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Polarcoordinatesystem
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Inmathematics,thepolarcoordinatesystemisatwodimensional
coordinatesysteminwhicheachpointonaplaneisdeterminedbya
distancefromareferencepointandananglefromareference
direction.
Thereferencepoint(analogoustotheoriginofaCartesiansystem)is
calledthepole,andtherayfromthepoleinthereferencedirectionis
polarangle,orazimuth.[1]

Contents
1 History
2 Conventions
2.1 Uniquenessofpolarcoordinates
3 ConvertingbetweenpolarandCartesiancoordinates
4 Polarequationofacurve
4.1 Circle
4.2 Line
4.3 Polarrose
4.4 Archimedeanspiral
4.5 Conicsections
5 Intersectionoftwopolarcurves
6 Complexnumbers
7 Calculus
7.1 Differentialcalculus
7.2 Integralcalculus(arclength)
7.3 Integralcalculus(area)
7.3.1 Generalization
7.4 Vectorcalculus
7.4.1 CentrifugalandCoriolisterms
7.4.1.1 Corotatingframe
8 Connectiontosphericalandcylindricalcoordinates
9 Applications
9.2 Modeling
10 Seealso
11 References

Pointsinthepolarcoordinatesystemwith
poleOandpolaraxisL.Ingreen,thepoint
coordinate60degreesor(3,60).Inblue,
thepoint(4,210).

History
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firstmillenniumBC.TheGreekastronomerandastrologerHipparchus(190
120BC)createdatableofchordfunctionsgivingthelengthofthechordfor
eachangle,andtherearereferencestohisusingpolarcoordinatesin
establishingstellarpositions.[2]InOnSpirals,Archimedesdescribesthe
work,however,didnotextendtoafullcoordinatesystem.
approximatingandcalculatingthedirectiontoMecca(qibla)anditsdistance
fromanylocationontheEarth.[3]Fromthe9thcenturyonwardtheywere
usingsphericaltrigonometryandmapprojectionmethodstodeterminethese
quantitiesaccurately.Thecalculationisessentiallytheconversionofthe
Hipparchus
equatorialpolarcoordinatesofMecca(i.e.itslongitudeandlatitude)toitspolar
coordinates(i.e.itsqiblaanddistance)relativetoasystemwhosereference
meridianisthegreatcirclethroughthegivenlocationandtheEarth'spoles,andwhosepolaraxisistheline
throughthelocationanditsantipodalpoint.[4]
Therearevariousaccountsoftheintroductionofpolarcoordinatesaspartofaformalcoordinatesystem.Thefull
historyofthesubjectisdescribedinHarvardprofessorJulianLowellCoolidge'sOriginofPolarCoordinates.[5]
GrgoiredeSaintVincentandBonaventuraCavalieriindependentlyintroducedtheconceptsinthemid
Cavalieripublishedhisin1635withacorrectedversionappearingin1653.Cavalierifirstusedpolarcoordinatesto
solveaproblemrelatingtotheareawithinanArchimedeanspiral.BlaisePascalsubsequentlyusedpolar
coordinatestocalculatethelengthofparabolicarcs.
InMethodofFluxions(written1671,published1736),SirIsaacNewtonexaminedthetransformationsbetween
polarcoordinates,whichhereferredtoasthe"SeventhMannerForSpirals",andnineothercoordinatesystems.[6]
InthejournalActaEruditorum(1691),JacobBernoulliusedasystemwithapointonaline,calledthepoleand
polaraxisrespectively.Coordinateswerespecifiedbythedistancefromthepoleandtheanglefromthepolaraxis.
TheactualtermpolarcoordinateshasbeenattributedtoGregorioFontanaandwasusedby18thcenturyItalian
writers.ThetermappearedinEnglishinGeorgePeacock's1816translationofLacroix'sDifferentialandIntegral
Calculus.[7][8]AlexisClairautwasthefirsttothinkofpolarcoordinatesinthreedimensions,andLeonhardEuler
wasthefirsttoactuallydevelopthem.[5]

Conventions
specifiedasbyISOstandard3111.
mathematicsandmathematicalphysics.[9]
Inmanycontexts,apositiveangularcoordinatemeansthattheangleismeasuredcounterclockwisefromthe
axis.
Inmathematicalliterature,thepolaraxisisoftendrawnhorizontalandpointingtotheright.
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Uniquenessofpolarcoordinates
coordinatedoesnotchangethecorrespondingdirection.Also,
correspondingpositivedistancemeasuredintheopposite
direction.Therefore,thesamepointcanbeexpressedwithan
infinitenumberofdifferentpolarcoordinates(r,n360)
or(r,(2n+1)180),wherenisanyinteger.[10]Moreover,
thepoleitselfcanbeexpressedas(0,)foranyangle.[11]
Whereauniquerepresentationisneededforanypoint,itis
usualtolimitrtononnegativenumbers(r0)andtothe
(,]).[12]Onemustalsochooseauniqueazimuthforthe
pole,e.g.,=0.
Apolargridwithseveralangleslabeledindegrees

Convertingbetweenpolarand
Cartesiancoordinates
ThepolarcoordinatesrandcanbeconvertedtotheCartesian
coordinatesxandybyusingthetrigonometricfunctionssineand
cosine:

TheCartesiancoordinatesxandycanbeconvertedtopolar
coordinatesrandwithr0andintheinterval(,]by:[13]
(asinthePythagoreantheoremorthe
Euclideannorm),and
,
whereatan2isacommonvariationonthearctangentfunctiondefined
as

betweenpolarandCartesiancoordinates.

Thevalueofaboveistheprincipalvalueofthecomplexnumberfunctionargappliedtox+iy.Anangleinthe

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Polarequationofacurve
Theequationdefininganalgebraiccurveexpressedinpolar
coordinatesisknownasapolarequation.Inmanycases,suchan
equationcansimplybespecifiedbydefiningrasafunctionof.The
resultingcurvethenconsistsofpointsoftheform(r(),)andcanbe
regardedasthegraphofthepolarfunctionr.
Differentformsofsymmetrycanbededucedfromtheequationofa
thehorizontal(0/180)ray,ifr()=r()itwillbesymmetric
pole.
Becauseofthecircularnatureofthepolarcoordinatesystem,many
curvescanbedescribedbyarathersimplepolarequation,whereas
theirCartesianformismuchmoreintricate.Amongthebestknownof
thesecurvesarethepolarrose,Archimedeanspiral,lemniscate,
limaon,andcardioid.

AcurveontheCartesianplanecanbe
mappedintopolarcoordinates.Inthis
animation,
ismapped
onto
.Clickonimagefor
details.

Forthecircle,line,andpolarrosebelow,itisunderstoodthattherearenorestrictionsonthedomainandrangeof
thecurve.

Circle

Thiscanbesimplifiedinvariousways,toconformtomorespecificcases,
suchastheequation

Whenr0=a,orwhentheoriginliesonthecircle,theequationbecomes
Acirclewithequationr()=1

.
Inthegeneralcase,theequationcanbesolvedforr,giving
,
thesolutionwithaminussigninfrontofthesquarerootgivesthesamecurve.

Line
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,
whereistheangleofelevationofthelinethatis,=arctanmwheremis
equation

Otherwisestated(r0,)isthepointinwhichthetangentintersectsthe

Polarrose

Apolarrosewithequation
r()=2sin4

Apolarroseisafamousmathematicalcurvethatlookslikeapetaled
flower,andthatcanbeexpressedasasimplepolarequation,

foranyconstant0(including0).Ifkisaninteger,theseequationswillproduceakpetaledroseifkisodd,ora2k
petaledroseifkiseven.Ifkisrationalbutnotaninteger,aroselikeshapemayformbutwithoverlappingpetals.
Notethattheseequationsneverdefinearosewith2,6,10,14,etc.petals.Thevariablearepresentsthelengthof
thepetalsoftherose.

Archimedeanspiral
TheArchimedeanspiralisafamousspiralthatwasdiscoveredby
Archimedes,whichcanalsobeexpressedasasimplepolarequation.Itis
representedbytheequation

Changingtheparameterawillturnthespiral,whilebcontrolsthedistance
betweenthearms,whichforagivenspiralisalwaysconstant.The
Archimedeanspiralhastwoarms,onefor>0andonefor<0.Thetwo
armsaresmoothlyconnectedatthepole.Takingthemirrorimageofone
armacrossthe90/270linewillyieldtheotherarm.Thiscurveisnotable
asoneofthefirstcurves,aftertheconicsections,tobedescribedina
mathematicaltreatise,andasbeingaprimeexampleofacurvethatisbest
definedbyapolarequation.

OnearmofanArchimedeanspiral
withequationr()=/2for
0<<6

Conicsections
Aconicsectionwithonefocusonthepoleandtheothersomewhereonthe0ray(sothattheconic'smajoraxis
liesalongthepolaraxis)isgivenby:

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whereeistheeccentricityand isthesemilatusrectum(the
perpendiculardistanceatafocusfromthemajoraxistothecurve).If
e>1,thisequationdefinesahyperbolaife=1,itdefinesaparabola
andife<1,itdefinesanellipse.Thespecialcasee=0ofthelatter
Ellipse,showingsemilatusrectum

Intersectionoftwopolarcurves
Thegraphsoftwopolarfunctions

and

havepossibleintersectionsin3cases:

1.Intheoriginiftheequations
and
haveatleastonesolutioneach.
2.Allthepoints
where arethesolutionstotheequation
.
3.Allthepoints
where arethesolutionstotheequation
aninteger.

where is

Complexnumbers
Everycomplexnumbercanberepresentedasapointinthecomplex
plane,andcanthereforebeexpressedbyspecifyingeitherthepoint's
Cartesiancoordinates(calledrectangularorCartesianform)orthe
point'spolarcoordinates(calledpolarform).Thecomplexnumberz
canberepresentedinrectangularformas

whereiistheimaginaryunit,orcanalternativelybewritteninpolar
form(viatheconversionformulaegivenabove)as

andfromthereas

Anillustrationofacomplexnumberzplotted
onthecomplexplane

whereeisEuler'snumber,whichareequivalentasshownbyEuler'sformula.[15](Notethatthisformula,likeall
rectangularandpolarformsofacomplexnumber,theconversionformulaegivenabovecanbeused.
Fortheoperationsofmultiplication,division,andexponentiationofcomplexnumbers,itisgenerallymuch
simplertoworkwithcomplexnumbersexpressedinpolarformratherthanrectangularform.Fromthelawsof
exponentiation:
Multiplication:

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Division:

Exponentiation(DeMoivre'sformula):

Calculus
Calculuscanbeappliedtoequationsexpressedinpolar
coordinates.[16][17]
section,whichistheconventionalchoicewhendoingcalculus.

Anillustrationofacomplexnumberplotted
onthecomplexplaneusingEuler'sformula

Differentialcalculus
Usingx=rcosandy=rsin,onecanderivearelationshipbetweenderivativesinCartesianandpolar
coordinates.Foragivenfunction,u(x,y),itfollowsthat(bycomputingitstotalderivatives)

or

Hence,wehavethefollowingformulae:

Usingtheinversecoordinatestransformation,ananalogousreciprocalrelationshipcanbederivedbetweenthe
derivatives.Givenafunctionu(r,),itfollowsthat

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or

Hence,wehavethefollowingformulae:

TofindtheCartesianslopeofthetangentlinetoapolarcurver()atanygivenpoint,thecurveisfirstexpressed
asasystemofparametricequations.

Differentiatingbothequationswithrespecttoyields

DividingthesecondequationbythefirstyieldstheCartesianslopeofthetangentlinetothecurveatthepoint
(r(),):

coordinates.

Integralcalculus(arclength)
Thearclength(lengthofalinesegment)definedbyapolarfunctionisfoundbytheintegrationoverthecurve
r().LetLdenotethislengthalongthecurvestartingfrompointsAthroughtopointB,wherethesepoints
correspondto=aand=bsuchthat0<ba<2.ThelengthofLisgivenbythefollowingintegral

Integralcalculus(area)
LetRdenotetheregionenclosedbyacurver()andtherays=aand=b,where0<ba2.Then,thearea
ofRis
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Thisresultcanbefoundasfollows.First,theinterval[a,b]isdividedinto
nsubintervals,wherenisanarbitrarypositiveinteger.Thus,thelength
ofeachsubinterval,isequaltoba(thetotallengthoftheinterval),
dividedbyn,thenumberofsubintervals.Foreachsubintervali=1,2,,
n,letibethemidpointofthesubinterval,andconstructasectorwiththe
areaofeachconstructedsectoristhereforeequalto

TheintegrationregionRisbounded
bythecurver()andtherays=a
and=b.

Hence,thetotalareaofallofthesectorsis

Asthenumberofsubintervalsnisincreased,theapproximationofthearea
continuestoimprove.Inthelimitasn,thesumbecomestheRiemann
sumfortheaboveintegral.

TheregionRisapproximatedbyn
sectors(here,n=5).

Amechanicaldevicethatcomputesareaintegralsistheplanimeter,which
measurestheareaofplanefiguresbytracingthemout:thisreplicates
linearintegral.
Generalization
UsingCartesiancoordinates,aninfinitesimalareaelementcanbe
calculatedasdA=dxdy.Thesubstitutionruleformultipleintegralsstates
that,whenusingothercoordinates,theJacobiandeterminantofthe
coordinateconversionformulahastobeconsidered:

Aplanimeter,whichmechanically
computespolarintegrals

Hence,anareaelementinpolarcoordinatescanbewrittenas

Now,afunction,thatisgiveninpolarcoordinates,canbeintegratedasfollows:

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Here,Risthesameregionasabove,namely,theregionenclosedbyacurver()andtherays=aand=b.
TheformulafortheareaofRmentionedaboveisretrievedbytakingfidenticallyequalto1.Amoresurprising
applicationofthisresultyieldstheGaussianintegral

Vectorcalculus
Vectorcalculuscanalsobeappliedtopolarcoordinates.Foraplanarmotion,let bethepositionvector
(rcos(),rsin()),withranddependingontimet.
Wedefinetheunitvectors

inthedirectionofrand

motion.
Then

CentrifugalandCoriolisterms
Theterm

issometimesreferredtoasthecentrifugalterm,andtheterm

astheCoriolisterm.Forexample,

seeShankar.[18]AlthoughtheseequationsbearsomeresemblanceinformtothecentrifugalandCorioliseffects
foundinrotatingreferenceframes,nonethelessthesearenotthesamethings.[19]Forexample,thephysical
centrifugalandCoriolisforcesappearonlyinnoninertialframesofreference.Incontrast,theseterms,thatappear
whenaccelerationisexpressedinpolarcoordinates,areamathematicalconsequenceofdifferentiationtheseterms
appearwhereverpolarcoordinatesareused.Inparticular,thesetermsappearevenwhenpolarcoordinatesareused
ininertialframesofreference,wherethephysicalcentrifugalandCoriolisforcesneverappear.
Corotatingframe

Foraparticleinplanarmotion,oneapproachtoattachingphysicalsignificancetothesetermsisbasedonthe
conceptofaninstantaneouscorotatingframeofreference.[20]Todefineacorotatingframe,firstanoriginis
selectedfromwhichthedistancer(t)totheparticleisdefined.Anaxisofrotationissetupthatisperpendicularto
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theplaneofmotionoftheparticle,
andpassingthroughthisorigin.Then,
attheselectedmomentt,therateof
rotationofthecorotatingframeis
Next,thetermsintheaccelerationin
theinertialframearerelatedtothose
Velocityvectorv,always Accelerationvectora,notparallel
inthecorotatingframe.Letthe
Positionvector tangenttothepathof
locationoftheparticleintheinertial
r,alwayspoints motion.
theangularandCoriolis
framebe(r(t),(t)),andintheco
accelerations,nortangenttothe
rotatingframebe(r(t),(t)).Because
origin.
pathbutoffsetbythecentripetal
thecorotatingframerotatesatthe
samerateastheparticle,d/dt=0.
Kinematicvectorsinplanepolarcoordinates.Noticethesetupisnotrestricted
Thefictitiouscentrifugalforceinthe
to2dspace,butaplaneinanyhigherdimension.
outward.Thevelocityoftheparticle
fictitiousCoriolisforcethereforehasavalue2m(dr/dt),pointedinthe
directionofincreasingonly.Thus,usingtheseforcesinNewton'ssecond
lawwefind:

whereoverdotsrepresenttimedifferentiations,andFisthenetrealforce
(asopposedtothefictitiousforces).Intermsofcomponents,thisvector
equationbecomes:

whichcanbecomparedtotheequationsfortheinertialframe:

Thiscomparison,plustherecognitionthatbythedefinitionoftheco
rotatingframeattimetithasarateofrotation=d/dt,showsthatwe
caninterpretthetermsintheacceleration(multipliedbythemassofthe
particle)asfoundintheinertialframeasthenegativeofthecentrifugaland
Coriolisforcesthatwouldbeseenintheinstantaneous,noninertialco
rotatingframe.

InertialframeofreferenceSand
instantaneousnoninertialcorotating
frameofreferenceS.Thecorotating
framerotatesatangularrateequal
totherateofrotationoftheparticle
momentt.Particleislocatedatvector
positionr(t)andunitvectorsare
particlefromtheorigin,andalsoin
thedirectionofincreasingangle
unitvectorsneednotberelatedtothe
tangentandnormaltothepath.Also,
thepath.

Forgeneralmotionofaparticle(asopposedtosimplecircularmotion),the
centrifugalandCoriolisforcesinaparticle'sframeofreferencecommonly
arereferredtotheinstantaneousosculatingcircleofitsmotion,nottoafixedcenterofpolarcoordinates.Formore
detail,seecentripetalforce.

Connectiontosphericalandcylindricalcoordinates
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Thepolarcoordinatesystemisextendedintothreedimensionswithtwodifferentcoordinatesystems,the
cylindricalandsphericalcoordinatesystem.

Applications
Polarcoordinatesaretwodimensionalandthustheycanbeusedonlywherepointpositionslieonasingletwo
dimensionalplane.Theyaremostappropriateinanycontextwherethephenomenonbeingconsideredisinherently
tiedtodirectionandlengthfromacenterpoint.Forinstance,theexamplesaboveshowhowelementarypolar
equationssufficetodefinecurvessuchastheArchimedeanspiralwhoseequationintheCartesiancoordinate
systemwouldbemuchmoreintricate.Moreover,manyphysicalsystemssuchasthoseconcernedwithbodies
movingaroundacentralpointorwithphenomenaoriginatingfromacentralpointaresimplerandmoreintuitive
tomodelusingpolarcoordinates.Theinitialmotivationfortheintroductionofthepolarsystemwasthestudyof
circularandorbitalmotion.

distancefromtheobjectbeingconsidered.Forinstance,aircraftuseaslightlymodifiedversionofthepolar
magneticeast,south,andwest,respectively.[21]Thus,anaircrafttraveling5nauticalmilesdueeastwillbe

Modeling
Thesesystemsincludegravitationalfields,whichobeytheinversesquarelaw,aswellassystemswithpoint
patternillustratesitsproportionalresponsetoanincomingsoundfromagivendirection,andthesepatternscanbe
representedaspolarcurves.Thecurveforastandardcardioidmicrophone,themostcommonunidirectional
microphone,canberepresentedasr=0.5+0.5sin()atitstargetdesignfrequency.[23]Thepatternshiftstoward
omnidirectionalityatlowerfrequencies.

Seealso
Curvilinearcoordinates
Listofcanonicalcoordinatetransformations
Logpolarcoordinates
Polardecomposition

References
General
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321781079.
Anton,HowardIrlBivensStephenDavis(2002).Calculus(Seventhed.).AntonTextbooks,Inc.ISBN0471381578.
Finney,RossGeorgeThomasFranklinDemanaBertWaits(June1994).Calculus:Graphical,Numerical,Algebraic
Specific
DataAnalysis.Evanston,Illinois:McDougalLittell.ISBN0395771145.
2.Friendly,Michael."MilestonesintheHistoryofThematicCartography,StatisticalGraphics,andDataVisualization".
Retrieved20060910.
3.King,DavidA.(2005).TheSacredGeographyofIslam.p.166.InKoetsier,TeunLuc,Bergmans,eds.(2005).
MathematicsandtheDivine:AHistoricalStudy.Amsterdam:Elsevier.pp.16278.ISBN0444503285..
calculationswereasaccurateascouldbeachievedunderthelimitationsimposedbytheirassumptionthattheEarthwasa
perfectsphere.
5.Coolidge,Julian(1952)."TheOriginofPolarCoordinates".AmericanMathematicalMonthly(MathematicalAssociation
ofAmerica)59(2):7885.doi:10.2307/2307104.JSTOR2307104.
6.Boyer,C.B.(1949)."NewtonasanOriginatorofPolarCoordinates".AmericanMathematicalMonthly(Mathematical
AssociationofAmerica)56(2):7378.doi:10.2307/2306162.JSTOR2306162.
7.Miller,Jeff."EarliestKnownUsesofSomeoftheWordsofMathematics".Retrieved20060910.
8.Smith,DavidEugene(1925).HistoryofMathematics,VolII.Boston:GinnandCo.p.324.
9.Serway,RaymondA.Jewett,Jr.,JohnW.(2005).PrinciplesofPhysics.Brooks/ColeThomsonLearning.ISBN0
53449143X.
10."PolarCoordinatesandGraphing"(PDF).20060413.Retrieved20060922.
11.Lee,TheodoreDavidCohenDavidSklar(2005).Precalculus:WithUnitCircleTrigonometry(Fourthed.).Thomson
Brooks/Cole.ISBN0534402305.
12.Stewart,IanDavidTall(1983).ComplexAnalysis(theHitchhiker'sGuidetothePlane).CambridgeUniversityPress.
ISBN0521287634.
13.Torrence,BruceFollettEveTorrence(1999).TheStudent'sIntroductiontoMathematica.CambridgeUniversityPress.
ISBN0521594618.
14.Claeys,Johan."Polarcoordinates".Retrieved20060525.
15.Smith,JuliusO.(2003)."Euler'sIdentity".MathematicsoftheDiscreteFourierTransform(DFT).W3KPublishing.
ISBN0974560707.Retrieved20060922.
16.Husch,LawrenceS."AreasBoundedbyPolarCurves".Retrieved20061125.
17.LawrenceS.Husch."TangentLinestoPolarGraphs".Retrieved20061125.
18.RamamurtiShankar(1994).PrinciplesofQuantumMechanics(2nded.).Springer.p.81.ISBN0306447908.
19.Inparticular,theangularrateappearinginthepolarcoordinateexpressionsisthatoftheparticleunderobservation, ,
whilethatinclassicalNewtonianmechanicsistheangularrateofarotatingframeofreference.
20.Forthefollowingdiscussion,seeJohnRTaylor(2005).ClassicalMechanics.UniversityScienceBooks.p.9.10,pp.
358359.ISBN189138922X.
22."EmergencyProcedures"(PDF).Retrieved20070115.
23.Eargle,John(2005).HandbookofRecordingEngineering(Fourthed.).Springer.ISBN0387284702.

Hazewinkel,Michiel,ed.(2001),"Polarcoordinates",Encyclopedia
TheWikibookCalculus
ofMathematics,Springer,ISBN9781556080104
hasapageonthetopicof:
GraphingSoftware(https://www.dmoz.org/Science/Math/Software/G
PolarIntegration
raphing/)atDMOZ
CoordinateConverterconvertsbetweenpolar,Cartesianandsphericalcoordinates(http://www.randomsc
iencetools.com/maths/coordinateconverter.htm)
PolarCoordinateSystemDynamicDemo(http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/nevit/691690)
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