Professor Emeritus of Mathematics (Mathematics Education), Towson University
granddaughters: Maya Rose Sweet (current photos)
Isla Lauren Abena Shirley (current photos–password protected)
Welcome! (each item below has many relevant links–most external links should work, but links within this site do not work yet–they will be fixed later)
Mathematics and Mathematics Education Astronomy
MY PAST (-1988)
Here are a few links, all connected with some of my professional and personal interests. Others are included in my biography below. Mathematics and Mathematics Education
—-mathematics organizations and programs
Links to professional organizations (conferences, publications, membership, further related links, etc.):
——Fourth International Conference on Ethnomathematics (ICEM-4) (at Towson, July 25-30, 2010) ICEM-5 was in Maputo, Mozambique, July 7-11, 2014. ICEM-6 will be in Colombia in 2018.
Towson University mathematics education programs:
—-mathematics history and news
See MathWorld Headline News for recent developments in mathematics research.
A good source for information on history of mathematics and more than 2000 biographies of mathematicians, with related topics Similarly, here is a collection of biographies of about 130 women mathematicians and this offers information on mathematicians of the African diaspora. ————and also mathematicians of the day.
Convergence–a web magazine of mathematics, history, and teaching, from the MAA
—-ethnomathematics and mathematics culture
You can find words for one to ten in over 5000 languages(!) here.
RadicalMath looks at blending mathematics content and issues of social justice. Rethinking Schools looks more generally at bringing social issues in the classroom. Similarly, the Algebra Project considers algebra and the opportunity to learn mathematics as civil rights.
Here is a growing file of examples of mathematical fiction of all types (novels, movies, tv, etc.), with some reviews from a mathematical point of view.
Mathematics Awareness Month comes every April. For 2017, it was called “Math and Statistics Awareness”.
My presentations on “Numbers and Culture” and “Number Words”, with some interesting number-related links
Eric Weisstein’s World of Mathematics is an excellent resource on mathematics content.
numberphile (videos about interesting number facts)
Interlinked proofs of fundamental mathematics: the Metamath Proof Explorer
Many useful formulae, mostly math but some chemistry and physics also.
Index of world units and measures (including mudu and tiya); more general index of all kinds of sizes; measurement units Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013–a collection of articles, etc. on applications of mathematics in various earth studies
This link has info and lists on Mersenne primes and perfect numbers (latest updates–49th found in Jan 2016, first since Jan 2013). Here are lists of primes, twin primes, etc.
PI: This is a lot of pi–playing with the strings of the digits. Here is an article with some mathematical background on strings of pi digits . Pi has now been calculated to ten trillion decimal places (reported in October 2011). This is a collection of long decimal expansions of several famous irrational numbers. Here is a page of binary digit pi. AND: Find strings of digits in pi. –Here is a pi chant –Here is a video of calculating pi with pies. –In 1897, the Indiana legislature considered legislation to make pi = 3, but wisdom prevailed and the bill was voted down. –In 1 Kings 7:23 in the Bible, a round water container is described as “ten cubits from one brim to the other” and “thirty cubits did compass it round about” which implied pi=3, but Biblical scholars have argued the width of the brims affects the result. –And: count the letters of each word in this poem to get pi to twenty decimal places: Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling In mystic force and magic spelling Celestial sprites elucidate All my own striving can’t relate.
Here’s a way of visualizing BIG numbers by counting pennies. Also, be sure to follow some of the links at the end for terminology and more sense of BIG numbers.
The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse is a huge and growing collection of lesson ideas, documents, etc. on mathematics and science education (it is now a subscription site).
The link to the Math Forum@Drexel offers a rich search facility for more mathematics education resources, problems, homework help, etc.
A good collection of resource links–history, recreation, fun, etc.
This is a great collection of virtual manipulatives for various mathematics topics at all levels of K-12.
…and my course webpages (these may not open since they are based on my discontinued Towson University webpage): —-MATH 204 Concepts of Mathematics for Teachers I —-MATH 323 Teaching Mathematics in Elementary School —-MATH 301/501 History of Mathematics —-MATH 428 Senior Seminar in Mathematics Education —-MATH 602 Cultural and Philosophical Background of Mathematics —-MATH 602-Howard County —-MATH 602-Southern Maryland —-SEMS 250 Perspectives in Science and Mathematics
Here is the astronomy picture of the day.
A trip from Earth (Mt Everest) to the edge of the known universe (video)
The World of Science (with sections on Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Math, and Scientific Biography).
Much information on the largest dwarf planet Eris (formerly 2003-UB-313) (from the discoverer’s own website). This is the object that is bigger than Pluto and pushed the debate that removed Pluto from the list of planets.
Here is a live view of the earth from the International Space Station, with a map showing the real-time location of the ISS This link tells when you can see the ISS passing overhead
I am a member of the Planetary Society, whose link offers astronomical pictures and other resource materials on space.
This link goes to the Space Telescope Science Institute (in Baltimore), the home of the Hubble Telescope. It has information, news, activities, and pictures from Hubble.
Lunar phases for 1800 to 2199 …And this is a page on eclipses (maps, timetables, etc). Here is a world map of light pollution and this is a world map of city lights This allows you to get a picture of the Earth centered wherever you want or with other locational features.
Bad Astronomy debunks errors and myths, clarifies facts, and includes interesting notes.
This should be everything you need to know about the solar system and another general collection of astronomical information: the Electronic Sky
This provides a collection of models of the solar system. On a bigger scale, here is a best-guess sketch of our galactic neighborhood and an Atlas of the Universe (actual locations–NOT an observational sky map; see the next items for that).
This is a great interactive sky map, including current locations of the sun, the moon (with correct phase), and planets–and with zoom capability. Photopic Sky Survey
And here is a guide to the night sky this week and related links. Here is a collection of more online planetarium and sky map services, notably, Sky View Cafe . Here is SkyTonight, a collection of news and observation information.
Here are basic almanac data
Time and date: a good resource for localizable data on time, calendar, time-zones,sun/moon, etc.
Africa and the World
“Ex Africa semper aliquid novi” (There is always something new from Africa) —Pliny the Elder (Rome, 23-79 CE)
Information about Africa: country info, politics, culture, food, African Studies, conferences, other Internet resources, K-12 materials, links to Africa, etc.
This is a good source of African news from AllAfrica.com.
Africa Action informs and lobbies on African issues.
Here are some pages about Ghana (each with more links): from Penn State African Studies; Ghanaian cooking; and adinkra. Here is a dictionary of Ghanaian slang (Twi and English) (I had more links, but several have closed; I will look for replacements).
Helping to get global education into K-12 classrooms: Global Education News
This goes to the Africa-America Institute
The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa encourages support for African universities. The webpage also has many useful links. The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, with help from a matching grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is supporting four universities in Nigeria: Ahmadu Bello, Ibadan, Bayero, and Port Harcourt.
The World Factbook has almanac-like data on all countries.
I have visited such diverse places as Timbuktu, the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, Copacabana/Ipanema Beaches, the Ginza, the Alhambra, Budapest, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bagdad (Arizona!), the Grand Canyon (most recently in August 2007), and the Sydney Opera House In summer 2009, I visited China and saw the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the terracotta warriors, Shanghai’s Pudong, and other places. In summer of 2010, Stonehenge was added to this list, and 2012 took me to Loch Ness in Scotland. I was in Soweto in 2014 and visited the Berlin Wall in 2016.
The kid in me still likes the comics in the newspaper. My favorites: Peanuts, Doonesbury, Mother Goose and Grimm, For Better or For Worse (FBoFW), Pearls before Swine, and Garfield. Here are old Calvin and Hobbs.
I am a member of Towson United Methodist Church, (TUMC) where I chaired the Worship Work Area committee 2002-07 and served as chair of the Parish-Staff Relations Committee 2009-10. I occasionally serve as an usher or liturgist. Here are “unbound Bible” (an online searchable Bible in various translations and languages) and a searchable online Qur’an. The Metanexus Institute is an organization devoted to advancing research, education and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion. Here is the webpage of public radio’s “On Being” program with Krista Tippett. In Washington, I like to visit the National Cathedral.
Peacemakers: Matthew 5:9 (Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God), Qur’an 49:10 (Make peace between your brethren and be careful of (your duty to) Allah that mercy may be had on you.), Isaiah 2:4 (they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more) Peace Corps, the Carter Center, American Friends Service Committee
“Let There Be Peace on Earth” (song)
Roots, Family, and Education I am originally from Arizona (see Arizona Highways), growing up in Flagstaff and Mesa. Arizona celebrated its centennial of statehood on February 14, 2012. My father’s family had moved from Virginia to South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Arizona between the late 1700s and early 20th century. The Shirley Association genealogical website shows my great-grandfather, Joseph Jonathan Shirley, and four generations before him. My mother’s family had lived mostly in upstate New York for several generations (some genealogy references). My ethnicity is mostly Anglo-Saxon from my father’s side and a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Dutch-German, and one-eighth Irish from my mother’s side. My late wife, Alberta, was Akan (Akuapim) and Kyerepong (Guan) from her mother’s side and Fante from her father’s side.
My late father, Robert Shirley, (1920-2003)was a journalist, working at the Arizona Daily Sun (in Flagstaff) and then, for 27 years, as editor of the Mesa Tribune.
My mother Shirley A Shirley, passed away on January 11, 2015, at age 94. She had been a homemaker, but also managed at the school bookstore of Carson Junior High and volunteered at the Mesa Southwest Museum (now the Arizona Museum of Natural History) and, for over thirty years, at the Banner Mesa Medical Center until it closed in 2007. Both of my parents served in the Army in Europe in World War II.
My brother, Don Shirley, is a free-lance writer (theatre, travel, etc.) in Los Angeles. He formerly wrote for the Theater section of the Los Angeles Times and was the theatre critic for the (now-closed) L.A. City Beat and L.A. Stage Times (on hiatus). He now reviews theatre for L.A. Observed. His wife, Ellen Switkes, led the storytelling program, Cornucopia, in Los Angeles; she continues to work with story-telling and tutoring.
Here is information on my late wife and our children.
I was in the first graduating class of Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona (here is my class reunion site). I received my B.S. (History [History alumni] and Mathematics) (double major) degree from the California Institute of Technology, my M.Ed. (Comparative and International Education) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and my Ph.D. (Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics Education) at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. (The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, with help from a matching grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is supporting Ahmadu Bello University and four other Nigerian universities.)
Life in West Africa
I lived in West Africa for a total of about eighteen years. The first three years, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer [service statement] [I’m now a member of the National Peace Corps Association; here is the Peace Corps Library] in Sierra Leone [Here is the page for Friends of Sierra Leone]. I taught secondary school mathematics in Bonthe (Bonthe 71+/-2 group )for two years and lived for a year in Bo as I organized teacher workshops throughout the Southern Province. After a brief stay in the US, I returned to West Africa and stayed for fifteen years, teaching mathematics education and serving as head of the Mathematics Education Section of the Department of Education at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria, Nigeria (here is Friends of Nigeria). I also worked on several projects developing and implementing mathematics curricula for all levels of Nigerian schools. In recognition of my work in Nigerian mathematics education, I was elected a Fellow of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria. After we moved to the US in 1988, we occasionally visited
Ghana (my wife and son went there in the summer of 2005; my children, their families, and I went for my wife’s memorial ceremonies in 2010; mostly recently I visited there in 2013 and 2016), where we have a house in Koforidua, my wife‘s hometown.
More general Africa links.
MY PRESENT [See also my CV/resume and/or my short narrative biography]
I worked at Towson University (2016 Strategic Plan and its Guiding Principles), in Towson, Maryland, just north of Baltimore, (more Baltimore news, info) 1989-2015.
I retired from Towson University as of January 1, 2016.
Teaching I am a professor emeritus of the Mathematics Department. I taught History of Mathematics [course page], as well as methodology and content courses for teachers. I developed and taught Senior Seminar in Mathematics Education [course page] and a graduate course on Cultural and Philosophical Background of Mathematics [course page]. I taught this course for Towson’s program in Shanghai, China, in Summer 2009. Also, I have supervised student teachers. After working as an administrator in the Graduate College for more than a decade, I returned to teaching in Fall 2012
(Before coming to Towson, I taught for one year (1988-89) in the Mathematics Department at Northern Illinois University, and prior to that, I taught mathematics education courses for fifteen years at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.)
I was honored by being named College Professor of the Year for 1997 of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
I maintain an interest in ethnomathematics that I developed while living in West Africa, and am the Past-President of the North American Study Group on Ethnomathematics (NASGEm) and a member of the Board of the International Study Group on Ethnomathematics (ISGEm). I was the Chief Organizer of the Fourth International Conference on Ethnomathematics, held in Baltimore in July 2010, and I have attended all five of the ICEMs, most recently in Maputo, Mozambique in 2014.. I served as co-chair of the ethnomathematics Topic Study Group at the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education in Seoul, South Korea in July 2012, and will again serve in that role for the 13th International Congress on Mathematical Education, in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2016. Also, I gave an invited plenary address at the Fourth Brazilian Ethnomathematics Conference in Belem, Brazil, in November 2012
My writings and presentations have included examples of mathematics in African culture, the use of algorithms by unschooled Nigerians, applications of ethnomathematics in mathematics classrooms, and the use of ethnomathematics in teacher education. I have spoken on ethnomathematics at many national and regional meetings of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and state meetings of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Earlier, I spoke on “Ethnomathematics in Teacher Education” at the First International Conference of Ethnomathematics (ICEM-1) in Spain in 1998 and led a roundtable discussion on teacher education at ICEM-2 in Brazil in 2002. I spoke at the ICEM-3 in New Zealand in 2006, on “Ethnomathematics in Global Education Programs”. I made a presentation entitled “Ethnomathematics: A Fundamental of Instructional Methodology” at the International Congress of Mathematical Education (ICME-9) in Japan in 2000, and on “Ethnomathematics Looks Back and Looks Forward” at ICME-11 in Mexico in 2008. At ICEM-5 in 2014, I spoke about a special class assignment to have students look into their own cultures and find mathematics. My continuing interest in Africa led me to the National Summit on Africa in February 2000. I am a member of the Advisory Panel of the Ethnomathematics Digital Library, part of an NSF project for a National Science Digital Library. Also, I have made numerous general presentations on ethnomathematics and multicultural mathematics, including two for International Studies Schools Association conferences, and two presentations (2011, 2013) at Towson’s annual Gissendanner Symposia on African and African-American Studies. [See also my CV/resume and/or my short narrative biography]
I have spoken at numerous national and regional conferences of the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), state meetings of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM), and other local, national, and international conferences and seminars. I presented a talk on “Number Words” at the MCTM 2007conference. Some previous talks were on using costumes in the history of mathematics (NCTM 1999), the history of mathematics education in the 20th century (NCTM 2000), the overlapping histories of mathematics and astronomy (MCTM 2001), “Believing in Impossible Mathematics” (several versions: MCTM 2002, NCTM Eastern Regional 2004, and NCTM 2005). Other presentations are mentioned above in the “Ethnomathematics” section. My most recent publication was a group of eight articles included in the The Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society. Earlier, I had a jointly-written article in The Centroid, on Thomas Fuller, a slave in 18th century Virginia, who had remarkable calculation abilities. My paper from ICME-9 appears in the 2001/3 issue of ZDM (International Review of Mathematics Education). Other publications are “History of Mathematics in the 20th Century: A Brief Review of the Century” in the January 2000 Teaching Mathematics in the Middle School, and “A Visit from Pythagoras–Using Costumes in the Classroom” in the November 2000 Mathematics Teacher (based on part of my NCTM ’99 presentation). Other publications include articles based on my ICEM presentations in the Proceedings of both the 1998 and 2002 conferences, a contribution to the 1995 NCTM Yearbook, Connecting Mathematics Across the Curriculum, and two articles in NCTM journals: “Nominals: Numbers as Names” in the December 1995 Teaching Children Mathematics and “Activities from African Calendar and Time Customs” in the Jan/Feb 1996 Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. I also contribute occasional book reviews for Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School and the online Convergence My current interests include the history of 20th Century mathematics education, dramatizations of history of mathematics, the ethnomathematics of “kid culture,” and the use of primes and factors in problem solving exercises. I have worked on an outline of a proposed textbook (and possible web-based course) on the history and culture of mathematics. I also have done archival work on local history of mathematics.
Administration and Professional Service
From 2001 to 2011, I served as Associate and Acting Dean of the Graduate Studies (and did some teaching). In January 2012, I returned to the Mathematics Department. I was on sabbatical in Spring Semester of 2012 and resumed full teaching in Fall 2012. Previously I was Assistant Chair of the Mathematics Department (January 1998-June 1999; 2000-2001) and Acting Chair (1999-2000). I return to being Assistant Chair for 2013-2015. I directed the Master of Science in Mathematics Education degree program 1998-2001. In the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics (FCSM), I formerly represented the Mathematics Department on the College Council, and served two years as the Chair of the Council. While in the Graduate College, I was an ex-officio member of the Graduate Studies Committee. I formerly served on the Teacher Education Executive Board, the General Education Sub-Committee, and the University Promotions and Tenure Committee (Chair in 2000-2001). During 1996-97, I participated in the Towson Leadership Institute, which involved retreats and seminars on the functioning of the university. Outside the university, I served as the Maryland State Director for the American Mathematics Competitions–8 between 1991 and 2004.
In 2000, I was honored to receive the University and Professional Service Award from the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.
Here are some references on graduate education in general and at Towson University.
[See also my CV/resume and/or my short narrative biography]
In March of 2010, I was widowed, after almost 36 years of marriage, with the passing of my wife, Alberta. I have two grown children and a grown step-daughter. The photo on the left (from 2007) has me and my wife in front, our daughter and son-in-law and our son and daughter-in-law behind us. The photo on the right (Dec 2013) shows our four-generation line: my mother, myself, my daughter, and generation four–my granddaughter.
My late wife, Alberta Ohenewah Shirley, came from Koforidua, Ghana [several Ghana sites seem to have shut down, but I hope to have new ones listed soon; this is on Koforidua]. A few months before her death, she was honored on her 20th anniversary of being employed as a crew trainer at our local McDonald’s restaurant. Earlier, she was a baker–helping in her mother’s bread business in Koforidua, and then supplying small cakes to many shops and kiosks in Zaria/Samaru, Nigeria. She passed away on March 21, 2010, after suffering from liver cancer.
My son,Jefferson Kodwo Robert Shirley, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education from Michigan State University (his very old website has old family photos) and did additional graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2008, he completed an MBA degree at San Jose State University. He gained tenure in the mathematics faculty at De Anza College in “Silicon Valley” of northern California (old DeAnza site) (here is his blog). In 2005, he was in Ghana and contributed to a travel blog (photos). He and Lauren Hall-Lew (blog) were married in December 2006 (here are some photos; and nearly the full set–about 300!). They now live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Lauren teaches sociolinguistics at the University of Edinburgh and he is a Senior Advisor for Visiting Students. In March 2014, they adopted a 1 1/2-year-old girl, Isla (born August 21, 2012; password-protected photos; more information on her later). Their cat, Geordi, now lives in Towson with me.
My daughter, Emily Abena Juliana Sweet (an old blog from 2008), is the Director of the La Petite pre-school at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which she led to accreditation by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. She is a graduate of Towson University, with a B.S. in Family Studies. In August 2004, she married Jamaar Sweet, with a wedding in Hawaii. (Here are photos). Jamaar is a program specialist at a home for troubled youths and also does kung fu. Their daughter, Maya, was born May 1, 2008, and had to have heart surgery at 6 days old. She is now doing fine. (early photos) (most recent) The first two photos below were when she was about an hour old (with Dad and Mom); and about six months (with Grandpa).
The third photo is our family after Alberta’s memorial service in Ghana in August 2010. The last is as Maya started kindergarten at Roland Park Elementary-Middle School in August 2013. She is a fan of the Disney princesses and the My Little Ponies.
My wife’s daughter, Takyiwah Afua Matilda Adisi, is the mother of four and lives in Koforidua, Ghana. She has a taxi business and also runs a business of selling bottled water and renting party supplies.
Lawrence H. Shirley
Phone 410-825-1328 (with answering machine)
FAX: 410-704-4149 (This is general for the Towson Mathematics Department, so be sure to indicate the message is for me)
<strong)—alternative email: LawrenceHShirley@gmail.com (be sure to include my middle initial “H”)
New personal webpage: http://lawrencehoytshirley.com–but it doesn’t yet have any content!
Here is a mapthat shows Towson University andalso my home (marked with astar) at 854 Bosley Avenue, Towson MD 21204-2610 Here is a map that shows Towson University and also my home (marked with an arrow) at 854 Bosley Avenue, Towson MD 21204-2610
As of January 1, 2016, I am retired from Towson University; I was granted emeritus status in April 2016.
Partially updated on 22 July 2017
All links were checked and updated as necessary on 1 March 2012. Links within this site do not work, but will be fixed later.
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(most are for conference presentations unless otherwise indicated)
ethnomath ; ethnomathematics (similar to ethnomath (above) but with history and more links); ethnomathematics in global education programs–for ICEM-3 ; ethnomath looks back and looks forward–for ICME-11 ;
index (the original of this page)
math 204 (Concepts of Mathematics for Teachers I); math301 (“History of Mathematics” course page); math 323 Teaching Mathematics in Elementary School ; math602 (“Cultural and Philosophical Background of Mathematics” course page); math602China (similar to the regular MATH 602 course page, but modified for 3-week pattern and Chinese offering; math602indep (similar to the regular MATH 602 course page, but arranged for the independent study offering); math602ten-week (similar to the regular MATH 602 course page, but arranged for a 10-week pattern of 3:45 classes); math602southernmaryland (also the 10-week format, but straddling the holiday break–for southern Maryland); math602revised10week (arranged for nine class meetings); sems250 (Perspectives in Science and Mathematics)
puns (collected from various sources)
resume (a brief c.v.)
seniorseminar (course page for MATH 428)
my about.me page ; LawrenceHoytShirley.com ; my LinkedIn page ; my Facebook profile page; facebook.com/lawrence.shirley ; ICEM-4 Facebook page ; my Peace Corps Connect page ; Geordi’s CatBook homepage
Lawrence Hoyt Shirley
Larry (with a “w”)
547 (read it upside down!)
Really; when is rec?—Where is clan lyre?—Nearly his crewel (anagrams, but not very good!)
Wכfa Yaw (Akan-Twi, from Ghana: Uncle Yaw=Thursday male)
薛立人 (Xue Li Ren) (Mandarin name, given by students, from a phrase about kindness by Confucius)
Bahago(Hausa for left-handed, from northern Nigeria)
Lahai Challey (Mende name, from Sierra Leone)
Λόρενς Σίρλυ (Greek script: Lawrence Shirley)
Лoренc Ширлй (Cyrillic script: Lawrence Shirley)
(Arabic script: Lawrence Shirley–right to left) لورانس شيرلي
(Hebrew script: Lawrence Shirley–right to left) לורנס שירלי
로렌스 셜리 (Korean script: Lawrence Shirley)
लाव्रेंस शिरली (Devanagari [Hindi] script: Lawrence Shirley)
• ― •• | • ― | • ― ― | •― •| • |― • |― • ― • | • | | •••|••••|••|• ―•|•― ••|•|― •― ― (International Morse Code)
|01010011|01101000|01101001|01110010|01101100|01100101|01111001|00001101 (binary code)
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