The Risks Digest

The RISKS Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Volume 12 Issue 22

Tuesday 3 September 1991

Contents

o Madison mail mess-up
Tom Slone
o RISKS of using electronic mail, and universal addressing
David Parnas
o Re: +&*#$
Tom Blinn
o Re: Study Recommends Earthquake Warning Network
Floyd Ferguson
o Re: Risks of Risk Perception Research
William P Gardner
Craig Seidel
o Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems, Advance program
Lorenzo Strigini
o DIAC-92 CALL FOR PAPERS AND PARTICIPATION
Douglas Schuler
o Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Madison mail mess-up

Tom Slone <potency@violet.berkeley.edu>
Mon, 2 Sep 91 17:12:04 PDT
Madison, Nebraska is reportedly in the midst of automating is mail system, but
the automation has reportedly force people to change their addresses
repeatedly.  The conversion will reportedly be finished by 1995!  Meanwhile
residents are not usre if they're getting all their mail.  Residents of the
town of Madison are forced to have their mail delivered to boxes rather than
their homes, but some rural routes have street addresses.  One resident, Mary
Duby, has three addresses listed in the phone book due to the apparently due to
the postal automation: two boxes and a street address.  Duby said, "What a
mess.  Originally I had a street address.  Then I had a mailbox put up and I
was put on the rural route."  [Source: an AP story reported in the San Jose
Mercury News 2Sep91]


RISKS of using electronic mail

David Parnas <parnas@qusunt.Eng.McMaster.CA>
Tue, 3 Sep 1991 14:24:54 -0400
Many of us have become dependent on electronic mail as vehicle for serious
discussions.  Our addresses become widely distributed and stored in many
colleague's mail files.  This is a serious exposure to risk.  If one moves one
may find that one's former employer feels insulted by the announcement that one
has moved on to other pastures and refuses to forward electronic mail.  The
incorrect mail address may persist in electronic files for many years and those
who write to you may find that you are an "unknown user".  What is needed is a
personal communication system, one where the individual's address is
independent of his (or her) location on the computer network.

David Lorge Parnas                             (no longer at qucis.queensu.ca)


Re: RISKS of using electronic mail, and universal addressing

"Peter G. Neumann" <neumann@csl.sri.com>
Tue, 3 Sep 91 11:30:10 PDT
There have been various proposals for life-time unique IDs -- for EMail, for
telephone numbers, and even for Postal Delivery, that would transcend
geographical locations and relocations, etc.  All sorts of interesting problems
are raised regarding decentralized implementations and whom you have to trust
with what, what happens if one of the decentralized sites is down and whether
the implementations are suffiently fault tolerant to survive multiple outages,
what to do about authorizations and junk mail, revocation, etc.  But it
certainly would be nice.  This reminds me of some of the problems experienced
long ago in designing capability based systems where capabilities have
identifiers that are unique for the lifetime of the system.  So, there is
actually significant experience in dealing with David's suggestion, in a
broader context -- but not yet in the Internet, that wonderful sandbox of
the past that is still the sandbox of the future.


RE: +&*#$ (RISKS-12.21)

"Dr. Tom @MKO, CMG S/W Mktg, DTN 264-4865 03-Sep-1991 1419" <blinn@dr.enet.dec.com>
Tue, 3 Sep 91 11:19:42 PDT
In RISKS-FORUM Digest (Saturday 31 August 1991  Volume 12 : Issue 21), you
asked about "+&*#$" as a possible New Hampshire license plate.

While it's true that "+" (plus) and "&" (ampersand) are valid characters on
a New Hampshire license plate, as is "-" (dash or minus), I'm pretty sure
that the other characters you surmise (*, #, and $) are NOT permitted.  I'd
have to ask the DMV to be sure, however, which I can do if it's important.

I'm amused by your reference to "other nonASCII graphics" -- while it's true
that some other states use bizarre characters on license plates (such as the
Lone Star on the Texas plates, or the lobster on Maine plates), usually this
is not "user selectable".

New York State allows an embedded space character in license plates.  This is
as big a problem, I'm sure, for some other states as New Hampshire's use of the
printing but unusual characters that are accepted here.  [Live Free Or Die!]

Dr. Thomas P. Blinn, Digital Equipment Corporation, Digital Drive -- MKO2-2/F10
Merrimack, New Hampshire 03054  ...!decwrl!dr.enet.dec.com!blinn (603) 884-4865


Re: Study Recommends Earthquake Warning Network (Pereira, RISKS-12.18)

Floyd Ferguson <iphase!coromir!floydf@uunet.UU.NET>
Sat, 31 Aug 91 13:27:32 CDT
  ``More seriously, this poses all sorts of interesting RISKs issues.''

In a previous life I had occasion to work with someone who had worked on such a
project in California. The system apparently went quite far through the
development life-cycle, but then, at the very end was dumped without being
deployed.

    Such a system could be used to lower fire risks by shutting
    down natural gas and power distribution networks, to protect
    computer systems by retracting disk heads, to start a
    controlled shut down of factory processes, to divert aircraft,etc.

What happened instead was that many of those people responsible for performing
these vital functions took advantage of the early warning to leave work to be
with and protect their families. Thus, the system ended at "proof of concept",
due to the significant risks associated with loss of key personnel at exactly
the worst possible time.

Incidentally, the system apparently did use a network of sensors, but took
advantage of the fact that the shock wave moves relatively slowly (45 - 60 mph
comes to mind, but it has been a few years).
                                              Floyd Ferguson floydf@iphase.com


Risks of Risk Perception Research (Agre, RISKS-12.21)

"William P Gardner" <wpg1@unix.cis.pitt.edu>
Tue, 3 Sep 91 9:46:06 EDT
Phil Agre (pagre@weber.ucsd.edu) provides some welcome warnings about
misinterpretations of risk perception research.  I share his concern that
findings that lay people evaluate risks differently than experts are often
viewed as evidence that ``ordinary people are irrational.'' There are usually
several explanations for the discrepancy between lay and expert judgments and
the data are rarely conclusive as to which explanation is best.  Premature
attributions of irrationality are a significant risk in risk perception
research because, as Agre suggests, attributing irrational judgment to ordinary
people can make them seem responsible for the morbidity and mortality they
suffer.

This said, Agre's diagnosis of a ``hidden agenda inside the notion of `risk'''
was inaccurate.  Agre says that ``The whole rhetoric of `risk' started out as
corporate PR'' specifically the well-known advertisements by Mobil Oil.  The
concept of risk in the sense used in risk perception studies dates (at least)
from the beginnings of epidemiology and from the integration of probability
into the theory of insurance in the 18th century.  Psychological research on
risk perception and probability judgments was well established when Mobil ran
its ads.  Agre believes that it is a conclusion of risk perception research
that ``ordinary people are unwilling to accept any risk at all.'' I have never
seen a statement like this in the risk perception literature and I wonder if
Agre can find one.  Agre says that ``talk about `levels of risk' and the like
erases the distinction between the experts' assessments of risk and the
assessments that ordinary people are in a position to make.'' The point of this
field is to understand how one aspect of our positions in the world -- our
cognitive limitations and our limited access to information -- force us to
construct simplified models of the world.  All of us need to make decisions
without the benefit of professional knowledge: how do we cope? Risk assessment
research _begins_ with a distinction between the cognitive position of the
expert and lay person, it doesn't erase it.  By the way, it isn't just ordinary
people who construct simplified models: there are many studies showing that
experts also have great difficulty in judging probabilities and coping with
uncertainty.

Agre describes risk perception research as ``ideology, made into a
profession.'' I hope he sees that there are also significant empirical
phenomena that need explanations, and quickly if possible.  For example, it
appears that adolescent gay males have not adopted the safe sex norms accepted
by older gay male cohorts.  If so, why not? Health psychologists working with
these young men think that these kids believe (inaccurately!) that HIV
infection risks apply only to older gay men.  This is readily understandable:
the long incubation period of HIV infection means that an adolescent will
rarely encounter a peer with AIDS, and therefore does not perceive himself to
be at risk.  This explanation is an example of the availability heuristic, the
idea that probability judgments are affected by our ability to recall vivid
exemplars of the risk in question.  Is this really why these kids engage in
risk taking? I don't know: it is hard to design a study that can powerfully
discriminate among many competing plausible explanations.  Agre says that the
findings of discrepancies between expert and lay judgments are ``easily
explained''.  But if he wants us to believe his explanations, as opposed to the
others on offer, he will need some data that show why they are better.

Agre oversimplifies when he reduces the political implication of risk
perception research to ``corporate PR''.  Many risk perception researchers
share his desire for a ``socially responsible'' technology in which people are
``told the truth, ...able to find the world intelligible and sane, [are]
consulted about things that change their lives, [are not] subjected to hazards
without their consent, and generally [are] able to participate in collective
decisions about issues of technology and social change''.  All of these goals
will require that technical information be communicated to people who are not
specialists in the relevant technologies.  If risk perception research can
clarify how non-specialists understand risk information, we may get an idea
about how to communicate the information more clearly.

William Gardner, Law & Psychiatry Research, Department of Psychiatry,
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (wpg1@unix.cis.pitt.edu)


Re: Risks perception (RISKS-12.21)

<seidel@puma.sri.com>
Tue, 03 Sep 91 10:17:43 -0700
Phil Agre's posting reminded me of a table in "The Mission Profile," in _IEEE
Spectrum_, October, 1981.  It describes "consumer" expectations for various
systems.  I summarize (the original table had more words and a column for
availability):

  System           Representative            Useful Life
                   Failure Rates             of System
  -------------------------------------------------------------
  Automatic Teller 1 per 18mo.               >15 years
  Teller

  Telephone        3 min/yr                  >15 years

  Chemical Plant   Less than 3%              >15 years

  Electric         12 min/mo. during         >15 years
  Power sys.       excessive demand or storms

  Television Set   3-10% during warranty     7-10 years
           period.  May continue     (based on use)
               with degraded perf.

  Auto: engine     1% during warranty        life of car
  control

  Air Traffic      2.9 unsched. interrupts   >15 years
  Control          per month lasting >1 min.

  Minuteman III    1 per 1.9 billion part    up to time missle is
  missile          hours in system with      capable of striking a
           8000 critical parts       prescribed target

  Pacemaker        1 per month among         8-15 years depending
                   170,000 devices           on type of pacemaker
                    [I'm tempted to say "lifetime" but
                        that would probably be crude--CHS]

  Operating System 1/hr to 1/mo              runtime of program

I think these figures, although subjective and somewhat dated, illustrate the
range of acceptance of failure for various systems.  They are not necessarily
rational or related to any more objective ratings, such as the number of deaths
caused per year by each system (a figure hard to interpret for a Minuteman
III).  But, isn't *acceptance* of risk by *definition* a social phenomenon
rather than a scientific one?  Death is not the only metric.

The corporate PR firms that started advertising based on risk reduction
believed that safety was marketable.  Wouldn't our jobs be much easier if more
people believed that risk reduction was worth paying for?

Craig Seidel, SRI International


Advance program - Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems

Lorenzo Strigini <STRIGINI@ICNUCEVM.CNUCE.CNR.IT>
Fri, 30 Aug 91 12:05:45 MET
I am forwarding this from the Symposium chair, Luca Simoncini.  [Suggestion: use
E-mail or fax for correspondence, regular mail to/from Italy may be very slow.
Lorenzo]

THE FOLLOWING IS THE ADVANCE PROGRAM OF SRDS10 COMPLETE WITH REGISTRATION FORM
AND HOTEL RESERVATION FORM.  THESE FORMS CAN BE USED FOR REGISTRATION AND
RESERVATIONS IF YOU NEED WE WILL MAIL REGULAR PAPER ADVANCE PROGRAMS, WHICH ARE
GOING TO BE DISTRIBUTED BY REGULAR MAIL IN A FEW DAYS TO ALL COUNTRIES.

INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES TO: ETTORE RICCIARDI, IEI-CNR, Via S. Maria 46, 56126
Pisa, Italy.  tel.: +39 50 553 454, +39 50 553 443  fax: +39 50 554 342
E-mail: simon@icnucevm.cnuce.cnr.it

ADVANCE PROGRAM

Tenth Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems - SRDS10, September 30, October
1-2, 1991, Palazzo dei Congressi, Pisa, Italy

sponsored by: IEEE Computer Society, TC on Distributed Processing, AICA

in cooperation with: TC on Fault-Tolerant Computing, IFIP W.G. 10.4, IEI-CNR,
Universita' di Bologna, Universita' di Pisa, with the support of: Olivetti
S.p.A, Italy, TANDEM Computers S.p.A., Italy, ANSALDO TRASPORTI, Italy

SUNDAY, September 29, 1991

16.00 - 20.00 Registration

MONDAY, September 30, 1991

08.00 - 09.00 Registration
09.00 - 09.30 Opening Remarks: Luca Simoncini, University of Pisa
                               Ozalp Babaoglu, University of Bologna
                               Richard D. Schlichting, Univ. of Arizona

09.30 - 10.30 Keynote Speaker:Brian Randell,
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

10.30 - 11.00 Coffee Break

11.00 - 12.30 Session 1: Checkpointing & Logging Algorithms
                         Chair: Shaula Yemini, IBM, Yorktown Heights, USA

                         "Checkpointing Multicomputer Applications"
                         Kai Li, Jeffrey F. Naughton, James S. Plank, Princeton
                         University, USA

                         "A Timestamp-Based Checkpointing Protocol for
                         Long-Lived Distributed Computations"
                         Farnam Jahanian, Flaviu Cristian, IBM, San Jose', USA

                         "File System Measurements and their Applications
                         to the Design of Efficient Operation Logging
                         Algorithms"
                         David F. Bacon, University of California Berkeley,USA

12.30 - 14.00 Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 Session 2: Real-Time
                         Chair: Hermann Kopetz, Technical University of Vienna
                                Austria

                         "Masking Failures of Multidimensional Sensors"
                         Keith Marzullo, Paul Chew, Cornell University, USA

                         "A Statistical Clock Synchronization Algorithm for
                         Anisotropic Networks"
                         G. Florin, D. Couvet, S. Natkin, Centre D'Etude et
                         De Recherche En Informatique, France

                         "On the Testability of Distributed Real-Time Systems"
                         Werner Schuetz, Technical University of Vienna
                         Austria

15.30 - 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 - 17.30 Panel Session: "Fault-Tolerance in Distributed Systems: how
                             transparent can you get ?"
                             Coordinator: Shaula Yemini, IBM, Yorktown Heights
USA
19.00         Concert

20.30         Welcome Party

TUESDAY, October 1

08.00 - 09.00 Registration

09.00 - 10.30 Session 3: Backward Recovery Schemes
                         Chair: Edgar Nett, GMD, Germany

                         "Optimistic Failure Recovery for Very Large Networks"
                         Andy Lowry, James R. Russell, Arthur P. Goldberg,
                         IBM, Yorktown Heights, USA

                         "Efficient Communication of Commitment-Dependency
                         Information in the PTC Scheme for Cooperative
                         Recovery"
                         Kane Kim, J. H. You, University of California Irvine
                         USA

                         "Flexible Schemes for Application-level Fault
                         Tolerance"
                         Lorenzo Strigini, Felicita Di Giandomenico, IEI-CNR
                         Italy

10.30 - 11.00 Coffee Break

11.00 - 12.30 Session 4: Replication & Parallelism
                         Chair: Fabio Panzieri, University of Bologna, Italy

                         "A Model for Interface Groups"
                         Ed Oskiewicz, Michael H. Olsen, John Warne, ANSA, UK

                         "Formalising Replicated Distributed Processing"
                         Maciej Koutny, Luigi V. Mancini, Giuseppe Pappalardo,
                         University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

                         "On Tolerating Faults in Naturally Redundant
                         Algorithms"
                         Luiz A. Laranjeira, Miroslaw Malek, Roy Jenevain,
                         University of Texas Austin, USA

12.30 - 14.00 Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 Session 5: Dependability Modelling
                         Chair: Jean-Claude Laprie, LAAS-CNRS, France

                         "Evaluation of Bus and Ring Communication Topologies
                         for the Delta-4 Distributed Fault Tolerant
                         Architecture"
                         David Powell, Karama Kanoun, LAAS-CNRS, France

                         "Flexible Handling of Diverse Dependability
                         Requirements in MARS"
                         Heinz Kantz, Technical University of Vienna, Austria

                         "Efficient Transient Simulation of Failure/Repair
                         Markovian Models"
                         Juan A. Carrasco, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya
                         Spain

15.30 - 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 - 18.00 Session 6: Work in Progress
                         Chair: Miroslaw Malek, University of Texas Austin,USA

                         (Submissions will be solicited on the spot,
                          for short presentations;
                          there will be a selection)

20.30         Banquet

WEDNESDAY, October 2

09.00 - 10.00 Session 7: Dependability Assessment
                         Chair: David Powell, LAAS-CNRS, France

                         "Performability Evaluation of CSMA/CD and CSMA/DCR
                         Protocols under Transient Fault Conditions"
                         William Sanders, K. H. Prodromides, University of
                         Arizona, USA

                         "A study of the Reliability of Internet Sites"
                         Darrell Long, J. L. Carroll, C. J. Park, University
                         of California Santa Cruz, USA

10.00 - 10.30 Coffee Break

10.30 - 11.30 Session 8: Agreement
                         Chair: Paulo Verissimo, INESC, Portugal

                         "Ordered Broadcasts for Large Applications"
                         Tony P. Ng, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
                         USA

                         "Keeping Processes under Surveillance"
                         Thomas Becker, University of Kaiserslautern
                         Germany

11.30 - 12.30 Session 9: Garbage Collection
                         Chair: Paolo Ancilotti, University of Pisa, Italy

                         "A Fault-Tolerant, Scalable, Low-Overhead Garbage
                         Detection Protocol"
                         Marc Shapiro, INRIA, France

                         "Copying Garbage Collection for Distributed Object
                         Stores"
                         Luigi Mancini, Vittoria Rotella, Simonetta Venosa,
                         Universita' di Pisa, Italy

12.30 - 14.00 Lunch

14.00         Symposium end.
=============================================================================
SRDS10 will be held at the Palazzo dei Congressi di Pisa.
SRDS10 is in connection with the 5th International Conference on
Fault-Tolerant Computing Systems (the German FTCS), Nurnberg, 25-27 Sept. 1991
(contact Mario Dal Cin E-mail: DALCIN@INFORMATIK.UNI-ERLANGEN.DE), and with
the International Workshop on Responsive Computer Systems, Nice, France,
3-4 October 1991 (contact either Gerard Le Lann E-mail: GLL@SCORE.INRIA.FR or
Miroslaw Malek E-mail: MALEK@EMX.UTEXAS.EDU)

INFORMATION and ADVANCE PROGRAM complete with registration form and hotel
reservation form for SRDS10: contact: Luca Simoncini, IEI-CNR, Via S.Maria 46,
                                      56126 Pisa Italy
                                      fax: +39 50 554342
E-mail:SIMON@ICNUCEVM.CNUCE.CNR.IT
===============================================================================
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FullTime Students: Lit. 400.000

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Registration fee includes: the Proceedings, three working lunches, coffee
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SEND IN AN ENVELOPE TO:  ETTORE RICCIARDI
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===================================================================

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PLEASE RETURN THIS FORM WITH DEPOSIT (P.T.O)
BEFORE SEPTEMBER 2, 1991 TO:

TRE EMME CONGRESSI
VIA RISORGIMENTO 4
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===========================================
COST OF ACCOMODATIONS

HOTEL CAT      SINGLE       DOUBLE    DOUBLE AS SINGLE

   ****     LIT.163.500  LIT. 228900  LIT. 190750

   ***      LIT. 74500   LIT. 105000  LIT. 95000

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PRICES INDICATED ARE PER ROOM AND INCLUDE BREAKFAST, SERVICE CHARGES, TAXES AND
VAT.  WHEN SINGLE ROOMS ARE NO MORE AVAILABLE DOUBLE ROOMS FOR SINGLE USE WILL
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Tel: +39-50-553159 ; Fax: +39-50-554342 ; Telex: 590305 IEICNR I
strigini@icnucevm.cnuce.cnr.it , strigini@icnucevm.bitnet


DIAC-92 CALL FOR PAPERS AND PARTICIPATION

<douglas@atc.boeing.com>
Fri, 30 Aug 91 13:08:42 PDT
                       Call for Papers and Proposals
             DIRECTIONS AND IMPLICATIONS OF ADVANCED COMPUTING
              DIAC-92   Berkeley, California   May 2 - 3, 1992

Computer technology significantly affects most activities in society, including
schooling, health care, military practice, work, communication, and laws and
law enforcement. The DIAC conference considers the implications of technical
advancements on society in a broad social context that encompasses ethics,
economics, and politics.  The conference seeks to address the the relationship
between technology and society. Papers that address directly the relationship
between technology and policy, and papers on the ethics and values of computing
are especially desired. Papers and workshop proposals that build on previous
DIAC presentations are encouraged.  Reports on work in progress or suggestions
for future work as well as appropriate surveys and applications will also be
considered.  The following topics should be regarded as general guidelines for
paper or workshop topics:

   RESEARCH DIRECTIONS                DEFENSE APPLICATIONS
     + Research Funding               + AI & Neural Net Applications
     + Software Development           + Autonomous Weapons Systems
    Methodologies                 + Virtual Reality
     + Professional responsibility    + Uses of Models & Simulations

   COMPUTING IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY  COMPUTERS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
     + Community Access               + Computing for the Disabled
     + Computerized Voting            + Computers and the Environment
     + Civil Liberties                + Arbitration & Conflict Resolution
     + Computing & the Law            + Computing in Education
     + Computing & Workplace          + Software Safety

Submissions will be read by members of the program committee, with the
assistance of outside referees. The program committee includes David Bellin
(consultant), Eric Gutstein (U.  WI), Batya Friedman (Mills College), Jonathan
Jacky (U.  WA), Deborah Johnson (Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst.), Richard Ladner
(U.  WA), Dianne Martin (George Washington U.), Judith Perrolle (Northeastern
U.)  Marc Rotenberg (CPSR), Douglas Schuler (Boeing Computer Services), Barbara
Simons (IBM), Lucy Suchman (Xerox), Karen Wieckert (U. CA. Irvine), and Terry
Winograd (Stanford).

Accepted papers will be presented on May 2.  Accepted workshops will be
conducted on May 3.  Complete papers should include an abstract and should not
exceed 6000 words.  Proposals for workshops should include title, purpose,
intended agenda, and references.  Workshops will be two hours in length.
Submissions will be judged on significance, clarity, insight, and originality.
Papers and/or proposals (4 copies) are due by November 1, 1991.  Notices of
acceptance or rejection will be mailed by January 15, 1992.  Camera ready copy
is due by March 1, 1992.  Send papers to Douglas Schuler, Boeing Computer
Services, MS 7L-64, P.O.  24346, Seattle, WA 98124-0346.  For more information
contact Doug Schuler (206-632-1659 (H), 206-865-3832 (W)
dschuler@june.cs.washington.edu).

Proceedings will be distributed at the symposium, and will be available by
mail.  The DIAC-87, DIAC-88, and DIAC-90 proceedings are published by Ablex
Publishing Company.  Publishing the DIAC-92 proceedings is also planned.

       Sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
                     P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94301

DIAC-92  is  co-sponsored  by  the  American  Association   for   Artificial
Intelligence,  and  the  Boston  Computer  Society  Social  Impact Group, in
cooperation with ACM SIGCHI and ACM SIGCAS.

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