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President's Speech ​at the Inauguration of the RMS Office

posted Mar 13, 2015, 9:42 PM by RMS Administrator   [ updated Mar 13, 2015, 9:43 PM ]

President's Speech ​at the Inauguration of the RMS Office
(The National College, Trichy, Jan 19, 2015)

Today our dreams of the past 30 years have become a reality. The Ramanujan Mathematical Society (RMS), after 30 years, has found a home, a place, it can call as its own. RMS was founded in this city 30 years ago. Now it has found its home also in the same city. Almost like a young man, who wanders for 30 years, and comes back to his home town, to establish his home.

There was some discussion of developing the RMS office, at a metropolitan place. But there was an equally compelling argument that it should develop at a smaller, peaceful place, where people could come for a visit for an extended period. The 
financial considerations were also important. Anyway, the latter argument has won, in a very beautiful way!

This development has come about mainly because of two reasons. First, Prof. Balakrishnan, a veteran of RMS, had served as the Head of Department of Mathematics at the National College, and left good vibrations about mathematics and about himself at this place. Secondly, Hon. Padma Vibhusan Dr. V. Krishnamurthy, Mr. Raghunathan, the Secretary, and Dr. Anbarasu, the Principal of the National College, responded generously. Indeed their offer is whole-hearted and very generous.

I am reminded of  the benevolent King Raghu, the Founder of the Lineage in which Lord Rama was born, as depicted by the great poet Kalidas. Raghu was not only wholeheartedly generous, but would willingly give to the right person more than his or her desire.

Janasya Saaketa-Nivaasinastou, Dwaawapybhootaam Abhinandya-sattwou |
Guru-pradeyaa-adhik-nispruhorthi, nruporthikaamaad-adhika-pradashcha ||

We not only got the building, but the National College also renovated it, re-painted it, and is putting appropriate furniture, and computers.

I assure Hon V. Krishnamurthy,   Secretary Raghunathan, and Dr. Anbarasu that RMS will work hard to be worthy of this generosity of yours, and will give you back more than what you may be thinking.

Hon V. Krishnamurthy, Dr.  Anbarasu, and Secretary Raghunathan, have not taken Mathematics as a profession. But they are social leaders, with savvy about social organisations like RMS, and what RMS can possibly deliver. They know how to motivate us and use our   knowledge and expertise for the good of the society. They have asked us to develop an integrated master's level programme in Mathematics. We certainly have this expertise, and we would like to deliver on this point. Give us  about one year.

The National College also wants us to organise regional programmes for undergraduate teachers' training, and for master's level research scholars, and post-docs. RMS, in collaboration with the Academy of Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, has already started such programmes, all over India. In the last two years, we conducted 20 such programmes all over India. It will be our pleasure  to organise such programmes at the National College in a regular manner. Let me add, we have already started such programmes vigorously in a sustained manner, in Pune, Maharashtra, where I come from. Such sustained programmes seem to be developing in Bangalore. We plan to make the National College as its prime centre for conducting such programmes in Tamilnadu. 

Let me also tell Dr. V.Krihsnamurthy and his colleagues that RMS has planned to shift its Library from Bhaskaracharya Pratishthan in Pune, which  is, in fact, my place of work. Since the RMS Office will be here, we would like to shift the library here. The Library gets some international  journals of Mathematics in exchange. It  will be inspirational to have such library  for the students of the National College, and Mathematics researchers in and around the city.

RMS publishes India's major journal of Mathematics, namely JRMS, which has international stature. JRMS publishes long papers, which is useful for the high-end research community. RMS wishes to start a journal which will publish shorter papers. It will be useful for the University and College faculties.

This brings me to a topic which we experience all the time, but we seldom express it.
There is not so invisible fault-line between researchers and teachers in the mathematical community all over  the world. In India, these fault-lines are more visible for historical reasons. 

In the British Raj, there was hardly any research coming out of India in Mathematics.
Individual extreme exceptions such as Ramanujan, Pillai, Minakshisundram, Hans Raj Gupta, notwithstanding. This was changed in 1950s-1970s when India developed major research institutes. 

It rapidly changed the picture. It was easy to develop Mathematics, as our requirements are few.  Some spectacular research in Mathematics came from these research institutes. But this development took place outside the traditional universities and colleges.  The University and College faculty carried heavy teaching loads as before. There was no overall research-supporting atmosphere, conducive to creative work at the Universities and colleges. Until late 70s, very  few university/college faculty, were engaged in active research. This situation is changing, but we consciously need to accelerate it.

Our recogniation-awards criteria in the mathematical community are based mainly on research only. There is no level-playing field between the faculties at the research institutes, and the rest of the mathematical community.

The situation is rapidly changing, and   the difference between researchers and teachers  is narrowing down. Good research needs good teaching, and is based on the  knowledge of the fundamentals of the subject. Likewise, good, inspired, teaching
can come only by active involvement in research.

Also both need good administrative set up. Administration, teaching, and research should effectively complement each other, if we wish to raise the level of mathematical culture of the whole society.

Keeping this in mind,  RMS is thinking of  adding its bit to the recognition and awards system in the mathematical community. We wish to start  recognising the Fellows of RMS (FRMS), whose criteria are based on

i) Significant Contributions to RMS, and its activities,

ii) Significant Contributions to the mathematical community in India,
for example, excellent teaching, guiding undergraduate -masters-M. Phil-doctoral research, organisational work, etc,

iii) Significant Contributions to mathematical research.

I express my sincere desire that, as RMS acquires it own home, it will also cater more and more to all segments of  the mathematical community. We seek co-operation, guidance, and blessings of people like Hon Dr. V. Krishnamurthy, Anbarasu, and Raghunathan.


posted Jul 8, 2014, 6:01 PM by RMS Administrator   [ updated Jul 8, 2014, 6:05 PM ]

Dear Friends,

​Last Sunday (July 6th 2014), I heard a wonderful lecture by Prof. Balasubramanian, the well-known number-theorist from Chennai, on the "Twin Prime Conjecture".

As you may know, the original conjecture is easily stated; there are infinite prime pairs of the form (n, n+2), for example, (3, 5), (5,7), (11, 13), ​(29, 31) ....

​A breakthrough in 2013 by Yitang Zhang, was: Let p_n denote the n-th prime. There exists a constant N (approx 7 x 10^7) such that for  infinitely many n,  we have p_{n+1}
 ​ - p_n is less than N.

Then there was a feverish activity during the last year to reduce N, carried out on the internet 
by several mathematicians, and the present value of N is 246. It is believed that the present technique may reduce N = 6.​

​Prof. Balasubramanian gave a wonderful survey, essentially starting from the definition of a prime! He pointed out well the differences between the sophisticated analytic techniques involving the Riemann's zeta-function,  and the elementary combinatorial techniques, the "sieve method"

The lecture was full of mathematical, philosophical, and sociological insights, starting from Euclid, and   Eratoshthenes, through
​ ​
 Euler, Gauss, Riemann, Hardy, Brun, ...., Zitang.

By the way, Zhang, an immigrant from China,  in 2013, was  a 58-year old,   undergraduate teacher in a small college in  the US.

Prof. Balasubramanian  talked about the power of the internet, which transmitted the information about 
any advance, with 
a fantastic speed to the mathematical community all over the world. So many mathematicians could make
 ​ ​
a contribution.

So probably, no single person may get the "whole" credit! 
But what does it matter? The mathematics has made advance any way!!

This does raise many issues about individual originality issues, priority issues, "patent" issues (which are mostly absent in the mathematical community, but are prevalent in other areas of science like Chemistry)

We are living in very interesting times.

Ravi Kulkarni

Kudos to Prof. Vijay Amabatkumar

posted Jul 8, 2014, 5:57 PM by RMS Administrator   [ updated Sep 5, 2014, 7:59 PM ]

Dear RMS members,

In my previous e-mail, I have informed you about the RMS initiative in starting the Regional Programmes. Under this rubric, we have started the UG Teachers Enrichment prorgammes (UGTEs). You may read about these programmes on the RMS web-site. 

In addition, the ex-RMS President Prof. Phoolan Prasad has started joint programmes with Aziz Premji University for high school teachers. You may read about these programmes 
also on the RMS web-site. 

Prof. Ambat Vijayakumar is one of the prime movers in this direction.

Something unusual about Prof. Vijayakumar in our present world: He politely declined the honorarium we sent to him for his work! He said that his work is simply his "social commitment to enhance the potential and interest of the fellow teachers, esp from schools".

The sentiment expressed by Prof. Vijatakumar is admirable! It reminded me of an old Sanskrit stanza, I learnt in my school-days:

"Na Chor-haaryam, na cha Raaja-haaryam, Na Bhraatru-bhaajyam, Na cha bhaar-kaari,
 Vyaye krute vardhata-eva-nityam, Vidyaa-dhanam sarva-dhanaat pradhaanam!"

[[No thief can steal it, No authority can snatch it, No sibling can  divide it,  Nor is it heavy to carry,

The more one shares it, The more it expands, Knowledge (Vidyaa) is indeed the best among all wealths!

--- And Mathematics is indeed among the best parts of this Vidyaa!!]]

Kudos to Prof. Vijayakumar!!


posted May 29, 2013, 2:15 AM by RMS Administrator   [ updated Jul 8, 2014, 5:47 PM ]

Dear RMS-Friends,

Since April 16, 2013, when I formally became the President, I have devoted some time to understanding the financial state of the RMS. I wish to take all of you into confidence, and explain to you the financial stateof RMS as I understand it, set the realistic goals for RMS we can hope to achieve in the foreseeable future,  and articulate the means to achieve them.

Perhaps this is the first time when a President of any mathematical society in India is writing such an e-mail! Since we are all mathematicians, we just like to talk about mathematics. But as an institution, we should also look for the financial sustainability, and further progress, of our institution so that we can keep talking about mathematics in a more vigorous way!!

There are no blue-prints in what follows. I feel, I still do not have a complete information. If some vital point is missing, please let me know. I have consulted with some colleagues  before writing this e-mail. But let us collectively understand the broad situation, and plan on taking some steps.

RMS came into existence in 1985. Its membership is mainly College and University Math faculty and students. Our aim is to promote higher mathematics, through
research, teaching, and general dissemination of mathematics, in all segments of Indian society. 

According to the bye-law 25 c), RMS is expressly a not for profit organisation. 


Our biggest resource is the very high quality of our membership. Many of our members are in the list of  the international and national "who is who" in Mathematics. There are some very distinguished members of RMS from abroad, like Prof.s John Coates, D. Eisenbud,  M. Waldschmidt, ....and many members   of Indian origin settled abroad. Many members of the national academies, some FRSs, some coming close to winning, or have already won, the  Fields Medals, and Abel Prizes, and many distinguished award-winners, like Swarnajayanti and Bhatanagar awards;
and, irrespective of any accolades, most of us have attained professional distinction in some ways in mathematics. 

Likewise, our Presidents as well as the EC-members are men and women of professional distinction. 
This is a big plus. It earns us respect. Yet it is also a minus in some ways on the institutional level, as we have yet to build our  financial resources. 

RMS has been in existence for over 28 years. As of 31st March, 2012, it has accumulated a corpus of about Rs. 67 lakhs, which is a small sum, in my opinion.  As yet we have no office, and irrespective of the office, no paid staff.  

Just one example: if we have to bring out some quality publication, do we expect the Volume Editor also to be  a proof-reader? 
Similarly, should RMS pay for travel of EC-members for EC-meetings? Since NBHM has decided not to  pay for travel for EC-members, this has become a serious matter for discussion.
I feel that the  RMS-EC, in particular the President, may be expected to bring about enough revenues on an annual basis, so that such incidentals can be, and should be, taken care of, so that we can save ourselves from unnecessary headaches and un-pleasantness. 

RMS has never seriously addressed such issues.

Our corpus (Rs 67 lakhs in the last 28 years) is mainly built from the membership fees, publications JRMS and Lecture Notes Series, and some sporadic donations from well-wishers.

Besides publications, RMS's main activity is the one, four-day, annual conference. Its expenses are mostly paid  by an educational institution which takes responsibility for hosting the conference, and the funding agencies like NBHM and DST, which may pay for the fooding, accomodation, and travel/local hospitality for the plenary speakers and other invited guests. 

Whether one should charge  registration fees for annual conferences, there is no consensus in the RMS organising committee, although both the Secretary and I do not feel that we should charge registration fees, for that will be possibly a major consideration for many participants whether to attend the conference at all.

The annual conference costs very little to RMS. The host institutions are fairly generous because of the immense respect in which they hold the  RMS. But in turn, RMS exercises very little "control" on what we do. We need to do a lot of correspondence before we can accomplish anything of substance.

A striking feature in the mathematical societies in the west is  the enormous number of activities they perform each year. The American Mathematical Society (AMS), for
example,  besides an annual meeting, organises eight regional meetings per year. It has a large office in Providence, in the state of Rhode Island. (Providence is much less expensive than major metropolitan cities like New York.)  AMS has  a paid, contractual,  position of Executive Director with his/her fairly big staff. The Executive Director himself/herself is a mathematician of distinction. Besides the membership fees, it also builds its finances through its many publication series, its various "projects" with national and private
funding agencies, and it also gets lots of donations from organisations and individuals. 
I hope, you agree, that we have a long way to go! India may be emerging as an economic power on the international scene, but RMS is still operating with a mind-set of way back in the early or mid-20th century!!

I propose: let us formulate the goal of acquiring an office for RMS and some paid staff, in a foreseeable future.

The veterans of RMS tell me that during the past 28 years of existence, this issue has come up from time to time, from the very beginning. In fact, the "Building Fund" was established to which some people have already made some contributions. Some proposals were also there.
But somehow .....  

I wish to make a special note that RMS does have some dedicated members who have fully dedicated their energies for bringing RMS to the present stage. 

For instance, Prof. Sampathkumar has essentially acted as the "Executive Director" without pay, all these years! For over a decade he has given half of his house
(about six rooms) for use for JRMS and RMS-LNSM. As a "Managing Editor" of these publication series he does a lot of work of keeping track of manuscripts submitted for publication, keeping the record of referee correspondence (the referees are decided by the editors), applying for grants, seeking support, keeping all the financial records etc. It costs nothing to RMS. It is a labor of love for Prof. Sampathkumar. He also made a substantial donation  to the Buidling Fund of RMS, mentioned above.

Similar work has been done by Prof. Balakrishnan of keeping many accurate records   of RMS, editing News-Letter for a number of years, writing bye-laws and keeping a record of their many modifications through many years etc.

Throughout the members of the EC have worked without any   "sitting fees", often paying for travel and other incidentals from their own pocket, often not charging even for their travel to attend the EC-meetings, although the bye-law 14, v) allows for second class AC, sleeper year travel for the EC-meetings! The bye-law itself has become archaic in the 21-st century, in my opinion!!

Through such  services, these people  have saved lot of expense to RMS, and   contributed to building its present corpus.  

Prof. Sampathkumar and Balakrishnan. mentioned above,  are getting senior in age, so we need to find their replacements. In this process, we need to keep in mind the financial aspects indicated above.

Please let me know, if any of you have any suggestions.

For improving the financial state of RMS, and increasing its activities, I wish to  mention my current thoughts. 

The two aspects are complementary. Without increasing the activities we are not going to improve our finances, and conversely!

In my view, if we start conducting  regional meetings, and start School/UG/PG seminar activities, it  will substantially increase our activities. In addition, I list three ways below to increase our finances.

0) Regional Meetings: I have already written in my first e-mail  to all of you about RMS regional chapters. One expected contribution by the regional chapters is to arrange at
least one regional meeting per year. This single step, if supported by all of you, will substantially increase our activities.

Actually the idea is not new. It is already mentioned in 1985-bye-law 7), c), but not implemented so far!

May I suggest that we have at least 4 regional meetings next year?

The regional chapters may also start school/UG/PG seminar activities appropriate to the region.

I request all of you to take the idea seriously and send to us some proposals  for regional meetings.

1) Membership Fees: The 1985-bye-law 10, ii) mentions six types of memberships, in addition to "patrons" mentioned in bye-law 13, iii): 

Patrons, Donor Members, Annual Individual Member, Institutional Member, Life Member, Long-term Member, and Student Member. 

The bye-laws do not explain the rationale behind "patrons". But  a patron does not pay any  membership fees, has no
voting rights, and cannot serve on the Executive Committee.

In the future I wish to see the term "Patron" used for a substantial financial benefactor of RMS.

Except for "life members",  RMS probably had no other five types of members mentioned in the bye-laws, in any substantial number.

I wish to change this situation. Also the membership dues mentioned in 1985 need to be changed considering the present economy. I shall soon
send to all of you a bye-law amendment regarding the various memberships, 

I am also keen on admitting student members, so as to systematically maintain the future health of  RMS, and the mathematics profession in India.

These changes are expected to    increase substantially both our membership and our finances.

2) Publications:
 I shall report to you in detail about the current publication activities of RMS, in my "State of the RMS"-address at the June 2013 conference. 

Briefly, at present, we have four publication series: the Journal (JRMS), the Lecture Notes Series (LNSM), News-Letter (NL), and Little Treasures of Mathematics (LTM).

Please see the RMS web-site for some information about these series. Just google the "Ramanujan Mathematical Society". 

The present corpus is largely built from the revenues generated by JRMS and LNSM. 
The NL, of course, is not supposed to be a source of revenue. In addition to providing news, its editor, Prof. Ponnusamy,  has also started publishing valuable expository research articles at the UG/PG level. We are thinking of whether we should extend this latter activity and start a new journal at the UG/PG level. 

Finally, LTM is bringing in some revenue. We wish to increase its activity and scope. 
The Secretary Prof. Jugal Verma, also has a more ambitious plan of starting something like a "Bulletin" for expository articles at the research level. 

Obviously, if we publish more quality material at appropriate levels, our revenues will increase, and the Society will get more recognition. 

3) Donations, and Project-based Support: RMS has gotten some voluntary, un-saught for, donations in the past.

We have three named plenary lectures at each annual conference, coming from the financial support of the families or friends of the named people, Prof.s M. N. Gopalan, W. H. Abdi, and C. S. Venkataraman.

I recently came to know, that Prof.S Bhanumurthy and S. Bhargava were "Donor Members". 

In recent years, if I remember correctly, Prof. Manjual Bhargava of Princeton University, USA, got a Clay Foundation award  of $10,000,
(approxmately Rs 5 lakhs). He donated the whole amount  to RMS.  He is a young man, often mentioned in connection of a Fields Medal, and one of our well-wishers.

Similarly last year the brothers and sisters offered Rs 5 lakhs to RMS in the memory of their of brother Prof. S. K. Lakshman Rao, a  distinguished mathematician and scholar.
To my knowledge, these and any such donations have come completely voluntarily. In fact donors come to our doors, and urge us to accept their donations!

There has been no conscious effort on the part of the past Presidents and Secretaries to seek donations from generous  corporations or  individuals, explaining to them the worthy activities of the RMS. It is  just not in the psyche!


A largely un-tapped resource, in my opinion, is the possible donations from mathematicians  of Indian origin from abroad.


I have also suggested two years ago at the RMS annual conference, that many of us, with a secure financial future, in the foreseeable future should donate 1/2% of our anuual income for a specific project of RMS, like having an RMS-office for example, or support JRMS. LNSN, NL, LTM,...


Finally I mention a lot of project-based support from the national funding agencies like NBHM and DST. In terms of what we have gotten in the past, this support has been very substantial. But considering that RMS performs a major national activity in higher mathematics, in my opinion, the support from these agencies is not commensurate to what we do, or would do if the adequate support is assured. 

Perhaps we have not properly explained our case to them.


Let us articulate our needs clearly. Let the funding agencies, wealthy corporations and individuals with a feel for the importance of mathematics, and we ourselves,  help ourselves to become a leading mathematical society in the world.

Ravi S. Kulkarni, 
President, RMS

Message from the President

posted May 8, 2013, 5:47 AM by RMS Administrator   [ updated Jul 8, 2014, 5:46 PM ]

Dear RMS-Friend,

My heartfelt gratitude for electing  Prof.S Kumaresan, Srinivas Rao, M. Dutta, and me with almost 3:1 margin, giving us the  opportunity to serve on the EC of RMS.

Let us all work together to reach the new heights for RMS!

I am inviting Prof.s Kalyan Sinha, T.  Amarnath, and Sanjeev Aggarwal to continue contributing   to RMS, in any of the many   ways they may choose -- in the (regional) conferences, in the publication activities, in the (regional) undergraduate and high school mathematics programmes, etc.  

An immediate concern is the organisation of the annual RMS conference.      After reviewing the earlier correspondence,  we have decided to hold the annual conference
at the Reva Institute of Technology, Bangalore. The conference dates are: June 27-June 30, 2013.   Prof. M. S. Raghunathan, the past President, is organising the academic programme.


Another major concern is the organisation of a joint meeting of the  RMS and American Mathematical Society, like the one we had in 2003 in Bangalore.

Let us all work together on this major event.

Regional Chapters:

Let me briefly elaborate on  the statement on the focus of my presidency, which I sent to you earlier.

The level of mathematics in a society is a measure of vibrancy of its intellectual culture.  Besides professional mathematicians, many people - physicists, chemists, engineers, statisticians, lawyers, in recent years biological scientists and some doctors, people from mathematical finance, ...., have started applying mathematics in a big way. In my opinion, mathematics is   a science in itself; our "data"  or more mental than physical. Moreover it is not just a "language" of science, but it is also a science of formulating  theories for other sciences.

So RMS, while primarily maintaining its "latest math research"-focus, should remain open to  influences from other sciences, and also promote mathematics at all levels. Moreover, RMS should be an advocacy group   for the college/university faculty and students, who mainly constitute our membership. We should make conscious efforts to develop networking among all of us, and communicate mathematics to each other at many levels.

Unfortunately, so far our activity has been restricted to one annual conference. We wish to extend this considerably. We hope to  work out soon a broad outline  and start some pilot projects.

In short: We wish to start regional RMS-chapters. There is a strong opinion that such chapters may be formed by developing a network of many mathematical societies in India. But other groups of mathematicians may consider of forming a chapter too. We have still to flesh out many formal details.

The responsibility of each chapter will be: 

i) to
organise at least one annual conference for the math community in the region

ii) to organise the undergraduate math seminar activity for the university/college faculty and students in the colleges  in the region.

We fore-see about 8 to 10 "regions" in India. The leaders in each region will decide on the way they wish to develop  mathematics in the region, with full knowledge of how mathematics is developing in India and the world, but with little interference from the "top".

The cost for a conference under i) should be considerably lower than the RMS national annual conference. We expect that  the regional organisers will get partial funding from the institutions in the region. If the programme works out, RMS will try to get a grant from a national funding agency of about Rs 1 to 2 lakhs per conference.

The main advantage of regional chapters will be to increase the network of mathematicians in India, and provide opportunities to present their researches. This will be especially beneficial for our junior colleagues. We have all experienced that in one, annual, four-day national conference there is too much pressure on "paper-presentation"-sessions, and most people after attending 4-5 major lectures do not have energy to attend the "paper-presentation"-sessions.

As for ii), we are thinking of instituting student memberships.

Let us try to concentrate on the sincere and interested undergraduates  who are developing some love for mathematics. Each college has 10/15 such students. Let us encourage them  to start seminar activities in mathematics, in their colleges and universities. Some colleges may also come together
and start the activities. The initiative should come from the students themselves. They should
start this activity under the guidance of their teachers and the fellow-students doing  the post-graduate studies. (This should be something like, parents arranging a marriage, but kids thinking that they are entering into a love-marriage!) They should  hold about 10 such seminars every year.

If they need to invite some special speakers, assistance  will be provided by the leaders in the regional chapter as well as by the national body. We intend to   form a national group of able enthusiastic RMS-members who will be able to act as resource persons for this activity. RMS will be happy to provide for the travel and some local hospitality of the resource persons.

One largely un-tapped resource, (which I am realising as I am getting older!), is the pool of senior excellent teachers who have retired from their colleges and universities. We invite them to contribute to both i) and ii).

We would like to start this activity in collaboration with the many regional mathematical societies. On a positive note, I should mention that the Marathwada Mathematical Society is about to start such an activity, and RMS will collaborate in the effort.

I fondly remember a poem in praise of  "Vidyaa-devi", that is "Goddess of Knowledge" (with a capital "K"):

"O Vidyaa-devi, strange  is thy treasure. A thief cannot steal it, a state cannot tax it, brethren cannot divide it, and it  is so light to carry! The more one spends it, the more it increases!!"

Let us all   remember that mathematics is the  top-most, communicable,  part of this Vidyaa!! Let us develop a network in the mathematical community starting from the undergraduates, and spread the message of mathematics!

Do let me know your suggestions regarding the idea of regional RMS-chapters.

With best regards,

Ravi Kulkarni

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