About this topic
Summary Proponents of decoherence-based interpretations of quantum mechanics aim to solve the measurement problem by appeal to the physical process of decoherence, without committing themselves to the full ontology of the many-worlds interpretation. 
Key works The theory of decoherent histories was developed independently by Robert Griffiths and by Murray Gell-Mann and James Hartle. Roland Omnes further developed and formalized Griffiths' approach. The best places to start are Gell-Mann and Hartle's original article (Gell-Mann & Hartle 1990), and the books by Griffiths (Griffiths 2002) and Omnes (Omnes 1999).
Introductions Griffiths 1999
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  1. On the Phenomenology of Quantum-Mechanical Superpositions.D. Albert - 1997 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 55:196-215.
  2. Seven Steps Toward the Classical World.Valia Allori, Detlef Duerr, Nino Zanghi & Sheldon Goldstein - 2002 - Journal of Optics B 4:482–488.
    Classical physics is about real objects, like apples falling from trees, whose motion is governed by Newtonian laws. In standard quantum mechanics only the wave function or the results of measurements exist, and to answer the question of how the classical world can be part of the quantum world is a rather formidable task. However, this is not the case for Bohmian mechanics, which, like classical mechanics, is a theory about real objects. In Bohmian terms, the problem of the classical (...)
  3. The Role of Decoherence in Quantum Theory.Guido Bacciagaluppi - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  4. The Role of Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics.Guido Bacciagaluppi - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Interference phenomena are a well-known and crucial feature of quantum mechanics, the two-slit experiment providing a standard example. There are situations, however, in which interference effects are (artificially or spontaneously) suppressed. We shall need to make precise what this means, but the theory of decoherence is the study of (spontaneous) interactions between a system and its environment that lead to such suppression of interference. This study includes detailed modelling of system-environment interactions, derivation of equations (‘master equations’) for the (reduced) state (...)
  5. Remarks on Space-Time and Locality in Everett's Interpretation.Guido Bacciagaluppi - 2001 - In T. Placek & J. Butterfield (eds.), Non-Locality and Modality. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 105--122.
    Interpretations that follow Everett's idea that the universal wave function contains a multiplicity of coexisting realities, usually claim to give a completely local account of quantum mechanics. That is, they claim to give an account that avoids both a non-local collapse of the wave function, and the action at a distance needed in hidden variable theories in order to reproduce the quantum mechanical violation of the Bell inequalities. In this paper, I sketch how these claims can be substantiated in two (...)
  6. Making Sense of Approximate Decoherence.Guido Bacciagaluppi & Meir Hemmo - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:345 - 354.
    In realistic situations where a macroscopic system interacts with an external environment, decoherence of the quantum state, as derived in the decoherence approach, is only approximate. We argue that this can still give rise to facts, provided that during the decoherence process states that are, respectively, always close to eigenvectors of pointer position and record observable are correlated. We show in a model that this is always the case.
  7. Classicality Without Decoherence: A Reply to Schlosshauer. [REVIEW]Leslie Ballentine - 2008 - Foundations of Physics 38 (10):916-922.
    Schlosshauer has criticized the conclusion of Wiebe and Ballentine (Phys. Rev. A 72:022109, 2005) that decoherence is not essential for the emergence of classicality from quantum mechanics. I reply to the issues raised in his critique, which range from the interpretation of quantum mechanics to the criterion for classicality, and conclude that the role of decoherence in these issues is much more restricted than is often claimed.
  8. Environment, Consciousness, and Quantum Measurement.Donald Bedford & Derek Wang - 1976 - Foundations of Physics 6 (5):599-605.
    It is shown that (a) the conscious observer plays no essential part in the measurement process, and (b) environmental perturbations of whatever kind fail to account for the evolution of systems into “mixtures” or “dynamically decoupled” systems.
  9. Alisa Bokulich * Reexamining the Quantum-Classical Relation: Beyond Reductionism and Pluralism.M. Berry - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):889-895.
  10. Book Review: Quantum Measurements and Decoherence. Models and Phenomenology. By Michael B. Mensky. [REVIEW]H. -Hv Borzeszkowski - 2000 - Foundations of Physics 30 (11):1991-1994.
  11. How Much Time Does a Measurement Take?Carlos Alexandre Brasil, L. A. De Castro & R. D. J. Napolitano - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (5):642-655.
    We consider the problem of measurement using the Lindblad equation, which allows the introduction of time in the interaction between the measured system and the measurement apparatus. We use analytic results, valid for weak system-environment coupling, obtained for a two-level system in contact with a measurer (Markovian interaction) and a thermal bath (non-Markovian interaction), where the measured observable may or may not commute with the system-environment interaction. Analysing the behavior of the coherence, which tends to a value asymptotically close to (...)
  12. Subjective Decoherence in Quantum Measurements.Thomas Breuer - 1996 - Synthese 107 (1):1 - 17.
    General results about restrictions on measurements from inside are applied to quantum mechanics. They imply subjective decoherence: For an apparatus it is not possible to determine whether the joint system consisting of itself and the observed system is in a statistical state with or without interference terms; it is possible that the apparatus systematically mistakes the real pure state of the joint system for the decohered state. We discuss the relevance of subjective decoherence for quantum measurements and for the problem (...)
  13. A Uniqueness Theorem for ‘No Collapse’ Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub & Rob Clifton - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (2):181-219.
    We prove a uniqueness theorem showing that, subject to certain natural constraints, all 'no collapse' interpretations of quantum mechanics can be uniquely characterized and reduced to the choice of a particular preferred observable as determine (definite, sharp). We show how certain versions of the modal interpretation, Bohm's 'causal' interpretation, Bohr's complementarity interpretation, and the orthodox (Dirac-von Neumann) interpretation without the projection postulate can be recovered from the theorem. Bohr's complementarity and Einstein's realism appear as two quite different proposals for selecting (...)
  14. Revised Proof of the Uniqueness Theorem for ‘No Collapse’ Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub, Rob Clifton & Sheldon Goldstein - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (1):95-98.
  15. A General Conceptual Framework for Decoherence in Closed and Open Systems.Mario Castagnino, Roberto Laura & Olimpia Lombardi - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):968-980.
    In this paper we argue that the formalisms for decoherence originally devised to deal just with closed or open systems can be subsumed under a general conceptual framework, in such a way that they cooperate in the understanding of the same physical phenomenon. This new perspective dissolves certain conceptual difficulties of the einselection program but, at the same time, shows that the openness of the quantum system is not the essential ingredient for decoherence. †To contact the authors, please write to: (...)
  16. Self‐Induced Decoherence and the Classical Limit of Quantum Mechanics.Mario Castagnino & Olimpia Lombardi - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):764-776.
    In this paper we argue that the emergence of the classical world from the underlying quantum reality involves two elements: self-induced decoherence and macroscopicity. Self-induced decoherence does not require the openness of the system and its interaction with the environment: a single closed system can decohere when its Hamiltonian has continuous spectrum. We show that, if the system is macroscopic enough, after self-induced decoherence it can be described as an ensemble of classical distributions weighted by their corresponding probabilities. We also (...)
  17. Self-Induced Selection: A New Approach to Quantum Decoherence.Mario Castagnino & Olimpia Lombardi - unknown
    According to Zurek, decoherence is a process resulting from the interaction between a quantum system and its environment; this process singles out a preferred set of states, usually called “pointer basis”, that determines which observables will receive definite values. This means that decoherence leads to a sort of selection which precludes all except a small subset of the states in the Hilbert space of the system from behaving in a classical manner: environment-induced-superselection (einselection) is a consequence of the process of (...)
  18. Exploring Philosophical Implications of Quantum Decoherence.Elise M. Crull - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (9):875-885.
    Quantum decoherence is receiving a great deal of attention today not only in theoretical and experimental physics but also in branches of science as diverse as molecular biology, biochemistry, and even neuropsychology. It is no surprise that it is also beginning to appear in various philosophical debates concerning the fundamental structure of the world. The purpose of this article is primarily to acquaint non-specialists with quantum decoherence and clarify related concepts, and secondly to sketch its possible implications – independent of (...)
  19. Generation of Highly Resilient to Decoherence Macroscopic Quantum Superpositions Via Phase-Covariant Quantum Cloning.Francesco De Martini, Fabio Sciarrino, Nicolò Spagnolo & Chiara Vitelli - 2011 - Foundations of Physics 41 (3):492-508.
    In this paper we analyze the resilience to decoherence of the Macroscopic Quantum Superpositions (MQS) generated by optimal phase-covariant quantum cloning according to two coherence criteria, both based on the concept of Bures distance in Hilbert spaces. We show that all MQS generated by this system are characterized by a high resilience to decoherence processes. This analysis is supported by the results of recent MQS experiments of N=3.5×104 particles.
  20. Preface Special Issue Foundations of Physics.Dennis Dieks, Décio Krause & Christian de Ronde - 2014 - Foundations of Physics 44 (12):1245-1245.
    The foundations of quantum mechanics are attracting new and significant interest in the scientific community due to the recent striking experimental and technical progress in the fields of quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum information processing. However, at a more fundamental level the understanding and manipulation of these novel phenomena require not only new laboratory techniques but also new understanding, development and interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, a mathematical structure whose connection to what happens in physical reality (...)
  21. Review Articles-Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classical World in Quantum Theory.Matthew J. Donald - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30 (3):437-442.
  22. The 'Decoherence' Approach to the Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics.Andrew Elby - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:355 - 365.
    Decoherence results from the dissipative interaction between a quantum system and its environment. As the system and environment become entangled, the reduced density operator describing the system "decoheres" into a mixture (with the interference terms damped out). This formal result prompts some to exclaim that the measurement problem is solved. I will scrutinize this claim by examining how modal and relative-state interpretations can use decoherence. Although decoherence cannot rescue these interpretations from general metaphysical difficulties, decoherence may help these interpretations to (...)
  23. Quantum Mechanics and Relational Realism.Michael Epperson - 2009 - Process Studies 38 (2):340-367.
    By the relational realist interpretation of wave function collapse, the quantum mechanical actualization of potentia is defined as a decoherence-driven process by which each actualization (in “orthodox” terms, each measurement outcome) is conditioned both by physical and logical relations with the actualities conventionally demarked as “environmental” or external to that particular outcome. But by the relational realist interpretation, the actualization-in-process is understood as internally related to these “enironmental” data per the formalism of quantum decoherence. The concept of “actualization via wave (...)
  24. On the Ollivier–Poulin–Zurek Definition of Objectivity.Chris Fields - 2014 - Axiomathes 24 (1):137-156.
    The Ollivier–Poulin–Zurek definition of objectivity provides a philosophical basis for the environment as witness formulation of decoherence theory and hence for quantum Darwinism. It is shown that no account of the reference of the key terms in this definition can be given that does not render the definition inapplicable within quantum theory. It is argued that this is not the fault of the language used, but of the assumption that the laws of physics are independent of Hilbert-space decomposition. All evidence (...)
  25. Decision Theory and Information Propagation in Quantum Physics.Alan Forrester - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (4):815-831.
    In recent papers, Zurek [(2005). Probabilities from entanglement, Born's rule pk=|ψk|2 from entanglement. Physical Review A, 71, 052105] has objected to the decision-theoretic approach of Deutsch [(1999) Quantum theory of probability and decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, 455, 3129–3137] and Wallace [(2003). Everettian rationality: defending Deutsch's approach to probability in the Everett interpretation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 34, 415–438] to deriving the Born rule for quantum probabilities on the grounds that it courts (...)
  26. Quantum Decoherence: A Logical Perspective.Sebastian Fortin & Leonardo Vanni - 2014 - Foundations of Physics 44 (12):1258-1268.
    The so-called classical limit of quantum mechanics is generally studied in terms of the decoherence of the state operator that characterizes a system. This is not the only possible approach to decoherence. In previous works we have presented the possibility of studying the classical limit in terms of the decoherence of relevant observables of the system. On the basis of this approach, in this paper we introduce the classical limit from a logical perspective, by studying the way in which the (...)
  27. The Montevideo Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: Frequently Asked Questions.Rodolfo Gambini & Jorge Pullin - 2009 - Journal of Physics Conference Series 174:012003.
    In a series of recent papers we have introduced a new interpretation of quantum mechanics, which for brevity we will call the Montevideo interpretation. In it, the quantum to classical transition is achieved via a phenomenon called “undecidability” which stems from environmental decoherence supplemented with a fundamental mechanism of loss of coherence due to gravity. Due to the fact that the interpretation grew from several results that are dispersed in the literature, we put together this straightforward-to-read article addressing some of (...)
  28. Quantum Mechanics in the Light of Quantum Cosmology.Murray Gell-Mann & James Hartle - 1990 - In W. Zurek (ed.), Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information. Addison-Wesley.
  29. On the Existence of Inequivalent Quasideterministic Domains.Irene Giardina & Alberto Rimini - 1996 - Foundations of Physics 26 (8):973-987.
    In the framework of the history approach to quantum mechanics and, in particular, of the formulation of Gell-Mann and Hartle, the question of the existence of inequivalent decoherent sets of histories is reconsidered. A simple but acceptably realistic model of the dynamics of the universe is proposed and a particular set of histories is shown to be decoherent. By suitable tranformations of this set, a family of sets of histories is then generated, such that the sets, first, are decoherent on (...)
  30. Consistent Quantum Theory.Robert Griffiths - 2002 - Cambridge UP.
    A clear and accessible presentation of quantum theory, suitable for researchers yet accessible to graduates.
  31. Consistent Histories and Quantum Measurements.Robert Griffiths - 1999 - Physics Today (52):26-31.
  32. Does Protective Measurement Tell Us Anything About Quantum Reality?Amit Hagar - manuscript
    An analysis of the two routes through which one may disentangle a quantum system from a measuring apparatus, hence protect the state vector of a single quantum system from being disturbed by the measurement, reveals several loopholes in the argument from protective measurement to the reality of the state vector of a single quantum system.
  33. Veiled Realism? Review of B d'Espagnat's On Physics and Philosophy. [REVIEW]Amit Hagar - 2012 - Physics in Perspective (x).
  34. Decoherence: The View From the History and the Philosophy of Science.Amit Hagar - 2012 - Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. London A 375 (1975).
    We present a brief history of decoherence, from its roots in the foundations of classical statistical mechanics, to the current spin bath models in condensed matter physics. We analyze the philosophical import of the subject matter in three different foundational problems, and find that, contrary to the received view, decoherence is less instrumental to their solutions than it is commonly believed. What makes decoherence more philosophically interesting, we argue, are the methodological issues it draws attention to, and the question of (...)
  35. When Worlds Collide: Quantum Probability From Observer Selection? [REVIEW]Robin Hanson - 2003 - Foundations of Physics 33 (7):1129-1150.
    In Everett's many worlds interpretation, quantum measurements are considered to be decoherence events. If so, then inexact decoherence may allow large worlds to mangle the memory of observers in small worlds, creating a cutoff in observable world size. Smaller world are mangled and so not observed. If this cutoff is much closer to the median measure size than to the median world size, the distribution of outcomes seen in unmangled worlds follows the Born rule. Thus deviations from exact decoherence can (...)
  36. Quantum Decoherence in a Pragmatist View: Dispelling Feynman's Mystery. [REVIEW]Richard Healey - 2012 - Foundations of Physics 42 (12):1534-1555.
    The quantum theory of decoherence plays an important role in a pragmatist interpretation of quantum theory. It governs the descriptive content of claims about values of physical magnitudes and offers advice on when to use quantum probabilities as a guide to their truth. The content of a claim is to be understood in terms of its role in inferences. This promises a better treatment of meaning than that offered by Bohr. Quantum theory models physical systems with no mention of measurement: (...)
  37. Quantum Decoherence in a Pragmatist View: Part I.Richard Healey - unknown
    The quantum theory of decoherence plays an important role in a pragmatist interpretation of quantum theory. It governs the descriptive content of claims about values of physical magnitudes and offers advice on when to use quantum probabilities as a guide to their truth. The content of a claim is to be understood in terms of its role in inferences. This promises a better treatment of meaning than that of Bohr. Quantum theory models physical systems with no mention of measurement: it (...)
  38. Remarks on the Direction of Time in Quantum Mechanics.Meir Hemmo - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1458-1471.
    I argue that in the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics time has no fundamental direction. I further discuss a way to recover thermodynamics in this interpretation using decoherence theory (Zurek and Paz 1994). Albert's proposal to recover thermodynamics from the collapse theory of Ghirardi et al. (1986) is also considered.
  39. Can We Explain Thermodynamics By Quantum Decoherence?Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):555-568.
    Can we explain the laws of thermodynamics, in particular the irreversible increase of entropy, from the underlying quantum mechanical dynamics? Attempts based on classical dynamics have all failed. Albert (1994a,b; 2000) proposed a way to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wavefunction of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (1986). In this paper we propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard (...)
  40. Quantum Decoherence and the Approach to Equilibrium.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 70 (2):330-358.
    We discuss a recent proposal by Albert (1994a; 1994b; 2000, ch. 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function by Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber (1986). We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems (e.g., Joos and Zeh 1985; Zurek and Paz 1994). This paper presents the two approaches (...)
  41. Quantum Decoherence and the Approach to Equilibrium.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (4):626-648.
    We discuss a recent proposal by Albert to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber. We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems, \eg Joos and Zeh and Zurek and Paz. This paper presents the two approaches and discusses their advantages. The problems they (...)
  42. Quantum Mechanics at the Crossroads, James Evans, Alan S. Thorndike. Springer, Berlin (2007). 249pp., Hardcover, US$ 69.95, ISBN: 978-3-540-32663-. [REVIEW]Larsson Jan-Åke - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (1):229-230.
  43. Illusory Decoherence.Sam Kennerly - 2012 - Foundations of Physics 42 (9):1200-1209.
    Suppose a quantum experiment includes one or more random processes. Then the results of repeated measurements may appear consistent with irreversible decoherence even if the system’s evolution prior to measurement is reversible and unitary. Two thought experiments are constructed as examples.
  44. Decoherence and the Quantum-to-Classical Transition (Springer, Berlin, 2007, Corrected Second Printing, 2008), Xv+416pp., ISBN 978-3-540-35773-5, Hardcover, 74.85 Euro. [REVIEW]N. P. Landsman - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (1):94-95.
  45. Observation and Superselection in Quantum Mechanics.N. P. Landsman - 1995 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 26 (1):45-73.
    We attempt to clarify the main conceptual issues in approaches to ‘objectification’ or ‘measurement’ in quantum mechanics which are based on superselection rules. Such approaches venture to derive the emergence of classical ‘reality’ relative to a class of observers; those believing that the classical world exists intrinsically and absolutely are advised against reading this paper. The prototype approach (K. Hepp, Helv. Phys. Acta45 (1972), 237–248) where superselection sectors are assumed in the state space of the apparatus is shown to be (...)
  46. Between Classical and Quantum.Nicolaas P. Landsman - unknown
    The relationship between classical and quantum theory is of central importance to the philosophy of physics, and any interpretation of quantum mechanics has to clarify it. Our discussion of this relationship is partly historical and conceptual, but mostly technical and mathematically rigorous, including over 500 references. For example, we sketch how certain intuitive ideas of the founders of quantum theory have fared in the light of current mathematical knowledge. One such idea that has certainly stood the test of time is (...)
  47. Enhancement of Decoherence by Chaotic-Like Behavior.J. Levitan, M. Lewkowicz & Y. Ashkenazy - 1997 - Foundations of Physics 27 (2):203-214.
    We demonstrate by use of a simple one-dimensional model of a square barrier imbedded in an infinite potential well that decoherence is enhanced by chaotic-like behavior. We, moreover, show that the transition h→0 is singular. Finally it is argued that the time scale on which decoherence occurs depends, on the degree of complexity of the underlying quantum mechanical system, i.e., more complex systems decohere relatively faster than less complex ones.
  48. Compatibility Between Environment-Induced Decoherence and the Modal-Hamiltonian Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Olimpia Lombardi, Juan Sebastián Ardenghi, Sebastian Fortin & Mario Castagnino - unknown
    Given the impressive success of environment-induced decoherence, nowadays no interpretation of quantum mechanics can ignore its results. The modal-Hamiltonian interpretation has proved to be effective for solving several interpretative problems but, since its actualization rule applies to closed systems, it seems to stand at odds of EID. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is not the case: the states einselected by the interaction with the environment according to EID are the eigenvectors of an actual-valued observable belonging (...)
  49. The Problem of Identifying the System and the Environment in the Phenomenon of Decoherence.Olimpia Lombardi, Sebastian Fortin & Mario Castagnino - 2010 - In Henk W. de Regt (ed.), Epsa Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer. pp. 161--174.
    According to the environment-induced approach to decoherence, the split of the Universe into the degrees of freedom which are of direct interest to the observer and the remaining degrees of freedom is absolutely essential for decoherence. However, the EID approach offers no general criterion for deciding where to place the “cut” between system and environment: the environment may be “external” or “internal”. The main purpose of this paper is to argue that decoherence is a relative phenomenon, better understood from a (...)
  50. Application of Quantum Darwinism to Cosmic Inflation: An Example of the Limits Imposed in Aristotelian Logic by Information-Based Approach to Gödel's Incompleteness. [REVIEW]Nicolás F. Lori & Alex H. Blin - 2010 - Foundations of Science 15 (2):199-211.
    Gödel’s incompleteness applies to any system with recursively enumerable axioms and rules of inference. Chaitin’s approach to Gödel’s incompleteness relates the incompleteness to the amount of information contained in the axioms. Zurek’s quantum Darwinism attempts the physical description of the universe using information as one of its major components. The capacity of quantum Darwinism to describe quantum measurement in great detail without requiring ad-hoc non-unitary evolution makes it a good candidate for describing the transition from quantum to classical. A baby-universe (...)
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