MCSP Department News
Congratulations to the two Roanoke College teams in the 2012 Mathematical Contest in Modeling! The team of Ed Hrinya and Lizzi Ciskowski received a Meritorious rating, placing them in the top 2% of the 3697 teams entered from 16 different countries. The team of Katie Thornton, Kayla Klingensmith and Gabe Giersch received an Honorable Mention, placing in the top 20% of entries. This is the best two-team performance in the state of Virginia, matched regionally only by Duke!
Lizzi Ciskowski and Ed Hrinya
Gabe Giersch, Kayla K, and Katie Thornton
Congratulations to Ed Hrinya, Bonnie Gumpman and Michael Kluge for their outstanding performance in the 2011 Mathematical Contest in Modeling! They received a Finalist rating for their design of an innovative half-pipe snowboarding course. Of the 2775 teams entered from around the world, only 8 teams received higher ratings. Top 10 in the world is some big air!
The MCSP Conversation Series features talks by Roanoke College faculty, students, graduates and invited speakers from other colleges. Brief summaries of selected past talks can be found here. The schedule for all talks is maintained here. Among the outside speakers in 2009-10 were Bud Brown of Virginia Tech, Elvis the Calculus Dog, and two dads of Roanoke College math majors!
Bud Brown, Cryptography Bill Franz, Physics of Sports Elvis, Calculus of Fetching
Roanoke College students Mark Lucas, Amanda Coughlin and Matthew Browning attended MathFest in Portland, Oregon in August, 2009. MathFest is a national meeting of the MAA (Mathematical Association of America). Mark and Amanda gave talks at the meeting, Mark speaking on combinatorial proofs and Amanda on PGA golf statistics.
2006 Summer Scholars Scotty Smith, Jessica Young, Hampton Smith, Drew Fleming, David Myer and Jake Bennett share their summer research experiences. See descriptions.
Physics majors David Guynn '13 and Greg Wise '15, and Math major April Saul '13 presented research at the Roanoke College Showcase.
David's poster "The Influence of Environment on Galaxy Evolution Along Supercluster Filaments" and Greg's poster "The Physics of Microscopy and Actin Filaments" were shown. April discussed "Chaotic Dynamics in the Heart."
The next day, RC students swept first place prizes at the MAA student competitions in Maryland, winning Math Jeopardy and the Radical Dash. Pictured are Jon Marino '14, Heather Cook '14, Morgan Elston '15, Jared Meadows '13, Reem Zeidan '15.
Congratulations to the class of 2013!Katie Thornton (left), a Math minor, was Senior Scholar in her two majors Economics and International Relations and will attend graduate school in Statistics. Ed Hrinya was Senior Scholar in his two majors of Physics and Philosophy. Phi Beta Kappa inductees include Anne Kyner, a double major in Math and Physics; April Saul, the Senior Scholar in Math; and Katie and Ed. Other MCSP award winners include T.J. Kemper, Senior Scholar in Computer Science, Jimmy Riggs, a Math major and future teacher doing his student teaching in China, and David Guynn, winner of the first Frank Munley Physics Award. Katie, Ed, and April tied for Salutatorian and Math minor Jeremy Johnson was Valedictorian.
Professor Jan Minton is co-coordinator of the Roanoke Valley Reef.
This project combined beautiful crochet work from over 200 contributors with the mathematics of hyperbolic geometry and the ecology of coral reefs. The exhibit was on display in Olin Gallery through the first week of March and attracted thousands of visitors. Biology's Darwin Days, Chemistry's Fisher lecture and various biology and creative writing classes all connected to the Reef to create a college-wide series of events that also involved the community. Link here to the Roanoke Valley Reef web site.
Physics professors Dr. Matt Fleenor and Dr. Rama Balasubramanian are enjoying their sabbaticals . Dr. Bala has continued her nanotube research and spoke on "Investigations on the role of nanocatalysts in the formation of nanotubes" in Austin, Texas. She also attended a meeting on STEM education in Kansas City. Dr. Fleenor spoke at the NRAO Astronomy meeting on "How multiwavelength datasets aid in galaxy evolution studies" and co-authored a published article. MCSP will be glad to welcome back Drs. Bala and Fleenor after productive semesters.
Dr. Roland Minton's popular press book Golf By the Numbers was published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Dr. Minton tries to bring Moneyball to golf with this analysis of golf statistics and various applications of mathematics to golf. The PGA Tour collects data on every shot taken, with distances measured to the inch. Dr. Minton used this data to develop rating systems for golfers for overall performance and individual categories such as putting and driving. Other topics include the role of luck in putting, and course strategies.
The annual student celebration of Pi Day (3/14) was a smashing success! The day opened with media coverage from the local NBC affiliate. Teams of students then participated in a "Pi-athlon" of mathematical events, such as solving a Sudoku with only 18 clues (given, of course, by the first 18 digits of pi). The cafeteria served chicken pot pie for lunch. Then came the pie-ing of professors, students, and our man Chaplain Henrickson, who brought a special clean-up crew! Proceeds of the pie-ing go to charity. The day's penultimate event was an entertaining talk by Dr. Taylor on "Magic, Mathemagic, and Mathematics."
MCSP faculty are supervising student summer 2013 research projects. We are committed to individual instruction and research, and have several excellent student research projects this summer. Computer scientists Dr. Durell Bouchard and Dr. Anil Shende will supervise multiple projects such as robotic mapping and the creation of Android apps. Physicist Dr. Dan Robb will supervise computational modeling of a region of the brain associated with respiratory regulation. Mathematician Dr. Karin Saoub will supervise research on the graph-theoretical properties of social networks.
Congratulations to Dr. Dave Taylor, winner of the 2012 Roanoke College Exemplary Teaching Award!
Dr. Taylor is known for his upbeat style, enthusiasm, and ability to convey the fun in mathematics. He teaches INQ 240, INQ 300, and a variety of mathematics courses. He designed a popular May term course on the Mathematics of Games and Gambling, a topic on which he hopes to write a book on in the near future. Dr. Taylor is the fourth member of the department to earn this honor. The MCSP department gives you outstanding courses from outstanding faculty!
Paul Vines was co-valedictorian of the class of 2012! Congratulations to Paul and all of our graduates!
Paul was a Computer Science and biology major, math minor and Honors student who did a four-year URAP project in physics. He did summer research projects in physics at George Washington and mathematical biology at Virginia Tech, and will attend the University of Washington in Computational Molecular Biology. Paul's valedictory address was punctuated by a spectacular dismount, a full somersault with a twist. He stuck the landing.
Dr. Jane Ingram, who founded the computer science program, has retired after 34 years at Roanoke.
Dr. Ingram taught computer science and mathematics courses, has run the computer science program and was chair of MCSP for 8 years. She guided computer science from a joint major with statistics to a program with two majors, cited for excellence by the Princeton Review. The department started an award for outstanding computer science students, the Jane Ingram Award. Paul Vines, the first student honored with the award, is pictured with Dr. Ingram at the awards ceremony.
Sarah Witt '12 was named the 2012 Marjorie Berkley Award winner as top female student-athlete in the ODAC conference!
Sarah majored in mathematics with a statistics concentration, and was an Honors student. She will attend graduate school at the University of Kentucky in statistics. She did summer research in math. Her analysis of Facebook networks was presented at a national math meeting. As track captain, she won conference championships in 100m and 400m hurdles and the 4x400 relay. Link to an article on Sarah here.
Professor Jan Minton is co-coordinator of the Roanoke Valley Reef. This project is a collaboration with Olin Hall Galleries and people in the Roanoke Valley. The Roanoke Valley Reef is a satellite reef of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, launched by the Institute for Figuring. If you can crochet, you can contribute. If you have taken Calculus 2, you have seen hyperbolic paraboloids, which many of the crocheted surfaces form. Link here to the Roanoke Valley Reef web site.
Our Pi Day (March 14) celebration featured a Pi-athlon contest and a Pie-ing Professors and Students melee. The Pi-athlon is a team event where competitors earn points by performing tasks such as Sudoku and reciting digits of pi. Winning teams were Sarah Witt / Jimmy Riggs / Peyton Lambert and Heather Cook / Shannon Kelley / Allison True. Cool Whip "pies" were purchased, with proceeds going to charity. You can link here for more information.
Dr. Richard Grant has been named Director of Experiential Learning, heading up the innovative Pathways program at Roanoke College. Pathways will enhance student activities in all areas of the college, focusing on various aspects of experiential learning. The resources and attention being committed to student achievement help make this a great time to be a student at Roanoke College! Read about Dr. Grant and the Pathways program at this link.
Congratulations to the two Roanoke College teams in the 2012 Mathematical Contest in Modeling!
The team of Ed Hrinya and Lizzi Ciskowski received a Meritorious rating, placing them in the top 2% of the 3697 teams entered from 16 different countries. The team of Katie Thornton, Kayla Klingensmith and Gabe Giersch received an Honorable Mention, placing in the top 20% of entries. This is the best two-team performance in the state of Virginia, matched regionally only by Duke!
MCSP is on the air! Dr. Roland Minton is quoted in an NPR piece on mathematics and sports. Only a Game, from NPR's WBUR in Boston, reported on the mathematics and sports sessions at the Joint Mathematics Meetings held in Boston January 4-7. Link to a transcript and podcast here.
Dr. Adam Childers, a statistics professor at Roanoke College, has written about his love of mathematics and running in a newsletter published by the Mathematical Association of America. Dr. Childers finds important similarities in the challenging simplicity of both running and mathematics in his essay. His insight is borne out at Roanoke College, where top runners are often found in the MCSP department. Link to Adam's essay
Roanoke College hosted FEMMES (Females Excelling More at Mathematics, Engineering and Science) on February 18. Mathematics major Lindsay Van Leir and mathematics minor Charlotte Fraser founded the organization, and mathematics major Colleen Hayes organized this year's event. The 4th grade girls attended workshops in the sciences and math, networked, and had a great time. Link to FEMMES web site.
Paul Vines '12, a computer science and biology major, participated in a prestigious REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Virginia Tech in the summer of 2011. Paul worked with a group in the Modeling and Simulation in Systems Biology summer program on a simulation of iron metabolism in breast epithelial cells. Their work suggests that disruptions of the iron regulatory system may play a role in cancer development. Paul presented his work in a poster session at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Boston.
Sarah Witt '12, a mathematics major, presented "Graph Theory and Social Networking" at MathFest, a national mathematics meeting in Lexington, Kentucky. Sarah worked with Dr. Saoub during the summer, funded by a William Carroll research grant. They looked at various graph statistics to characterize differences in friendship networks and to identify critical hubs in the network. Sarah plans to continue the research in her senior year as an Honors in Mathematics project. Link here to read about Sarah's track feats.
Jimmy Riggs '12, a mathematics major, volunteered at Children of Zion Village in Namibia, Africa. His first trip to the village was with a church group in 2009, but his mission in 2011 was individual. Along with the constantly changing tasks to help out in the village, Jimmy brought smiles to the children's faces with a box of Rooney dolls. We're proud to have our majors improving the world! You can read more about his trip: Link to Jimmy's story.
Computer science students presented the Android Apps they created for semester projects in a poster session. The ideas for the apps were solicited from faculty and the Roanoke community and included a guided campus tour, quick access to the day's agenda in Congress, and directions to historical markers throughout Virginia. Do you want something fun and practical to do in class? We've got Apps for that!
Dr. Jane Ingram was honored with the Dean's Service Award. Dr. Ingram was recognized for major contributions to the new Intellectual Inquiry curriculum, both in its design and in the shaping of the first round of courses, highlighting a long list of activities in every area of service. Her commitment to service and teaching has been evident throughout her career at Roanoke, and the college is a better place due to her numerous contributions.
Anil Shende, Adam Childers and Roland Minton were among the faculty presenting at Roanoke College's Faculty Showcase in September, 2010. Physics major Paul Vines also showcased his work with Rama Balasubramanian. The Faculty Showcase brings together faculty from across the Roanoke campus to present posters on their research to parents and students during Family Weekend. The Showcase parallels the student presentations of summer research, which included MCSP's Paul Vines and Timmy Balint. Paul is a computer science and biology double major doing research in physics and Timmy is a physics major doing research in computer science. Roanoke students are versatile!
Roanoke College hosted the 34th annual Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies meeting in October, 2010. Among the speakers were Steve Majewski, a world-renowned expert on identifying remnants of previous galaxies, Jim Thieman of NASA, Ted Fork speaking on planetary nebulae and Roanoke College's own Matt Fleenor.
Lindsay Van Leir, a rising senior at Roanoke College, received a prize for outstanding presentation at the 2010 MathFest, a national mathematics meeting in Pittsburgh. Lindsay's presentation "Mapping the Liberal Arts: The Graph Theory Behind Your Degree" was based on her independent study applying graph theory to scheduling challenges faced by colleges. As a math major, art history minor and Honors Program student with a concentration in Classics, Lindsay knows a little about scheduling conflicts!
Dr. Matt Fleenor, a physicist at Roanoke College, had his essay "Modeling Stupidity" published in the October 2009 issue of The Teaching Professor. This thought provoking reflection questions some of our basic premises about classroom management. At the heart of his argument is the meaning of life-long learning and how we model that for students. You can find The Teaching Professor here.
Amanda Coughlin, a rising senior majoring in mathematics, spent the spring semester at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Ireland. Amanda will be finishing her degree this fall. She has done independent study work on the analysis of golf statistics, developing a regression model for ranking PGA golfers based on driving, putting and other statistics. She presented this work at MathFest in Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 2009.
The mathematics brochure is now available! You can view it here.
The Student Chapter of MAA celebrated Pi Day (3/14) with a pie-eating contest and a pie-ing of professors. Go here or here to see pictures of the carnage! Getting pie-faced on March 15 were faculty from math and other disciplines, and special guests from around the campus, including President Maxey and Chaplain Henrickson. Proceeds of over $100 went to FEMMES, a new campus organization promoting math and science excellence in female middle school students.
Elvis was here! Dr. Tim Pennings of Hope College brought his Welsh corgi Elvis to town for a talk. Elvis became famous for solving calculus problems after Pennings wrote an article about his abilities in The College Mathematics Journal. You can google "Elvis calculus dog" and find numerous articles and videos. As we found out, nobody attracts the media like Elvis. His visit made the national news! Even better, the talk brought about 500 people to the Bast Center to hear about calculus. See pictures here.
Dr. Roland Minton has published two essays as part of Math Awareness Month, which focuses on math and sports for 2010. Dr. Minton's work on a golf model developed by the great mathematician GH Hardy is featured in the April 2010 issue of Math Horizons and his work on golf statistics was the subject of an article in Discovery News. His articles and many other articles on the mathematics of sports can be found here.
Roanoke College hosted the Southeastern Consortium for Computing Sciences in College conference in November 2009. The conference brought together faculty and students from over 30 institutions throughout the region. The conference featured a student programming contest with 18 teams. The Roanoke College team of Rob Del Vecchio, Timmy Balint, Dumar Daniel and Marc Sandoval won second place in the competition.
Dr. Chris Lee, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Roanoke College, is featured as one of Wolfram Research's Portraits of Success. Dr. Lee is a leader on campus in the use of Wolfram's software Mathematica, and was instrumental in obtaining a grant that got students copies of Mathematica at a discount. See Dr. Lee talking about Roanoke College and Mathematica. Some of his calculus labs are featured in the clip.
Congratulations to the 2010 graduating class of Roanoke College! Among the graduates in the MCSP department is Alan Moore, a mathematics major who will be teaching at Lord Botetourt next year. Alan was a fixture in Information Technology, and graduates as the best baseball player in modern Roanoke College history. An article on Alan's baseball exploits can be found here. Best wishes to Alan and all of our graduates!
Renee Rhodes, a rising senior majoring in mathematics, passed away suddenly on July 2 from meningitis. All of us in the department are grateful for her life. Her enthusiasm and friendship enhanced the department in many ways, both direct and indirect. As Dr. Chris Lee said at the memorial service, we would all like to have one more of Renee's hugs. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, fiance Steven Nunnally and his family, and all of her many friends. We will miss her every day.
Dr. Adam Childers, a statistician at Roanoke College, won the "Frozen Toes" 10K race on January 9. Dr. Childers has had a busy academic year, getting married and joining the faculty in the fall. You can read about Ol' Frozen Toes here.
Matthew Potts, a senior physics major, and Paul Vines, a sophomore computer science major, presented their summer research projects at MARCUS (the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship). Paul worked with Dr. Balasubramanian on "Y-branches in Carbon Nanotubes" and Matthew worked with Dr. Fleenor on "Origins of a Galaxy Group in Cluster A3128."
Congratulations to Dr. Chris Lee for winning the 2009 Exemplary Teaching Award! Dr. Lee was nominated by three students for his ability to bring mathematics alive and for his innovative use of technology in the classroom. Dr. Lee is the third member of the department to win this important award. Congratulations also to Dr. Roland Minton for winning the 2009 Professional Achievement Award! Dr. Minton was nominated for his work with calculus textbooks and the mathematics of sports. He is the third member of the department to win this award. It is a special honor for one department to take both awards.
Sarah Witt, a mathematics major at Roanoke College, was named to the USTFCCA (track and field) Division III All-Academic Team following her freshman season in 2009. Sarah finished sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in the NCAA Championships in May, and was named ODAC Rookie of the Year in track. Go here to read more.
Mark Lucas, a senior majoring in mathematics, won first place for best mathematics talk at the 2009 Alpha Chi National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mark's talk on "The Evolution of Swarm Intelligence" is a product of his Summer Scholar work and subsequence independent studies sponsored by Dr. Jeff Spielman. Mark had previously presented work on this project at MathFest in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2008.
Matt Fleenor has launched Astronomy at Roanoke College, an astronomy club with student involvement and community outreach. A new astronomy course has been approved for Fall 2008, giving RC students an exciting choice for a laboratory science course. Courses for physics majors are being designed, and student research is underway. See story.
Art Benjamin was here!! The MCSP Department hosted Professor Art Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College as a Copenhaver Scholar-in-residence. He is a renowned mathematics writer, teacher and performer. His talk on Thursday, March 19, featured his special blend of mathematics and magic ("Mathemagics"). He also hosted a card-trick workshop, guest lectured in classes, gave previews for his upcoming DVD series on mathematics for the Teaching Company, and generally led us in a week-long celebration of mathematics.
The Student Chapter of MAA celebrated Pi Day (3/14) by pie-ing professors. Getting pie-faced on March 12 were faculty from math and other disciplines, and special guests from around the campus, including Chaplain Henrickson. Proceeds of over $100 went to the Salem Food Pantry. Go here to see pictures of the carnage! The chapter has been featured as an especially successful student mathematics organization in the October 2009 MAA Focus. See Math Club in a Box.
Danielle Shiley, a junior at Roanoke College, won first place in the student poster competition at the Spring 2008 MAA Section in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Danielle's poster was titled "Applying Calculus to the AIDS Epidemic in Cuba" and presented work done in her URAP project. She is an economics major from New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Danielle determined parameters to fit a generic epidemiology model to data on HIV and AIDS cases in Cuba. Her poster and ability to discuss her research was judged the best of the twenty student participants.
Steven Nunnally, a junior computer science major, won second place in the student research paper competition of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges held at Augusta College. Roanoke College will host the CCSC meeting on November 13-14, 2009. Sarah Witt, a freshman mathematics major, was ODAC Athlete of the Week for March 16-22, 2009, for her outstanding performance in the Roanoke Invitational track meet. Read about Sarah here. Another major on the track team is Renee Rhodes (pictured), a sophomore mathematics major, who cleared a personal best of 9'6" in the pole vault.
Roland Minton received the 2008 George Polya Award for expository excellence in mathematics. He and Tim Pennings of Hope College were honored for their collaboration on "Do Dogs Know Bifurcations?" published in the November 2007 College Mathematics Journal. The article explores the ability of Pennings' Welsh corgi Elvis (pictured) to solve calculus problems. In particular, when chasing a ball thrown into the water, Elvis must decide how far to run before jumping into the water. He chooses well! You can find out more about the article here.
Jake Bennett, a double major in physics and mathematics, was the 2008 valedictorian of Roanoke College. Jake is from Lexington, Virginia, and has enrolled in the High Energy Physics PhD program at Indiana University. Congratulations to the 8 mathematics, 3 physics and 3 computer information systems graduates. The graduation speech was delivered by John McAfee, Roanoke College 1967 mathematics major. McAfee pioneered voice recognition systems, instant messaging and the virus protection software that bears his name.
Jan Minton has been named acting Director of the Honors Program at Roanoke College. She has served as Associate Director of the Honors Program for the past six years. In addition, Jan was elected Treasurer of the Maryland / DC / Virginia Section of the Mathematical Association of America. She teaches a variety of mathematics and statistics courses in addition to her Honors course on Mathematics and Art. The Honors Program has a long history of student research and participation at national meetings.
Mark Lucas, a rising senior majoring in mathematics, gave a research talk at MathFest in Madison, Wisconsin. Mark's talk on "The Evolution of Swarm Intelligence" is a product of his Summer Scholar work sponsored by Dr. Jeff Spielman. Mark will present his work this fall on campus and at MARCUS, and plans to continue his research in his senior year. Also representing Roanoke College at MathFest were mathematics professors Rebecca Wills and David Taylor who are members of the Project Next program for young faculty, and Roland and Jan Minton.
Roanoke College graduate Geoff Boyer, winner of his division of the U.S. Open at a 2007 Go Congress, brought his expertise to campus to teach Go, the ancient Chinese game of strategy. The event was sponsored by the student MAA chapter. Geoff had been featured in the Roanoke newspaper as one of several accomplished local players. His guidance and good humor got all of those present excited about this deceptively challenging game.
Senior mathematics major A.J. Haynes celebrated his December graduation earlier than expected. Dr. Lee's proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus in Real Analysis was interrupted by the familiar tune of Pomp and Circumstance, followed by A.J. entering the room in full graduation regalia. The Fundamental Theorem remains unproven!
Jake Bennett, a double major in physics and mathematics at Roanoke College, has been named a 2006-07 Goldwater Scholar. Jake is a rising senior from Lexington, Virginia. The scholarship is administered by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, a federally endowed agency founded by Congress to foster outstanding students in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type.
Jan Minton, Chris Lee, Jeff Spielman, Roland Minton and Mark Poore won the 2007 Roanoke College Innovation Award for changes in calculus. The group has introduced classroom response systems ("clickers") to help achieve a more interactive classroom. Other features such as a lab make calculus a unique experience at Roanoke College.
Roanoke College hosted the spring meeting of the of the Mathematical Association of America on April 13-14. The meeting included a variety of mathematical talks and student paper and poster competitions.
The MCSP Conversation Series has set its fall schedule. The Conversation Series includes talks by Roanoke College faculty, students, past graduates and invited speakers from other colleges. The opening talk went to the dogs as Dr. Roland Minton talked about how animals and humans learn math, including Elvis, the King of Calculus, a Welsh corgi who can solve calculus problems.
Dr. Bill Ergle retired after 44 years of outstanding service to Roanoke College and the MCSP department. A long time chair of the department, Bill has been fundamental in maintaining a strong statistics program, one that distinguishes Roanoke College from other schools of its size. We will continue to benefit from Bill's leadership and good humor.
Jake Bennett has been invited to participate in the REU program at the Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics at Cornell University for summer 2007. Jake is a junior at Roanoke College, double majoring in physics and mathematics. The Cornell REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program is highly competitive.
Roanoke College will host the spring meeting of the Maryland/DC/Virginia section of the Mathematical Association of America on April 13-14. The meeting will include a variety of mathematical talks and student paper and poster competitions.
Junior mathematics major Ashley Francis has earned the Wachovia Securities Scholarship for 2007, awarded through the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.
The MCSP Conversation Series has set its Fall 2010 schedule. The Conversation Series includes talks by Roanoke College faculty, students, past graduates and invited speakers from other colleges.
Dr. Roland Minton is a calculus co-author with Bob Smith. The Early Transcendentals, 3rd edition, and Concepts books are now joined by Late Transcendentals, just published by McGraw-Hill. Link to more.
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