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Author Topic: The Clearview Subject  (Read 109880 times)

jakeroot

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #275 on: June 04, 2014, 07:07:59 PM »

Comparison of how both Clearview and FHWA Series E differentiate between the I and l situation:

Top is Series E, bottom is Clearview 5-W.

At 75 mph/120 km/h, the bottom is definitely clearer, in my opinion.

They both make the Is look different from the ls at high speed.  Clearview is too much like Transport, IMHO, and is just as ugly as well.

Well, we definitely differ there...Transport is my favorite road sign font. Second is DIN 1451. Third, Clearview. Fourth, FHWA.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #276 on: June 04, 2014, 09:15:32 PM »

Experimenting in Photoshop isn't the most scientific method, but I can size legends in Clearview and Series Gothic at the same cap height and do a Gaussian blur exercise.

Gaussian blur isn't a very good simulator.  You really want a circular-aperture blur, which isn't implemented in most image editors because it's not a fast effect to compute.  A square-aperture blur is easier to compute and might be a close substitute (In Paint Shop Pro the command for that is Effects > Blur > Average).  You also need to be mindful of the nonlinear nature of sRGB, and for a good optical blur simulation, the calculation needs to be done in a linear-light colorspace.  If the image editor doesn't offer such a choice of working colorspace, the result can be approximated in sRGB by applying a gamma correction of .45, performing the blur, then applying a gamma correction of 2.2.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #277 on: June 05, 2014, 05:05:33 AM »

They both make the Is look different from the ls at high speed.  Clearview is too much like Transport, IMHO, and is just as ugly as well.

I don't see it. The difference in the Series E example is so subtle that I don't think I could even see it until I was very close to the sign!
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #278 on: June 05, 2014, 05:58:07 AM »

Really, though, as stated upthread, there's seldom an instance where I/l is actually confusing. Lowercase l typically doesn't appear at the beginning of words.

I want to say that back when button copy was a thing, there was an I with serifs that popped up occasionally in Oklahoma, mainly for things like "I-" in textual references to Interstates, where it could be confused with a 1.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #279 on: June 05, 2014, 11:16:44 AM »

They both make the Is look different from the ls at high speed.  Clearview is too much like Transport, IMHO, and is just as ugly as well.
Well, we definitely differ there...Transport is my favorite road sign font. Second is DIN 1451. Third, Clearview. Fourth, FHWA.

I'm with Jake here. I like Clearview. I'd like to see Transport on American signs. I dread the thought of Clearview being removed and replaced with FHWA.

I have heard from several people that the FHWA fonts are "clunky" or "outdated/less modern" or "ugly", but I've never really heard specifics as to why they feel that way.

Well, it's like porn--you can't describe it, but you know it when you see it. Perhaps my preference for Clearview and Transport stems from the fact that I am a software developer and heavy computer user. Maybe it's because I hold the Texas highway system in such high esteem.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #280 on: June 05, 2014, 11:35:33 AM »

Perhaps my preference for Clearview and Transport stems from the fact that I am a software developer and heavy computer user.

I prefer the FHWA fonts.

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #281 on: June 05, 2014, 11:37:06 AM »

They both make the Is look different from the ls at high speed.  Clearview is too much like Transport, IMHO, and is just as ugly as well.
Well, we definitely differ there...Transport is my favorite road sign font. Second is DIN 1451. Third, Clearview. Fourth, FHWA.
I'm with Jake here. I like Clearview. I'd like to see Transport on American signs. I dread the thought of Clearview being removed and replaced with FHWA.

Same here as well. The feds should give Transport and DIN fonts a fair shake over here. Also, the thought of reverting all current Clearview signs back to E-modifed is just waste and a lost opportunity to try different typefaces in the real world.


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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #282 on: June 05, 2014, 11:40:05 AM »

Perhaps my preference for Clearview and Transport stems from the fact that I am a software developer and heavy computer user.

I prefer the FHWA fonts.



I agree with this post. FHWA was meant for road signs, and I'm glad it will remain on our signs here in the United States. If legibility is a concern - just drop EM and use E half-modified with spacing adjusted to Series EM. Problem solved.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #283 on: June 05, 2014, 12:22:43 PM »

My preference:

Pick one already.

Then, teach people how to use it properly, and adopt this thing called "quality control."  Stop hanging up signs that are obviously shittily composed.  Have basic skills tests for those involved. 

If only the font was the biggest problem.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #284 on: June 05, 2014, 12:40:01 PM »

Perhaps my preference for Clearview and Transport stems from the fact that I am a software developer and heavy computer user.

I prefer the FHWA fonts.



I'm not making an argument. Frankly, most of this discussion boils down to personal taste with a little bit of science thrown in. Personal taste is a bad reason for choosing one font over another, whereas legibility is a rather vital reason in choosing a font for road signage.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #285 on: June 05, 2014, 03:07:42 PM »

Sometimes I think I'm the only one who does not become apoplectic when Helvetica or Arial or some other font shows up on a road sign.

Last week, someone posted a picture in a Facebook group of US 15 signs in North Carolina with the numbers in Franklin Gothic, and the response was immediate and horrified, with people saying Franklin Gothic doesn't belong on road signs.

Why not? Just because we've been conditioned to seeing a certain font on signs doesn't mean that other fonts are wrong, or don't belong.
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jakeroot

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #286 on: June 05, 2014, 04:42:41 PM »

Sometimes I think I'm the only one who does not become apoplectic when Helvetica or Arial or some other font shows up on a road sign.

Last week, someone posted a picture in a Facebook group of US 15 signs in North Carolina with the numbers in Franklin Gothic, and the response was immediate and horrified, with people saying Franklin Gothic doesn't belong on road signs.

Why not? Just because we've been conditioned to seeing a certain font on signs doesn't mean that other fonts are wrong, or don't belong.

I agree wholeheartedly. Much of the argument on here is rooted in the love of the bygone road heyday, which I have no attachment to personally.
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Bobby5280

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #287 on: June 10, 2014, 12:58:30 AM »

Sorry for the delayed response. I've been incredibly busy the past few days. Trying to catch up.



Regarding Zeffy's Illinois example, I don't think it's very fair. The two legends are sized at the same horizontal width rather than the same cap letter height. Normally sign letters are specified according to capital letter height, not overall legend width.



Here is another example of the "Illinois" legend set in Clearview Highway 5W and FHWA Series Gothic E. But in this example both legends are set at the same capital letter height rather than both legends set at identical lengths. Clearview Highway has a significantly larger lowercase letter range. The Clearview lowercase letters are around 7/8 the size of the uppercase letters. Most of the FHWA Series Gothic lowercase letters are just under 3/4 the size of the uppercase letters. And that actually makes their letters insufficiently small in terms of the latest MUTCD requirements of lowercase letters being at least 3/4 the height of the uppercase letters.

At any rate, Clearview Highway done properly is going to be quite a bit more legible than FHWA Series Gothic, but it is going to come at a cost of longer sign panels.

Quote from: Scott5114
Which glyphs, in particular, do you feel "need to be fixed"? I have heard from several people that the FHWA fonts are "clunky" or "outdated/less modern" or "ugly", but I've never really heard specifics as to why they feel that way. I will agree that on most series, the lowercase "w" is ghastly, but that's the only character in particular I have noticed as being particularly ugly. It should be noted that while the uppercase characters were designed back in the 1940s, for all series other than E(M), the lower-case letters were designed much more recently (I want to say 2000 or so). I understand that "modern" fonts usually incorporate variance in stroke width as Clearview does, but I would guess that a consistent stroke width is more legible.

Glyphs I don't like in FHWA Series Gothic.

In the uppercase range I think the "G" is downright terrible. It stinks in the Series E weight and it only gets worse as the weights get more narrow. The "O" is funky looking. Honestly, the uppercase "S" the only curved letter in FHWA Series Gothic that looks the slightest bit attractive at all. Normally a typeface should retain some harmony in its angled A, K, M, N, V, W, X, Y and Z characters. FHWA Series Gothic has none of this harmony. And in the area where it's most expected, between the V and W characters, the angles have no resemblance to each other. The "v" and "w" relationship is better in the lowercase range, but too many of the lowercase letters have all sorts of clunky, crooked looking issues. Overall, it's just a butt-ugly looking typeface. Familiarity and nostalgia are the only factors helping it.

Some people here like to take pot shots at Font Bureau's Interstate type family, but all of its curved letters are way better drawn than those in FHWA Series Gothic. The V & W relationship still kind of stinks. But even Interstate's numerals look better. Unfortunately Interstate is not a workable substitute for FHWA Series Gothic. It's not so much to do with the typeface having improper spacing as much as it does with it lacking all the appropriate widths from very condensed to semi-extended. 

In terms of aesthetics, Clearview Highway easily has FHWA Series Gothic beat hands down in terms of glyph harmony. While there is a lot of nostalgia reserved for the 1950's era typeface, technically and artistically it is inferior to Clearview.

The numerals are the only thing going for FHWA Series Gothic. And even there, not all the numerals are all that great. The "2" is pretty weird on that curve down towards the flat terminal on the bottom. The "6" is pretty odd looking at any weight. The "8" is out of balance with its squished top oval and the round bottom oval.

Quote from: hbelkins
Sometimes I think I'm the only one who does not become apoplectic when Helvetica or Arial or some other font shows up on a road sign.

I use Helvetica Neue a LOT on various kinds of institutional and way-finding signs. The wealth of weights and widths combined with its very clean and neutral appearance just make it work for so many things. Perhaps that's one reason why some designers hate Helvetica with such a passion. Designers try a lot of different typefaces to see if they'll fit in a project and then after all that experimentation they end up gnashing their teeth and reverting to Helvetica. The work has to get done already and Helvetica works for so many things.

But with that being said, Helvetica doesn't work for traffic signs. The characters are too "closed" and the spacing is just too tight.

On the other hand I just detest Arial. Even though the latest version probably has over 1,000 glyphs I still can't stand how it looks. It's just a much more ugly looking typeface made to fit Helvetica spacing proportions.

IMHO, those states who already spent the money converting to Clearview ought to be able to keep using it if they feel like doing so. Otherwise FHWA Series Gothic should be the default traffic signs typeface.

However, if the powers that be want FHWA Series Gothic to truly perform at Clearview levels they will need to completely redraw that type family and deliver new "cuts" of it. The current cuts kind of suck. And they're missing a lot of features. Add to that the fact the lowercase letters fall just short of that 3/4 cap letter height requirement. If they want the lowercase letters to be something like 7/8 the cap letter height like Clearview they'll really have to redraw the whole thing. If they go to that trouble they might as well extend the character range to include a variety of fraction sets, native small capitals, foreign language support and more like most other contemporary type families are doing now.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 01:01:32 AM by Bobby5280 »
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #288 on: June 10, 2014, 01:16:22 AM »

That Illinois example depicts one of my other pet peeves of the Clearview font. IMO, the capital letter should be taller, or at least as tall as the lowercase letters.  Not maintaining that relationship cheapens the look of the sign...makes it seem sloppy (or artsy depending on the point of view) and less "official".
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jakeroot

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #289 on: June 10, 2014, 01:57:21 AM »

That Illinois example depicts one of my other pet peeves of the Clearview font. IMO, the capital letter should be taller, or at least as tall as the lowercase letters.  Not maintaining that relationship cheapens the look of the sign...makes it seem sloppy (or artsy depending on the point of view) and less "official".

To me, the word shape that the FHWA alphabets form are less friendly than the circle that Clearview forms:



From a technical standpoint, the above probably doesn't play much of a role. But in regards to friendliness and aesthetics, circular shapes tend to be better
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 02:00:40 AM by jake »
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #290 on: June 10, 2014, 02:45:48 AM »

I think the perceived "friendliness" of the Clearview fonts has to do with the larger counter spaces. You can still see it in all-caps signage, where Clearview forms a more rectangular outline.

Which is kind of a problem; a sign reading "DO NOT BLOCK INTERSECTION" looks more like it means it in FHWA series than it does in Clearview. (The pre-1948 block fonts look even sterner.)
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #291 on: June 10, 2014, 09:29:58 AM »

I don't know about anyone else but the below example along the PA Turnpike makes the case (IMHO) where application of Clearview font actually makes a sign's message harder to read (forget the fact that the examples only involve numerals, caps, negative contrast & Series D (for the FHWA example)):

EMERGENCY STOPPING 1500 FT. in Clearview

EMERGENCY STOPPING 1500 FT. in Series D
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #292 on: June 10, 2014, 10:19:10 AM »

Add to that the fact the lowercase letters fall just short of that 3/4 cap letter height requirement.
I believe the MUTCD specifies ¾ lowercase loop height. The loop letters (a, c, e, etc.) are 0.75× cap height, and the other lowercase letters (e.g. x) are 0.73× cap height. (See page 9-5 of Standard Alphabets.)
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #293 on: June 10, 2014, 02:01:13 PM »

When griping about fonts, remember that it could always be worse.

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #294 on: June 10, 2014, 02:28:11 PM »

Add to that the fact the lowercase letters fall just short of that 3/4 cap letter height requirement.
I believe the MUTCD specifies ¾ lowercase loop height. The loop letters (a, c, e, etc.) are 0.75× cap height, and the other lowercase letters (e.g. x) are 0.73× cap height. (See page 9-5 of Standard Alphabets.)

I've been assuming that was a mistake by whoever wrote that.  it has always been said that the "lowercase loop height" is ¾ of the capital letter height, and I always took that to mean the same thing as x-height; the lowercase loops naturally extend slightly above that ¾ line the same way they naturally extend slightly below the baseline, and the same way round uppercase letters extend above the caps height line and below the baseline.  If indeed it has really always meant that the measure from the baseline to the absolute top of lowercase loops, slightly above the x-height line, is defined to be ¾ of the capital letter height, then that's a really awkward specification.  That would be like specifying the width of a speed limit sign as the measure from the outer physical edge on the left to the outer edge of the inset border on the right.  Sure, one can work from such a specification, but why would anyone specify it that way?
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #295 on: June 11, 2014, 03:27:07 PM »

Quote from: Scott5114
Which glyphs, in particular, do you feel "need to be fixed"? I have heard from several people that the FHWA fonts are "clunky" or "outdated/less modern" or "ugly", but I've never really heard specifics as to why they feel that way. I will agree that on most series, the lowercase "w" is ghastly, but that's the only character in particular I have noticed as being particularly ugly. It should be noted that while the uppercase characters were designed back in the 1940s, for all series other than E(M), the lower-case letters were designed much more recently (I want to say 2000 or so). I understand that "modern" fonts usually incorporate variance in stroke width as Clearview does, but I would guess that a consistent stroke width is more legible.

Glyphs I don't like in FHWA Series Gothic.

In the uppercase range I think the "G" is downright terrible. It stinks in the Series E weight and it only gets worse as the weights get more narrow. The "O" is funky looking. Honestly, the uppercase "S" the only curved letter in FHWA Series Gothic that looks the slightest bit attractive at all. Normally a typeface should retain some harmony in its angled A, K, M, N, V, W, X, Y and Z characters. FHWA Series Gothic has none of this harmony. And in the area where it's most expected, between the V and W characters, the angles have no resemblance to each other. The "v" and "w" relationship is better in the lowercase range, but too many of the lowercase letters have all sorts of clunky, crooked looking issues. Overall, it's just a butt-ugly looking typeface. Familiarity and nostalgia are the only factors helping it.

Some people here like to take pot shots at Font Bureau's Interstate type family, but all of its curved letters are way better drawn than those in FHWA Series Gothic. The V & W relationship still kind of stinks. But even Interstate's numerals look better. Unfortunately Interstate is not a workable substitute for FHWA Series Gothic. It's not so much to do with the typeface having improper spacing as much as it does with it lacking all the appropriate widths from very condensed to semi-extended. 

In terms of aesthetics, Clearview Highway easily has FHWA Series Gothic beat hands down in terms of glyph harmony. While there is a lot of nostalgia reserved for the 1950's era typeface, technically and artistically it is inferior to Clearview.

The numerals are the only thing going for FHWA Series Gothic. And even there, not all the numerals are all that great. The "2" is pretty weird on that curve down towards the flat terminal on the bottom. The "6" is pretty odd looking at any weight. The "8" is out of balance with its squished top oval and the round bottom oval.

This is some very good information, and useful. Thank you. I can definitely see a lot of the things you mention with some experimentation in Inkscape. It would be trivial to ensure the X/Y pair match (just lop off the bottom half of an X and add a stem for a new Y, which doesn't look too out-of-place). FHWA "K" is downright quirky; I've never seen a K that looks like that any other typeface. I can recognize the issue with the "8", but I haven't really found a resolution to it that doesn't look more out of balance.

However, some of these criticisms would apply to other popular typefaces, including Helvetica, which has different angles for V and W (Futura has similar angles between the two characters). I cannot resolve the incongruity here without the result looking like something like the Arial "W", which I think everyone can agree is a monstrous construction that should be burned at the stake. In both Helvetica and Futura, the curves of "G" mimic those in "O", which applies to FHWA Series as well. Since you criticized both "G" and "O", it's reasonable to believe that your dislike of "O" is linked to your dislike of G, but it is an example of glyph harmony.

I agree that the official FHWA lowercase glyphs leave something to be desired. However, there are alternate glyphs which are out there somewhere, which have surfaced in places like Iowa, that are much nicer looking, although I have yet to analyze them as you have the official glyphs.

Quote
However, if the powers that be want FHWA Series Gothic to truly perform at Clearview levels they will need to completely redraw that type family and deliver new "cuts" of it. The current cuts kind of suck. And they're missing a lot of features. Add to that the fact the lowercase letters fall just short of that 3/4 cap letter height requirement. If they want the lowercase letters to be something like 7/8 the cap letter height like Clearview they'll really have to redraw the whole thing. If they go to that trouble they might as well extend the character range to include a variety of fraction sets, native small capitals, foreign language support and more like most other contemporary type families are doing now.

As mentioned before, though, FHWA cannot do many of these things because they do not create a software implementation of the fonts. They merely offer the characters in PDF form and spacing tables, and it's up to professional type foundries to create a TTF/OTF file from this specification. Fractions are implemented by specifying the height of each element and arranging them manually (something which is apparently done automatically by GuidSIGN/SignCAD). There would likely be some backlash if FHWA developed true foreign language support—Greek, Cyrillic, and Arabic characters would be right out, since there's little conceivable use for them in the US, and it would be an easy political talking point to say "FHWA is spending your tax dollars on fonts for foreign countries". They could offer diacritics, however, fairly easily; all it would require is drawing the diacritic marks themselves, leaving them to be combined by the type foundries, and could be justified as being useful in Spanish- and French-derived place names. I agree, however, that a small-caps set for at least E(M) is something that would improve the font, and could be done by FHWA.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #296 on: June 11, 2014, 03:33:44 PM »

Also, I think FHWA Series probably has a leg up on the weird typeface (called Transact) used to print slot machine tickets...


The thermal printing process cleans it up a bit; the raw TTF letterforms are much uglier.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #297 on: June 11, 2014, 06:29:32 PM »

Also, I think FHWA Series probably has a leg up on the weird typeface (called Transact) used to print slot machine tickets...


The thermal printing process cleans it up a bit; the raw TTF letterforms are much uglier.

That actually looks like a horizontally stretched Series B.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #298 on: June 11, 2014, 07:16:47 PM »

That actually looks like a horizontally stretched Series B.

to add to that: it looks like the stretched font on the large text can be seen in unstretched form on the line that says ZERO DOLLAR AND ELEVEN CENTS.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #299 on: June 11, 2014, 07:21:34 PM »

This is some very good information, and useful. Thank you. I can definitely see a lot of the things you mention with some experimentation in Inkscape. It would be trivial to ensure the X/Y pair match (just lop off the bottom half of an X and add a stem for a new Y, which doesn't look too out-of-place).

this is actually the case with BPR 1926 (the old block font).

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FHWA "K" is downright quirky; I've never seen a K that looks like that any other typeface.

see again: BPR 1926, and some of the actual implementations.  I think 1948 is identical to one of the more popular 1926 variants.  I will have to check.

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However, some of these criticisms would apply to other popular typefaces, including Helvetica,

and here's where I lose you.  am I the only one that finds Helvetica to be positively garish?  never mind the tiny-to-moderate differences between Helvetica and Arial and the other ones in that family - I even think Clearview looks a lot better than Helvetica.

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As mentioned before, though, FHWA cannot do many of these things because they do not create a software implementation of the fonts. They merely offer the characters in PDF form and spacing tables, and it's up to professional type foundries to create a TTF/OTF file from this specification.

I have seen lengths-and-radii specifications of all the uppercase series (A-F), and the lowercase EM.  so there is definitely would be a canonical implementation - if it weren't for the fact that the lengths and radii are occasionally overspecified and contradictory.  the only glyphs I've ever constructed from these definitions are Series A uppercase and numbers: I had a hell of a time with "8" and used the drawing to resolve the issues to a best approximation.
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