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A Compressive Sensing Approach to NBI
Cancellation in Mobile OFDM Systems
Ahmad Gomaa, Student Member, IEEE, and Naofal Al-Dhahir, Fellow, IEEE
The University of Texas at Dallas, USA
Abstract—We propose a novel algorithm based on compres-
sive sensing (CS) theory to estimate narrow band interfer-
ence (NBI) signals experiencing time-varying frequency-selective
fading channels in orthogonal frequency division multiplexing
(OFDM) systems. In addition, we investigate the case of asyn-
chronous jamming where there is a frequency offset between the
NBI and desired signals. Furthermore, we propose a reduced-
complexity implementation for our proposed algorithm with
negligible performance loss. Finally, we show that our proposed
approach can be applied to both cyclic-prefix and zero-padding
OFDM systems. Simulation results show the effectiveness of our
proposed algorithm in mitigating NBI.
I. INTRODUCTION
Narrow-band interference (NBI) degrades the performance
of various wireline and wireless communications systems em-
ploying orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM).
For example, Non-intentional NBI impairs the performance
of multi-band (MB) OFDM ultra wide bandwidth (UWB)
systems [1] where the other licensed systems operating in
the same band cause interference to the UWB system in
parts of the operating bandwidth. Wireless local area networks
(WLANs), e.g. 802.11g/n, suffer from NBI generated by Blue-
tooth devices operating in the same band [2]. In addition, NBI
impairs wired systems such as Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL)
and power line communications (PLC) as radio frequency
interference (RFI) from AM and amateur radio. Moreover,
intentional NBI (jamming) may affect wireless networks used
in military applications. In this paper, we use the terms NBI
and jammer interchangeably.
The problem of NBI mitigation for OFDM is not well
investigated in the literature especially for MIMO systems, and
only few techniques have been reported. One of the techniques
is proposed in [3] where a prediction error filter (PEF) is used
to whiten the narrow-band spectrum of the NBI. This method
assumes that the NBI is an auto-regressive (AR) process;
otherwise the PEF length must be very long to whiten the NBI
spectrum. The PEF is also used in [4] as an erasure insertion
mechanism that localizes the erasures to the tones surrounding
the interference without affecting the remaining tones. In [3],
[4], only a single-tone NBI is assumed. However, in this paper,
we consider NBI affecting several OFDM subcarriers. In [5],
the first subcarrier is assumed to be interference free and
the error term between the received and detected signals of
the first subcarrier is used to predict the error term in the
next subcarrier. A major drawback of this method is that
errors in the interference estimate of one tone propagate to
This work is supported by a gift from RIM Inc.
the other tones. This technique was generalized in [6] using
soft decisions of the OFDM symbols from the decoding unit.
Recently, compressive sensing (CS) theory [7], [8] has been
applied to reconstruct a sparse vector from insufficient noisy
measurements. CS theory was first proposed in [9] to estimate
the NBI signal exploiting its inherent sparsity in the frequency-
domain (FD). However, the NBI signal was assumed to
be unfaded and synchronous with the desired signal at the
receiver. Furthermore, only one NBI signal was assumed. In
this paper, we relax these assumptions and show that CS theory
can still be applied to estimate the jammer effectively and we
propose a reduced-complexity implementation. In [9], the CS-
based approach was proposed for zero-padded (ZP) OFDM;
however, in this paper we show that the approach can be
extended to cyclic-prefix (CP) OFDM as well. The rest of this
paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we provide
a review of CS theory. For completeness, we give a review
of the CS-based approach for NBI estimation in Section III.
Section IV shows how the CS-based approach can be applied
to mobile and asynchronous jammers. A reduced-complexity
implementation for the CS-based approach is proposed in
Section V. The extension to CP-OFDM systems is presented
in Section VI. Finally, simulation results and conclusions
are given in Sections VII and VIII, respectively. Notations:
Unless otherwise stated, lower and upper case bold letters
denote vectors and matrices, respectively. The matrices F
and I denote the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) matrix and
the identity matrix, respectively, and their subscripts denote
theirs sizes. The matrix 0
m×n
denotes the all-zero matrix of
size m × n. Also, ( )
H
, ( )

, and ( )
−1
denote the matrix
complex-conjugate transpose, the complex conjugate, and the
matrix inverse operations, respectively. The j
th
element in a
is denoted by a(j).
II. COMPRESSIVE SENSING BACKGROUND
CS theory [7], [8] asserts that we can recover a sparse vector
x ∈ C
N
from a measurement vector y ∈ C
M
where M N.
In other words, the exact solution of the under-determined
system of equations y = Ax + z can be computed where
A denotes the M × N measurement matrix and z ∈ C
M
is a zero-mean random noise vector with covariance matrix
C
z
E(zz
H
). The word ”sparse” means that x contains few
nonzero elements. The sparse vector x is recovered by solving
the following l
1
-norm constrained minimization problem [10]
min
˜x∈C
N
˜x
1
subject to y −A˜x
2
≤ (1)
2
where .
1
and .
2
denote the l
1
-norm and the l
2
-norm,
respectively, and is chosen such that it bounds the amount
of noise in the measurements. In fact, the convex optimization
problem in (1) is a second-order cone program and can be
solved efficiently [11]. After solving (1), the support of x is
estimated with I = {k : ˜ x
k
= 0} which contains the estimated
indices of the nonzero elements in x. Then, x can be written
as x = Sd where d is a vector containing the values of the
nonzero elements of x. In addition, S is called the selection
matrix whose elements are all zeros except for a single ’1’ in
each column, and the indices of the rows containing these ’1’s
are included in I. We can write y as y = ASd + z, and use
the weighted least squares (WLS) estimation technique [12]
to estimate d as follows
˜
d =

S
H
A
H
C
−1
z
AS

−1
S
H
A
H
C
−1
z
y (2)
III. NBI ESTIMATION USING CS THEORY
As will be justified later, our proposed techniques utilize
the guard sequences between successive OFDM blocks. To
avoid inter-block interference (IBI), we use zero padding as
the guard sequence instead of a cyclic prefix [13]. Denoting
the guard sequence length by ν and the data length by N, the
received OFDM symbol in ZP-OFDM is given by
y = H

F
N
0
N×ν

H
. .. .
:=Fzp
X + z + j (3)
where H is the P × P Circulant channel matrix where
P = N + ν, X is the frequency-domain (FD) data vector, z
is the time-domain (TD) noise vector, j is the TD NBI signal,
and F
zp
is called the ZP transmission matrix. Note that H
is considered Circulant thanks to the all-zero matrix 0
N×ν
in
F
zp
[13]. The TD NBI vector j can be expressed as j = F
H
P
J
where J is its FD vector whose elements are modeled as
J(k) =

d
k
, f ≤ k ≤ t
0, otherwise
(4)
where d
k
∈ C denotes the NBI amplitude at the k-th
subcarrier, and f and t denote the first and last indices
(subcarriers) of NBI, respectively. The NBI width is denoted
by r t −f + 1. Converting y into FD yields
Y = F
P
y = ΛV
....
:=
˜
Λ
X + Z + J (5)
where V F
P
F
zp
, Z F
P
z, and Λ F
P
HF
H
P
is a
diagonal matrix whose diagonal is the P-point discrete Fourier
transform (DFT) of the first column of H. Note that
˜
Λ is a
tall matrix of size P × N as defined in (5). Our goal is to
estimate the NBI frequency support (NBI subcarrier indices f
through t) and the NBI amplitudes d
f
through d
t
. Note that
J can be considered as a sparse signal since it represents a
narrow-band interference. Hence, J can be recovered from Y
using CS theory but X and Z are unknown so they are modeled
as noise. To reduce the noise level, we cancel the unknown
data term in (5). Assuming knowledge
1
of Λ and, hence,
˜
Λ
at the receiver, we multiply Y by W such that W
˜
Λ = 0. To
1
Channel estimation is investigated in [14]
this end, Wis designed to be the projection matrix on the left
null-subspace of
˜
Λ as follows
2
W= I
P

˜
Λ
˜
Λ

(6)
where
˜
Λ

˜
Λ
H
˜
Λ

−1
˜
Λ
H
is the pseudo-inverse matrix [15].
Since
˜
Λ is a tall matrix, it has a nontrivial (i.e. non-zero) left
null-subspace. Now, it is clear that we keep the received guard
sequences to make
˜
Λ a tall matrix. Multiplying Y by W, we
get
¯
Y = WY = WJ +WZ
....
:=
˜
Z
. (7)
Then, the convex program in (1) is solved to estimate the NBI
locations where W is the measurement matrix. Note that W
is a rank-ν matrix. Hence, the linear system in (7) is under-
determined. Next, WLS is used to estimate the NBI amplitudes
before cancelling the NBI signal from Y.
IV. PRACTICAL NBI MODELS
A. Mobile Jammer
In this section, we consider the case where the NBI source
is mobile and its channel is dispersive. Hence, the NBI signal
experiences a fast frequency-selective (FS) fading channel.
Denoting the channel matrix of the jammer by H
J
, the received
faded NBI signal can be expressed as
j
M
= H
J
j = F
H
P
F
P
H
J
F
H
P
. .. .
:=ΛJ
J = F
H
P
Λ
J
J
....
:=J
M
F
H
P
J
M
(8)
where j F
H
P
J is the transmitted NBI signal. According
to [16], Λ
J
can be approximated as a banded matrix with
2D + 1 main diagonals. When multiplied by J, Λ
J
causes
the FD NBI signal to spill over D adjacent subcarriers from
each side where D depends on the Doppler frequency of
the jammer. Hence, higher jammer mobility results in larger
jammer spectral width but J
M
can still be considered sparse.
So, CS theory can still be used to recover J
M
as before.
Note that we follow this approach since we do not have any
knowledge about H
J
because we can not ask the jammer to
send us pilots to estimate its channel!
B. Asynchronous Jammer
Now, we discuss the important case where the jammer is
not synchronous with the desired the signal; i.e. there is some
frequency offset between the jammer and the desired signal at
the receiver. In this case, the n
th
element of the received TD
NBI vector j
offset
is given by
j
offset
(n) =
t
¸
k=f
d
k

P
e
i

P
(k+α)n
(9)
where i

−1 and the frequency offset is represented by α
which is uniformly distributed over the interval


1
2
,
1
2

. The
2
Note that if P projects on the column subspace, then I − P projects on
its orthogonal complement which is the left null-subspace.
3
interference component on the l
th
subcarrier in FD can then
be written as
J
offset
(l) =
t
¸
k=f
d
k
P

1 −e
i2πα

1 −e
i

P
(k−l+α)
. (10)
When α = 0, we get the expression in (4). Hence, the effect
of the frequency offset is jammer spectral spreading. To see
the spreading in matrix notation, we express j
offset
as
j
offset
= H
offset
j = H
offset
F
H
P
J (11)
where H
offset
is a diagonal matrix with H
offset
(n, n) = e
i
2παn
P
,
n = 0, 1, .., P − 1. Note that H
offset
can be considered as
the time-varying channel matrix H
J
defined in Section IV-A
but with a single channel tap. Hence, Λ
offset
F
P
H
offset
F
H
P
is a Circulant banded matrix and the number of its main
(significant) diagonals depends on α. Then,
j
offset
= F
H
P
Λ
offset
J
. .. .
:=J
offset
F
H
P
J
offset
(12)
Since Λ
offset
is banded, J
offset
becomes a spread version of
J. Considering J
offset
as an approximately sparse vector, we
can use the CS-based approach to estimate it as done in
Section IV-A for the case of mobile jammers. This technique
is labelled as ”without estimating α” in Section VII. However,
if Λ
offset
is known at the receiver, then the CS approach can
be applied to recover J instead of J
offset
. This is achieved by
absorbing Λ
offset
into the measurement matrix. To show this,
we write
¯
Y as
¯
Y = WY = WJ
offset
+WZ = WΛ
offset
J +WZ. (13)
If Λ
offset
is not known at the receiver, then we apply CS theory
to estimate J
offset
. In this case, the measurement matrix is W.
On the other hand, if Λ
offset
is known at the receiver, then we
apply CS theory to estimate J. In this case, the measurement
matrix is WΛ
offset
. Since J is exactly sparse unlike J
offset
,
the solution of the l
1
-norm constrained minimization problem
for J will be more accurate than that for J
offset
. This is
because CS-based algorithms are designed for sparse vectors.
Consequently, better NBI estimation and cancellation can be
achieved if Λ
offset
is known at the receiver. Note that the matrix
Λ
offset
is completely determined by α. Hence, we propose the
following technique to estimate α for single-tone jammers and
believe that the extension to multiple-tone jammers is possible.
First, we apply CS theory to get an initial estimate of J
offset
.
Since this estimate is sparse, we extract its largest s nonzero
elements. These extracted elements can be expressed as
ˆ
J
offset
(l
n
) =
d
k

1 −e
i2πα

/P

1 −e
i

P
(k−ln+α)
+e(l
n
), 1 ≤ n ≤ s (14)
where e(l
n
) is some error term at the (l
n
)
th
element, d
k
and k denote the amplitude and the location of the single
jamming tone, respectively. The idea is to estimate α from
{
ˆ
J
offset
(l
n
), n = 1, 2, .., s} using the non-linear least squares
estimation technique [12] because
ˆ
J
offset
(l
n
) is a non-linear
function of α. The estimate of α, denoted by ˆ α, is chosen to
maximize the following cost function
ζ(α) =

¸
s
n=1
ˆ
J

offset
(l
n
)
(1−e
i2πα
)

1−e
i

P
(k−ln+α)

2

(1−e
i2πα
)

1−e
i

P
(k−ln+α)

2
(15)
where |.| denotes the absolute value. This maximization can
be implemented using grid search over possible values of α
as follows. We quantize the interval


1
2
,
1
2

into N
q
levels,
substitute each level for α in ζ(α), and set ˆ α to the level
that maximizes the cost function. Note that ζ(α) depends on
k which is the location of the jammer tone. As an estimate
of k, we use
ˆ
k = arg max
n

ˆ
J
offset
(l
n
)

. Using ˆ α, we form
an estimate for Λ
offset
, denoted by
ˆ
Λ
offset
. Then, we form
the measurement matrix as WΛ
offset
and solve the l
1
-norm
constrained minimization problem to get an estimate for the
frequency support of J. If this estimate differs from
ˆ
k, we re-
estimate α using the new estimate of k. This refined estimate
of α is only used to re-calculate
ˆ
Λ
offset
and the measurement
matrix. Finally, we perform the WLS step to estimate the
amplitude of the jammer and output the estimate of J denoted
by
ˆ
J. The new estimate for J
offset
is given by
˜
J
offset
=
ˆ
Λ
offset
ˆ
J. (16)
Next, J
offset
is cancelled from the received signal prior to the
detection and decoding steps. This technique is labelled as
”with estimating α” in Section VII. In [14], we use another
technique to deal with asynchronous jammers, viz. we use
receiver windowing to spectrally contain the jammer.
V. ALTERNATIVE NULLING METHOD
In Section III, we set Wto be the projection matrix onto the
left null-subspace of
˜
Λ to null out (cancel) the unknown data
term. However, computing Wrequires the inversion of a P×P
matrix which is computationally intense although the diagonal
structure of Λ can be utilized to reduce the complexity. In this
section, we propose a simpler method to null out the unknown
data term where we utilize the tall structure of F
zp
. First, we
multiply Y by G
1
F
H
P
Λ
−1
to get
¯
Y
1
= G
1
Y = F
zp
X +G
1
Z +G
1
J (17)
where Λ
−1
is easily computed since Λ is diagonal and the
multiplication by F
H
P
is efficiently implemented using the
inverse FFT operation. Recalling the structure of F
zp
, we
simply multiply
¯
Y
1
by G
2


0
ν×N
I
ν

to null out the
unknown data term as follows
¯
Y
2
= G
2
¯
Y
1
= G
2
G
1
. .. .
A
J +G
2
G
1
Z
. .. .

˜
Z
(18)
Note that the multiplication by G
2
is equivalent to extract-
ing the last ν elements of the vector
¯
Y
1
. Next, we apply
the CS-based technique to (18) to estimate J. However, the
disadvantage of this nulling scheme is the multiplication by
Λ
−1
which may amplify the noise if the channel frequency
4
response has nulls near the P-point DFT grid. As a remedy
for this problem, we replace Λ
−1
by Λ
H

ΛΛ
H
+ δI
P

−1
where δ is a small constant proportional to the noise power.
This remedy is inspired from the minimum mean square error
criterion as an alternative to the zero forcing criterion.
VI. CS-BASED APPROACH FOR CP-OFDM
The reason we did not use CP-OFDM in [9] is to avoid
the IBI in the guard sequence needed to get a tall matrix in
front of the unknown data term. In this section we present a
method to obtain a tall matrix in CP-OFDM without keeping
the guard sequence. This method is based on the fact that the
FD data vector X contains elements known at the receiver.
In WLANs, for example, X contains 12 null subcarriers and 4
pilot subcarriers. We denote the number of the known elements
of X as u. We denote the indices of the known and unknown
elements of X as I
K
and I
U
, respectively.
The received CP-OFDM symbol after removing the cyclic
prefix can be written as follows
y = HF
H
N
QX + z + j (19)
where His the N×N Circulant channel matrix, Qis an N×N
pre-coding matrix inserted at the transmitter side, and z and j
are defined as before. The reason for inserting Q will become
clear shortly. To get a tall matrix in front of the unknown data
term, we do the following operation
y
1
= y −HF
H
N
Q
1
X
1
= HF
H
N
Q
2
. .. .
:=
¯
H
X
2
+ z + j (20)
where Q
1
and Q
2
are sub-matrices of Q containing the
columns corresponding to I
K
and I
U
, respectively. Similarly,
X
1
and X
2
are sub-vectors of X containing the known and
unknown elements of X, respectively. Observe that
¯
H is an
N ×(N −u) tall matrix in front of the unknown vector X
2
.
Consequently, we can multiply y
1
by

W = I
N

¯
H
¯
H

to
cancel the unknown data term and, then, apply the CS-based
technique to estimate the NBI signal. However, to avoid the
inversion of a channel-dependent matrix, we follow a similar
approach to that in Section V. We convert y
1
into FD to get
Y
1
= F
N
y
1
= ΛQ
2
X + Z + J (21)
where Λ is a diagonal matrix defined as Λ = F
N
HF
H
N
. Next,
we multiply Y
1
by Λ
−1
, which can computed easily since Λ
is diagonal, to get
¯
Y
1
= Λ
−1
Y
1
= Q
2
X +Λ
−1
Z +Λ
−1
J. (22)
Since Q
2
is a tall matrix, we multiply
¯
Y
1
by G = I
N
−Q
2
Q

2
to null out the unknown data term as follows
¯
Y
2
= G
¯
Y
1
= GΛ
−1
. .. .
A
J +GΛ
−1
Z
. .. .

˜
Z
. (23)
Next, our CS-based approach is applied to estimate J. Note
that G is computed only once at the receiver since it depends
only on Q
2
which is known apriori at the receiver. To simplify
the detection process and to keep the transmitted power
unchanged, we choose the pre-coding matrix Q to be unitary,
i.e. Q
H
Q = I
N
, and, hence, Q

2
= Q
H
2
. If Q is not present,
then
¯
H in (20) would be
¯
H := HK where K is a sub-matrix
of F
H
N
constructed from the columns corresponding to I
U
.
Multiplying y
1
by

Wnulls the unknown data term and yields a
measurement matrix A =

WF
H
N
. The reader can easily verify
that all columns of A are zeros except those corresponding to
I
K
. Hence, AJ is zero and

Wy
1
contains only noise unless
the jammed subcarriers indices were equal to I
K
.
VII. SIMULATION RESULTS
We simulate the performance of an OFDM-based wireless
system with N = 64, ν = 16, and L = 3 complex Gaussian
channel taps of equal power in the presence of NBI. We
employ a nonsystematic rate-1/2 convolutional code (CC) with
octal generator (133,171) and constraint length = 7. Coded
bits are quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulated. The
signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is defined as
E
b
No
, and the signal-to-
interference ratio (SIR) is defined as
E
b
(
¸
t
k=f
|d
k
|
2
/r)
where E
b
is the bit energy. The case of a mobile jammer with Doppler
frequency normalized to 5% of the subchannel spacing is
investigated in Fig. 1 where the BER is plotted against the
SNR for r = 1 and 4 jammed subcarriers. The case of r = 4 is
encountered in WLANs with the frequency-hopping Bluetooth
signal acting as NBI. We also show the performance of the
interference-free case and the case where NBI is ignored at
the receiver. The jammer Doppler frequency assumed in this
paper corresponds to D = 1, i.e. 3 main diagonals. It worth
mentioning that in the case of a mobile jammer, we do not per-
form the WLS step; instead we take the solution of the l
1
-norm
constrained minimization problem as the jammer estimate and
cancel it from the received signal. The reason is that the mobile
jammer will spread over all the subcarriers and, hence, all the
subcarriers will be jammed although with different amounts of
jamming power. The asynchronous jammer case is investigated
in Fig. 2 where we show the performance of our CS-based
approach with/without estimating α and with perfect knowl-
edge of α at the receiver. The performance with estimating
α is shown for various values of N
q
where we observe that
estimating α significantly improves the performance even for
small N
q
where the complexity of the grid search is small. The
performance of the alternative nulling method for ZP-OFDM,
proposed in Section V, is compared with the conventional
method in Fig. 3. Although the alternative nulling method
shows a small performance loss compared to the conventional
one, the complexity of the latter is significantly reduced as it
does not require the inversion of a channel-dependent matrix.
Finally, the performance of our CS-based approach for CP-
OFDM systems is shown in Fig. 4 where it can effectively
cancel the NBI and, thus, significantly improves the BER.
Figure 5 shows the BER performance versus the SIR. We
emphasize that our approach requires no prior knowledge
about the jammer statistics, location, or power.
VIII. CONCLUSION
In this paper, we showed how to apply the recent CS
theory to estimate mobile NBI signals experiencing fast and
frequency-selective (FS) fading channels in OFDM-based sys-
tems. In addition, we investigate the asynchronous scenario
5
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
10
−5
10
−4
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
SNR (dB)
B
E
R


No NBI
Ignoring NBI
CS−based Approach
r = 4 jamming tones
r = 1 jamming tone
Fig. 1. BER versus SNR for 2 ×1 ZP-OFDM systems jammed by a mobile
jammer with SIR = -17 dB.
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
10
−5
10
−4
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
SNR (dB)
B
E
R


Our approach without estimating α
Our approach with estimating α, N
q
= 40
Our approach with estimating α, N
q
= 20
Our approach with known α
No NBI
Fig. 2. BER versus SNR for 2 ×1 ZP-OFDM systems jammed by a single-
tone asynchronous jammer with SIR = -17dB, s = 10, and α ∈ U


1
2
,
1
2

.
when there is a frequency offset between the jammer and the
desired signal where we integrate CS theory with non-linear
least squares to estimate this frequency offset. Furthermore,
we propose a reduced-complexity implementation for our CS-
based approach where the inversion of a channel-dependent
matrix is avoided. Finally, we show that the CS-based ap-
proach for NBI estimation is applicable not only to ZP-OFDM
systems but also to CP-OFDM systems as well.
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0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
10
−4
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
Jammer length (r)
B
E
R


No NBI
Conventional Nulling Method
Alternative Nulling Method
Ignoring NBI
Fig. 3. BER versus jammer width for 2 × 1 ZP-OFDM systems using
conventional and alternative nulling methods. SNR = 18dB and SIR = -17dB.
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
10
−4
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
Jammer length (r)
B
E
R


No NBI
CS−based Approach
Ignoring NBI
Fig. 4. BER versus jammer width for 2 ×1 CP-OFDM systems with SNR
= 18dB and SIR = -17dB.
−20 −15 −10 −5 0 5 10 15 20
10
−4
10
−3
10
−2
10
−1
10
0
SIR (dB)
B
E
R


No NBI
CS−based approach
Ignoring NBI
r = 4 jammed subcarriers r = 1 jammed
subcarrier
Fig. 5. BER versus SIR for ZP-OFDM systems with r = 1 (dashed lines)
and 4 (solid lines) jammed subcarriers and SNR = 18dB.
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