and clarified the notion of primitive recursive function. I'll just mention four of her contributions on the subject: In her paper, "Über den Zusammenhang der verschiedenen Begriffe der rekursiven Funktion" (Math. Ann., 1935) she showed that course-of-values recursion and nested recursion can be reduced to ordinary primitive recursion. In "Konstruktion nichtrekursiver Funktionen" (Math. Ann., 1935), Pétér simplified and expanded on Ackermann's work, and proved that there are multiply recursive but not-primitive recursive functions. In "Über die mehrfache Rekursion" (Math. Ann., 1937), she studied multiple recursion in more detail and showed that the hierarchy of k-recursive functions is proper. In "Zusammenhang der mehrfachen und transfiniten Rekursionen" (JSL, 1950), she proved the equivalence of k-fold recursion and transfinite recursion along ?k. Her early work on primitive recursive function theory is set out in her monograph, Rekursive Funktionen (1951), translated into English as Recursive Functions (1967). She also wrote a popular book on mathematics, Playing with Infinity, which was translated into 14 languages.

Pétér was barred from teaching in 1939 due to her Jewish heritage, but obtained positions at the Budapest Teacher's College in 1945 and at her alma mater in 1955. She was the first female mathematician to be elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She retired in 1976.

Women in Science (San Diego Supercomputer Center)
Biographies of Women Mathematicians (Agnes Scott College)
MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive

Philosophy of Mathematical Practice Online

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:32pm

If you have access to Oxford Scholarship Online, you can now read Mancosu's excellent collection The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice via the internets.

Contemporary philosophy of mathematics offers us an embarrassment of riches. But anyone familiar with this area will be aware of the need for new approaches that will pay closer attention to mathematical practice. This book provides a unified presentation of this new wave of work in philosophy of mathematics. This new approach is innovative in at least two ways. First, it holds that there are important novel characteristics of contemporary mathematics that are just as worthy of philosophical attention as the distinction between constructive and non constructive mathematics at the time of the foundational debates. Secondly, it holds that many topics that escape purely formal logical treatment — such as visualization, explanation, and understanding — can be nonetheless be subjected to philosophical analysis. The book comprises an introduction and eight sections. Each section consists of a short introduction outlining the general topic followed by a related research article. The eight topics selected represent a broad spectrum of contemporary philosophical reflection on different aspects of mathematical practice: visualization, diagrammatic reasoning and representational systems, mathematical explanation, purity of methods, mathematical concepts, philosophical relevance of category theory, philosophical aspects of computer science in mathematics, philosophical impact of recent developments in mathematical physics.

Robin Milner, 1934-2010

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 3:42pm

Robin Milner died on March 20. He was a leading theoretical computer scientist who developed the LCF theorem prover, the ML programming language, and introduced the ?-calculus. He was founding director of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh and then Professor of Computer Science at Cambridge. Milner was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the ACM, and winner of the Turing Award.

People Who Oscillate

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/08/2010 - 7:08am

From today's mini-AIR:

The Oscillating Humans Project, announced here, is searching for a living specimen - an exemplar - of an oscillating human.

DEFINITION: For purposes of the project, an Oscillating Human is someone who consistently, repeatedly, over many years, expresses opinions directly opposite to opinions he or she expressed earlier, always ignoring and/or denying the existence of copious, easily found clear documentation of the earlier opinions.

PURPOSE: The exemplary person, once identified, will serve as an example for teachers to use in logic classes. To minimize the chance of lawsuits, the exemplar must be a "public person", with (as stated above) for whom there is copious, easily found, clear documentation of years and years of oscillation.

If you know of an outstanding specimen, please send:

1. The name and a 20-word biographical sketch of the person.
2. Several URLs pointing to clear, unarguable documentation.

Send to: OSCILLATING HUMANS PROJECT: marca AT improbable.com

NOTE: This is an education project. It is NOT an exercise in naming people you don't like. No screeds, please.

Oscillating Humans Literature Review

Published research about this form of human oscillation may be scarce. One of the few apparently relevant items — judging it by its title, if not by its contents, is this British study:

"Oscillation of Human Performance as a Personality Measure," Michael A. Tainsh, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 35, no. 2, October 1972, pp. 677-8.

Truly pertinent citations will be welcomed.

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