Original author(s)Fabrice Bellard
Bobby Bingham (libavfilter)[1]
Developer(s)FFmpeg team
Initial releaseDecember 20, 2000; 23 years ago (2000-12-20)[2]
Stable release
7.0[3] Edit this on Wikidata / 5 April 2024
Written inC and Assembly[4]
Operating systemVarious, including Windows, macOS, and Linux (executable programs are only available from third parties, as the project only distributes source code)[5][6]
Platformx86, ARM, PowerPC, MIPS, RISC-V, DEC Alpha, Blackfin, AVR32, SH-4, and SPARC; may be compiled for other desktop computers
TypeMultimedia framework
LicenseLGPL-2.1-or-later, GPL-2.0-or-later
Unredistributable if compiled with any software with a license incompatible with the GPL[7]

FFmpeg is a free and open-source software project consisting of a suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the command-line ffmpeg tool itself, designed for processing of video and audio files. It is widely used for format transcoding, basic editing (trimming and concatenation), video scaling, video post-production effects and standards compliance (SMPTE, ITU).

FFmpeg also includes other tools: ffplay, a simple media player and ffprobe, a command-line tool to display media information. Among included libraries are libavcodec, an audio/video codec library used by many commercial and free software products, libavformat (Lavf),[8] an audio/video container mux and demux library, and libavfilter, a library for enhancing and editing filters through a Gstreamer-like filtergraph.[9]

FFmpeg is part of the workflow of many other software projects, and its libraries are a core part of software media players such as VLC, and has been included in core processing for YouTube and Bilibili.[10] Encoders and decoders for many audio and video file formats are included, making it highly useful for the transcoding of common and uncommon media files.

FFmpeg is published under the LGPL-2.1-or-later or GPL-2.0-or-later, depending on which options are enabled.[11]


The project was started by Fabrice Bellard[11] (using the pseudonym "Gérard Lantau") in 2000, and was led by Michael Niedermayer from 2004 until 2015.[12] Some FFmpeg developers were also part of the MPlayer project.

The name of the project is inspired by the MPEG video standards group, together with "FF" for "fast forward", so FFmpeg stands for "Fast Forward Moving Picture Experts Group".[13] The logo represents a zigzag scan pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.[14]

On March 13, 2011, a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name Libav.[15][16][17] The event was related to an issue in project management, in which developers disagreed with the leadership of FFmpeg.[18][19][20]

On January 10, 2014, two Google employees announced that over 1000 bugs had been fixed in FFmpeg during the previous two years by means of fuzz testing.[21]

In January 2018, the ffserver command-line program – a long-time component of FFmpeg – was removed.[22] The developers had previously deprecated the program citing high maintenance efforts due to its use of internal application programming interfaces.[23]

The project publishes a new release every three months on average. While release versions are available from the website for download, FFmpeg developers recommend that users compile the software from source using the latest build from their source code Git version control system.[24]

Codec history

Two video coding formats with corresponding codecs and one container format have been created within the FFmpeg project so far. The two video codecs are the lossless FFV1, and the lossless and lossy Snow codec. Development of Snow has stalled, while its bit-stream format has not been finalized yet, making it experimental since 2011. The multimedia container format called NUT is no longer being actively developed, but still maintained.[25]

In summer 2010, FFmpeg developers Fiona Glaser, Ronald Bultje, and David Conrad, announced the ffvp8 decoder. Through testing, they determined that ffvp8 was faster than Google's own libvpx decoder.[26][27] Starting with version 0.6, FFmpeg also supported WebM and VP8.[28]

In October 2013, a native VP9[29] decoder and OpenHEVC, an open source High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) decoder, were added to FFmpeg.[30] In 2016 the native AAC encoder was considered stable, removing support for the two external AAC encoders from VisualOn and FAAC. FFmpeg 3.0 (nicknamed "Einstein") retained build support for the Fraunhofer FDK AAC encoder.[31] Since version 3.4 "Cantor" FFmpeg supported the FITS image format.[32] Since November 2018 in version 4.1 "al-Khwarizmi" AV1 can be muxed in MP4 and Matroska incl. WebM.[33][34]


Command line tools


Supported hardware


FFmpeg encompasses software implementations of video and audio compressing and decompressing algorithms. These can be compiled and run on diverse instruction sets.

Many widespread instruction sets are supported by FFmpeg, including x86 (IA-32 and x86-64), PPC (PowerPC), ARM, DEC Alpha, SPARC, and MIPS.[36]

Special purpose hardware

There are a variety of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for audio/video compression and decompression. These ASICs can partially or completely offload the computation from the host CPU. Instead of a complete implementation of an algorithm, only the API is required to use such an ASIC.[37]

Firm ASIC purpose supported by FFmpeg Details
AMD UVD decoding Yes via VDPAU API and VAAPI
VCE encoding Yes via VAAPI, considered experimental[38]
Amlogic Amlogic Video Engine decoding ?
BlackMagic DeckLink encoding/decoding Yes real-time ingest and playout
Broadcom Crystal HD decoding Yes
Qualcomm Hexagon encoding/decoding Yes hwaccel[39]
Intel Intel Clear Video decoding Yes (libmfx, VAAPI)
Intel Quick Sync Video encoding/decoding Yes (libmfx, VAAPI)
Nvidia PureVideo / NVDEC decoding Yes via the VDPAU API as of FFmpeg v1.2 (deprecated)
via CUVID API as of FFmpeg v3.1[40]
NVENC encoding Yes as of FFmpeg v2.6

The following APIs are also supported: DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA2, Windows), Direct3D 11 (D3D11VA, Windows), Media Foundation (Windows), VideoToolbox (macOS), RockChip MPP, OpenCL, OpenMAX, MMAL (Raspberry Pi), MediaCodec (Android OS), V4L2 (Linux). Depending on the environment, these APIs may lead to specific ASICs, to GPGPU routines, or to SIMD CPU code.[41]

Supported codecs and formats

Image formats

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FFmpeg supports many common and some uncommon image formats.

The PGMYUV image format is a homebrew variant of the binary (P5) PGM Netpbm format. FFmpeg also supports 16-bit depths of the PGM and PPM formats, and the binary (P7) PAM format with or without alpha channel, depth 8 bit or 16 bit for pix_fmts monob, gray, gray16be, rgb24, rgb48be, ya8, rgba, rgb64be.

Supported formats

Further information: libavcodec

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In addition to FFV1 and Snow formats, which were created and developed from within FFmpeg, the project also supports the following formats:

Group Format type Format name
ISO/IEC/ITU-T Video MPEG-1 Part 2, H.261 (Px64),[42] H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.263,[42] MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC/H.265[30] (MPEG-H Part 2), MPEG-4 VCB (a.k.a. VP8), Motion JPEG, IEC DV video and CD+G
Audio MP1, MP2, MP3, AAC, HE-AAC, MPEG-4 ALS, G.711 μ-law, G.711 A-law, G.721 (a.k.a. G.726 32k), G.722, G.722.2 (a.k.a. AMR-WB), G.723 (a.k.a. G.726 24k and 40k), G.723.1, G.726, G.729, G.729D, IEC DV audio and Direct Stream Transfer
Subtitle MPEG-4 Timed Text (a.k.a. 3GPP Timed Text)
Image JPEG, Lossless JPEG, JPEG-LS, JPEG 2000, JPEG XL,[43] PNG, CCITT G3 and CCITT G4
Alliance for Open Media Video AV1[44]
Image AVIF[45]
EIA Subtitle EIA-608
CEA Subtitle CEA-708
SMPTE Video SMPTE 314M (a.k.a. DVCAM and DVCPRO), SMPTE 370M (a.k.a. DVCPRO HD), VC-1 (a.k.a. WMV3), VC-2 (a.k.a. Dirac Pro), VC-3 (a.k.a. AVID DNxHD)
Audio SMPTE 302M
Image DPX
ATSC/ETSI/DVB Audio Full Rate (GSM 06.10), AC-3 (Dolby Digital), Enhanced AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus) and DTS Coherent Acoustics (a.k.a. DTS or DCA)
Subtitle DVB Subtitling (ETSI 300 743)
DVD Forum/Dolby Audio MLP / Dolby TrueHD
Subtitle DVD-Video subtitles
Xperi/DTS, Inc/QDesign Audio DTS Coherent Acoustics (a.k.a. DTS or DCA), DTS Extended Surround (a.k.a. DTS-ES), DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS Express (a.k.a. DTS-HD LBR), DTS-HD Master Audio, QDesign Music Codec 1 and 2
Blu-ray Disc Association Subtitle PGS (Presentation Graphics Stream)
3GPP Audio AMR-NB, AMR-WB (a.k.a. G.722.2)
3GPP2 Audio QCELP-8 (a.k.a. SmartRate or IS-96C), QCELP-13 (a.k.a. PureVoice or IS-733) and Enhanced Variable Rate Codec (EVRC. a.k.a. IS-127)
World Wide Web Consortium Video Animated GIF[46]
Subtitle WebVTT
Image GIF, and SVG (via librsvg)
Audio iLBC (via libilbc), Opus and Comfort noise
International Voice Association Audio DSS-SP
SAC Video AVS video, AVS2 video[47] (via libdavs2), and AVS3 video (via libuavs3d)
Microsoft Video Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, Cinepak, Microsoft MPEG-4 v1, v2 and v3, Windows Media Video (WMV1, WMV2, WMV3/VC-1), WMV Screen and Mimic codec
Audio Windows Media Audio (WMA1, WMA2, WMA Pro and WMA Lossless), XMA (XMA1 and XMA2),[48] MSN Siren, MS-GSM and MS-ADPCM
Subtitle SAMI
Image Windows Bitmap, WMV Image (WMV9 Image and WMV9 Image v2), DirectDraw Surface, and MSP[49]
Interactive Multimedia Association Audio IMA ADPCM
Intel / Digital Video Interactive Video RTV 2.1 (Indeo 2), Indeo 3, 4 and 5,[42] and Intel H.263
Audio DVI4 (a.k.a. IMA DVI ADPCM), Intel Music Coder, and Indeo Audio Coder
RealNetworks Video RealVideo Fractal Codec (a.k.a. Iterated Systems ClearVideo), 1, 2, 3 and 4
Audio RealAudio v1 – v10, and RealAudio Lossless[50]
Subtitle RealText
Apple / Spruce Technologies Video Cinepak (Apple Compact Video), ProRes, Sorenson 3 Codec, QuickTime Animation (Apple Animation), QuickTime Graphics (Apple Graphics), Apple Video, Apple Intermediate Codec and Pixlet[51]
Audio ALAC
Image QuickDraw PICT
Subtitle Spruce subtitle (STL)
Adobe Flash Player (SWF) Video Screen video, Screen video 2, Sorenson Spark and VP6
Audio Adobe SWF ADPCM and Nellymoser Asao
Adobe / Aldus Image TIFF, PSD,[51] and DNG
Xiph.Org Video Theora
Audio Speex,[52] Vorbis, Opus and FLAC
Subtitle Ogg Writ
Sony Audio Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC1, ATRAC3, ATRAC3Plus,[53] and ATRAC9[47])[42] and PSX ADPCM
NTT Audio TwinVQ
Google / On2 / GIPS Video Duck TrueMotion 1, Duck TrueMotion 2, Duck TrueMotion 2.0 Real Time, VP3, VP4,[54] VP5,[42] VP6,[42] VP7, VP8,[55] VP9[29] and animated WebP
Audio DK ADPCM Audio 3/4, On2 AVC and iLBC (via libilbc)
Image WebP[56]
Epic Games / RAD Game Tools Video Smacker video and Bink video
Audio Bink audio
CRI Middleware Audio ADX ADPCM, and HCA
Nintendo / NERD Video Mobiclip video
Audio GCADPCM (a.k.a. ADPCM THP), FastAudio, and ADPCM IMA MOFLEX
Synaptics / DSP Group Audio Truespeech
Electronic Arts / Criterion Games / Black Box Games / Westwood Studios Video RenderWare TXD,[57] Madcow, CMV, TGV, TGQ, TQI, Midivid VQ (MVDV), MidiVid 3.0 (MV30), Midivid Archival (MVHA), and Vector Quantized Animation (VQA)
Audio Electronic Arts ADPCM variants
Netpbm Image PBM, PGM, PPM, PNM, PAM, PFM and PHM
MIT/X Consortium/The Open Group Image XBM,[50] XPM and xwd
HPE / SGI / Silicon Graphics Video Silicon Graphics RLE 8-bit video,[46] Silicon Graphics MVC1/2[46]
Image Silicon Graphics Image
Oracle/Sun Microsystems Image Sun Raster
IBM Video IBM UltiMotion
Avid Technology / Truevision Video Avid 1:1x, Avid Meridien,[50] Avid DNxHD, Avid DNx444,[53] and DNxHR
Image Targa[46]
Autodesk / Alias Video Autodesk Animator Studio Codec and FLIC
Image Alias PIX
Activision Blizzard / Activision / Infocom Audio ADPCM Zork
Konami / Hudson Soft Video HVQM4 Video
Audio Konami MTAF, and ADPCM IMA HVQM4
Grass Valley / Canopus Video HQ, HQA, HQX and Lossless
Vizrt / NewTek Video SpeedHQ
Image Vizrt Binary Image[45]
Academy Software Foundation / ILM Image OpenEXR[50]
Mozilla Corporation Video APNG[56]
Matrox Video Matrox Uncompressed SD (M101) / HD (M102)
Asus Video ASUS V1/V2 codec
Commodore Video CDXL codec
Kodak Image Photo CD
Blackmagic Design / Cintel Image Cintel RAW
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / The Learning Company / ZSoft Corporation Image PCX
Australian National University Image X-Face[46]
Bluetooth Special Interest Group Audio SBC, and mSBC
Qualcomm / CSR Audio QCELP, aptX, and aptX HD
Open Mobile Alliance / WAP Forum Image Wireless Bitmap


Output formats (container formats and other ways of creating output streams) in FFmpeg are called "muxers". FFmpeg supports, among others, the following:

Pixel formats

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Type Color Packed Planar Palette
Without alpha With alpha Without alpha With alpha Chroma-interleaved With alpha
Monochrome Binary (1-bit monochrome) monoblack, monowhite
Grayscale 8/9/10/12/14/16bpp 16/32bpp
RGB RGB 1:2:1 (4-bit color) 4bpp
RGB 3:3:2 (8-bit color) 8bpp
RGB 5:5:5 (High color) 16bpp
RGB 5:6:5 (High color) 16bpp
RGB/BGR 24/30[p 1]/48bpp 32[p 2]/64bpp 8bit->32bpp
GBR[p 3] 8/9/10/12/14/16bpc 8/10/12/16bpc
RGB Float RGB 32bpc 16/32bpc
GBR 32bpc 32bpc
YUV YVU 4:1:0 (9bpp (YVU9))[p 4]
YUV 4:1:0 9bpp
YUV 4:1:1 8bpc (UYYVYY) 8bpc (8bpc (NV11))
YVU 4:2:0 (8bpc (YV12))[p 4] 8 (NV21)
YUV 4:2:0 8[p 5]/9/10/12/14/16bpc 8/9/10/16bpc 8 (NV12)/10 (P010)/12 (P012)/16bpc (P016)
YVU 4:2:2 (8bpc (YV16))[p 4] (8bpc (NV61))
YUV 4:2:2 8 (YUYV[p 6] and UYVY)/10 (Y210)/12bpc (Y212)[p 7] 8[p 8]/9/10/12/14/16bpc 8/9/10/12/16bpc 8 (NV16)/10 (NV20 and P210)/16bpc (P216)
YUV 4:4:0 8/10/12bpc
YVU 4:4:4 (8bpc (YV24))[p 4] 8bpc (NV42)
YUV 4:4:4 8 (VUYX)/10[p 9]/12bpc[p 10] 8[p 11] / 16bpc (AYUV64)[p 12] 8[p 13]/9/10/12/14/16bpc 8/9/10/12/16bpc 8 (NV24)/10 (P410)/ 16bpc (P416)
XYZ XYZ 4:4:4[p 14] 12bpc
  1. ^ 10-bit color components with 2-bit padding (X2RGB10)
  2. ^ RGBx (rgb0) and xBGR (0bgr) are also supported
  3. ^ used in YUV-centric codecs such like H.264
  4. ^ a b c d YVU9, YV12, YV16, and YV24 are supported as rawvideo codec in FFmpeg.
  5. ^ I420 a.k.a. YUV420P
  6. ^ aka YUY2 in Windows
  7. ^ UYVY 10bpc without a padding is supported as bitpacked codec in FFmpeg. UYVY 10bpc with 2-bits padding is supported as v210 codec in FFmpeg. 16bpc (Y216) is supported as targa_y216 codec in FFmpeg.
  8. ^ I422 a.k.a. YUV422P
  9. ^ XV30 a.k.a. XVYU2101010
  10. ^ XV36
  11. ^ VUYA a.k.a. AYUV
  12. ^ 10bpc (Y410), 12bpc (Y412), and Y416 (16bpc) are not supported.
  13. ^ I444 a.k.a. YUV444P
  14. ^ used in JPEG2000

FFmpeg does not support IMC1-IMC4, AI44, CYMK, RGBE, Log RGB and other formats. It also does not yet support ARGB 1:5:5:5, 2:10:10:10, or other BMP bitfield formats that are not commonly used.

Supported protocols

Open standards

De facto standards

Supported filters

FFmpeg supports, among others, the following filters.[68]



Supported test patterns

Supported LUT formats

Supported media and interfaces

FFmpeg supports the following devices via external libraries.[70]


Physical interfaces

Audio IO

Video IO

Screen capture and output



Legal aspects

FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs,[71] most of which use compression techniques of one kind or another. Many such compression techniques may be subject to legal claims relating to software patents.[72] Such claims may be enforceable in countries like the United States which have implemented software patents, but are considered unenforceable or void in member countries of the European Union, for example.[73][original research] Patents for many older codecs, including AC3 and all MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 codecs, have expired.[citation needed]

FFmpeg is licensed under the LGPL license, but if a particular build of FFmpeg is linked against any GPL libraries (notably x264), then the entire binary is licensed under the GPL.

Projects using FFmpeg

Main category: Software that uses FFmpeg

FFmpeg is used by software such as Blender, Cinelerra-GG Infinity, HandBrake, Kodi, MPC-HC, Plex, Shotcut, VirtualDub2 (a VirtualDub fork),[74] VLC media player, xine and YouTube.[75][76] It handles video and audio playback in Google Chrome[76] and the Linux version of Firefox.[77] GUI front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including Multimedia Xpert[78] and XMedia Recode.

FFmpeg is used by ffdshow, FFmpegInterop, the GStreamer FFmpeg plug-in, LAV Filters and OpenMAX IL to expand the encoding and decoding capabilities of their respective multimedia platforms.

As part of NASA's Mars 2020 mission, FFmpeg is used by the Perseverance rover on Mars for image and video compression before footage is sent to Earth.[79]

See also


  1. ^ "Bobby announces work on libavfilter as GsOC project". 2008-02-09. Archived from the original on 2021-10-07. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  2. ^ "Initial revision - git.videolan.org/ffmpeg.git/commit". git.videolan.org. 2000-12-20. Archived from the original on 2013-12-25. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  3. ^ "Releases FFmpeg".
  4. ^ "Developer Documentation". ffmpeg.org. 2011-12-08. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  5. ^ "Platform Specific Information". FFmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 25 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Download". ffmpeg.org. FFmpeg. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  7. ^ FFmpeg can be compiled with various external libraries, some of which have licenses that are incompatible with the FFmpeg's primary license, the GNU GPL.
  8. ^ a b "FFmpeg: Lavf: I/O and Muxing/Demuxing Library". ffmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Libavfilter Documentation". ffmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 2021-10-07. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  10. ^ ijkplayer, bilibili, 2021-10-05, archived from the original on 2021-10-05, retrieved 2021-10-05
  11. ^ Niedermayer, Michael (31 July 2015). "[FFmpeg-devel] FFmpegs future and resigning as leader". Archived from the original on 2015-08-15. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  12. ^ Bellard, Fabrice (18 February 2006). "FFmpeg naming and logo". FFmpeg developer mailing list. FFmpeg website. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  13. ^ Carlsen, Steve (1992-06-03). "TIFF 6.0 specification" (PS). Aldus Corporation. p. 98. Retrieved 2016-08-14. Zig-Zag Scan[dead link] Alt URL Archived 2012-07-03 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Libav project site, archived from the original on 2012-01-03, retrieved 2012-01-04
  15. ^ Ronald S. Bultje (2011-03-14), Project renamed to Libav, archived from the original on 2016-11-07, retrieved 2012-01-04
  16. ^ A group of FFmpeg developers just forked as Libav, Phoronix, 2011-03-14, archived from the original on 2011-09-15, retrieved 2012-01-04
  17. ^ What happened to FFmpeg, 2011-03-30, archived from the original on 2018-09-02, retrieved 2012-05-19
  18. ^ FFMpeg turmoil, 2011-01-19, archived from the original on 2012-01-12, retrieved 2012-01-04
  19. ^ "The FFmpeg/Libav situation". blog.pkh.me. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  20. ^ "FFmpeg and a thousand fixes". googleblog.com. January 10, 2014. Archived from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  21. ^ "ffserver – FFmpeg". trac.ffmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  22. ^ "ffserver program being dropped". ffmpeg.org. 2016-07-10. Archived from the original on 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  23. ^ "ffmpeg.org/download.html#releases". ffmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  24. ^ a b "NUT". Multimedia Wiki. 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  25. ^ Glaser, Fiona (2010-07-23), Diary Of An x264 Developer: Announcing the world's fastest VP8 decoder, archived from the original on 2010-09-30, retrieved 2012-01-04
  26. ^ FFmpeg Announces High-Performance VP8 Decoder, Slashdot, 2010-07-24, archived from the original on 2011-12-21, retrieved 2012-01-04
  27. ^ "FFmpeg Goes WebM, Enabling VP8 for Boxee & Co". newteevee.com. 2010-06-17. Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2012-01-04. ...with VLC, Boxee, MythTV, Handbrake and MPlayer being some of the more popular projects utilizing FFmpeg...
  28. ^ a b "Native VP9 decoder is now in the Git master branch". Launchpad. 2013-10-03. Archived from the original on 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  29. ^ a b "FFmpeg Now Features Native HEVC/H.265 Decoder Support". Softpedia. 2013-10-16. Archived from the original on 2014-06-15. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  30. ^ FFmpeg (2016-02-15). "February 15th, 2016, FFmpeg 3.0 "Einstein"". Archived from the original on 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  31. ^ FFmpeg (2017-10-15). "October 15th, 2017, FFmpeg 3.4 "Cantor"". Archived from the original on 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  32. ^ FFmpeg (2018-11-06). "November 6th, 2018, FFmpeg 4.1 "al-Khwarizmi"". Archived from the original on 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
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