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University of Vienna

Coordinates: 48°12′47″N 16°21′35″E / 48.21306°N 16.35972°E / 48.21306; 16.35972
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University of Vienna
Universität Wien
Latin: Universitas Vindobonensis
Former name
Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis
Established1365; 659 years ago (1365)
Budget€691.5 million (2021)[1]
RectorSebastian Schütze
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Total staff
Students88,900 (2021)[1]
48°12′47″N 16°21′35″E / 48.21306°N 16.35972°E / 48.21306; 16.35972
ColorsBlue and white   

The University of Vienna (German: Universität Wien) is a public research university located in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365, it is the oldest university in the modern German-speaking world and among the largest institutions of higher learning in Europe.[2] The university is associated with 16 Nobel Prize winners and has been the home to many scholars of historical and academic importance.


Opening proclamation prior to 1578 academic term

Middle Ages to the Enlightenment[edit]

The university was founded on March 12, 1365, by Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, hence the name "Alma Mater Rudolphina".[3] After the Charles University in Prague and Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the University of Vienna is the third oldest university in Central Europe and the oldest university in the contemporary German-speaking world; it remains a question of definition as the Charles University in Prague was German-speaking when founded, too. However, Pope Urban V did not ratify the deed of foundation that had been sanctioned by Rudolf IV, specifically in relation to the department of theology. This was presumably due to pressure exerted by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to avoid competition for the Charles University in Prague.[4]

The pope later granted an endowment to the university in 1365, while papal assent was finally received in 1384.[5] This led to the University of Vienna and its Faculty of Catholic Theology being granted the status of a full university.[6] The first university building opened in 1385. It grew into the biggest university of the Holy Roman Empire, and during the advent of Humanism in the mid-15th century was home to more than 6,000 students.[7]

In its early years, the university had a partly hierarchical, partly cooperative structure, in which the Rector was at the top, while the students had little say and were settled at the bottom. The Magister and Doctors constituted the four faculties and elected the academic officials from amidst their ranks. The students, but also all other Supposita (university members), were divided into four Academic Nations. Their elected board members, mostly graduates themselves, had the right to elect the Rector. He presided over the Consistory which included procurators of each of the nations and the faculty deans, as well as over the University Assembly, in which all university teachers participated. Complaints or appeals against decisions of the faculty by the students had to be brought forward by a Magister or Doctor.[7]

The courtyard (arkadenhof) of the current main building, constructed between 1877 and 1884

Being considered a Papal Institution, the university suffered a setback during the Reformation. In addition, epidemics, economic stagnation, and the first Siege of Vienna by Ottoman forces had devastating effects on the city, leading to a sharp decline in enrollment. For Emperor Ferdinand I, this meant that the university should be tied to the church to an even stronger degree, and in 1551 he installed the Jesuit Order there.[3] As time went on, conflicts between the Jesuit school and the university arose. This led Emperor Ferdinand II, in 1623, to pass a law that incorporated the Jesuit College into the university.[8] It was only in the mid-18th century that the Jesuits lost influence over the university and when Empress Maria Theresa ensured that the university went under the control of the monarchy. The university would later focus on the education of physicians and civil servants. Her successor Joseph II continued her reforms and further liberalized the university, abolishing official attire and allowing both Protestants and Jews to enroll by 1782, as well as introducing German as the compulsory language of instruction the year later.[3]

Modern history[edit]

Students riot at the University of Vienna after a Nazi attempt to prevent Jews from entering the university (c. 1938)

Significant changes were instituted in the wake of the Revolution in 1848, with the Philosophical Faculty being upgraded into equal status as Theology, Law and Medicine. Led by the reforms of Leopold, Count von Thun und Hohenstein, the university was able to achieve a larger degree of academic freedom.[3] The current main building on the Ringstraße was built between 1877 and 1884 by Heinrich von Ferstel. The previous main building was located close to the Stuben Gate (Stubentor) on Iganz Seipel Square, the current home of the old University Church (Universitätskirche) and the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften). Women were admitted as full students in 1897, although their studies were limited to Philosophy. The remaining departments gradually followed suit, although with considerable delay: Medicine in 1900, Law in 1919, Protestant Theology in 1923, and finally Roman Catholic Theology in 1946.[2] Ten years after the admission of the first female students, Elise Richter became the first woman to receive habilitation, becoming professor of Romance languages in 1907; she was also the first female distinguished professor.

In the late 1920s, the university was in steady turmoil because of anti-democratic and anti-Semitic activity by parts of the student body. Professor Moritz Schlick was killed by a former student while ascending the steps of the university for a class. His murderer was later released by the Nazi regime. Following the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi regime, in 1938 the University of Vienna was reformed under political aspects, and a huge number of teachers and students were dismissed for political and "racial" reasons.[9] In April 1945, the then 22-year-old Kurt Schubert, later acknowledged doyen of Judaic Studies at the University of Vienna, was permitted by the Soviet occupation forces to open the university again for teaching, which is why he is regarded as the unofficial first rector in the post-war period. On 25 April 1945, however, the constitutional lawyer Ludwig Adamovich senior was elected as the official rector of the University of Vienna.

A large degree of participation by students and university staff was realized in 1975, however, the University Reforms of 1993 and 2002 largely re-established the professors as the main decision-makers. However, also as part of the 2002 reform, the university, after more than 250 years of being largely under governmental control, finally regained its full legal capacity. The number of faculties and centers was increased to 18, and the whole of the medical faculty was separated into the new Medical University of Vienna.[10]


Main building
Main building, c. 1950s

The University of Vienna does not have one single campus. Historically, the university started functioning from the First District near the Jesuit Church. Now, the academic facilities occupy more than sixty locations throughout the city of Vienna. The historical main building on the Ringstraße constitutes the university's center and is commonly referred to as "die Uni". Most other larger university facilities and lecture halls are located nearby in the area of Vienna's First and Ninth District: the so-called new Lecture Hall Complex (Neues Institutgebäude, NIG), the lecture hall complex Althanstraße (UZA), the campus on the premises of the Historical General Hospital of Vienna, the Faculty of Law (Juridicum) and others. The Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna is housed in the Third District, as are the Department of Biochemistry and related research centers.[11]

Also worth mentioning is the Vienna Observatory, which belongs to the university, and the Institute for University Sports (USI), which offers training and recreational possibilities to all students of the university. In addition, the University of Vienna maintains facilities outside of Vienna in the Austrian provinces of Lower Austria, Upper Austria, and Carinthia. These are mainly research and experimental departments for Biology, Astrophysics and Sports.[11]


The reading room in the university's main library
Entrance to the large reading room

The University Library of the University of Vienna comprises the Main Library and the 50 departmental libraries at various university locations throughout Vienna. The library's primary responsibility is to the members of the university; however, the library's 350 staff members also provide access to the public. Use of the books in the reading halls is open to all persons without the need for identification, which is only required for checking out books. The library's website provides direct access to information such as electronic journals, online indices, and databases.[12]


Rudolf IV had already provided for a publica libraria in the Foundation Deed of 12 March 1365, where the valuable books bequeathed by deceased members of the university should be collected. Through many legacies, this collection was subsequently greatly increased and became the basis of the old Libreye that was accommodated in the same building as the student infirmary. In addition, there were libraries in the separate Faculties and in the Duke's College.

Main Ceremonial Chamber (Festsaal) in the Main Building

From the 17th century onwards, interest in the old library, with its manuscripts and incunabulae, went into decline and the modern library in the Jesuit College came to the fore. In 1756, the oldest university library was finally closed down and its books, 2,787 volumes, were incorporated into the Court Library, of which Gerard van Swieten was then director. After the dissolution of the Jesuit order (1773), the new "Academic Library" was created out of the book collections of the five Lower Austrian Colleges and many duplicates from the Court Library. This was opened on 13 May 1777, the birthday of Maria Theresa of Austria, in the building of the Academic College. Initially, the stock consisted of some 45,000 books, and during Emperor Joseph II's dissolution of the monasteries, this was soon considerably extended. In contrast to its antecedents, the new library was open to the general public. Between 1827 and 1829, it acquired the classicist extension (Postgasse 9) to the Academic College, in which it was to be accommodated until 1884. In this year, the main library, with some 300,000 books, moved to Heinrich von Ferstel's new Main Building on the Ring, where stacks for some 500,000 volumes had already been prepared. With an annual growth of up to 30,000 volumes, the surplus space was soon filled. Book storage space had to be extended continuously. One hundred years later, the complete library, including departmental and subject libraries, comprised more than 4.3 million volumes. Today, Vienna's University Library is the largest collection of books in Austria, still facing problems of space. In addition to the Main Library, which alone has to cope with an annual growth of 40,000 volumes, it includes three Faculty Libraries, 32 Subject Libraries and 26 Departmental Libraries.[13]

Statistics (2023)[edit]

  • Book inventory: 7,782,104 (of which 2,936,580 belong to the Main Library)
  • E-Journals: 155,072
  • E-Books: 1,808,095
  • Search queries in the online catalogue: 11.349.382
  • Borrowings and renewals of books: 2,981,919
  • Oldest book: Bible from the Dorothean monastery, 1392 ("Biblia manuscripta"; entry in the online catalogue: https://ubdata.univie.ac.at/AC16383568)[14]


Exterior facade of the main building

The University of Vienna, like all universities and academies in Austria, once featured a system of democratic representation. Power in the university was divided equally among three groups: students (the largest group), junior faculty, and full professors. All groups had the right to send representatives to boards, who then voted on almost every issue. From 2002 on, the government of Austria, headed by chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, reformed the university system, transforming the institutions into legal entities, but also concentrating power in the hands of the full professors.[15] The reform also introduced a board of governors and tuition fees. In 2013, those amounted to about €381 per semester for students from Austria, the European Union as well as some non-EU countries, while students from developed non-EU countries usually pay double that amount. The reforms also separated the medical departments into separate medical schools, such as the Medical University of Vienna.


Faculty of Law

Students at the university can select from 181 degree programs: 55 bachelor programs, 110 master programs, 3 diploma programs, and 13 doctoral programmes. In the academic year 2013/14, the university awarded 7,745 first degrees (Bachelors and Diplomas), 1,424 Master's degrees, and 568 Doctoral degrees. The university offers a number of Master's programs in English, including quantitative economics, management and finance, science-technology-society, environmental sciences, Middle European interdisciplinary master programme in cognitive science, European master in health and physical activity, English language and linguistics, Anglophone literature and culture, East Asian economy and society, economics, botany, ecology and ecosystems, molecular biology, microbial ecology and immunobiology, European master in urban studies, masters in European and international business law, mathematics, etc.[16]

Faculty of Mathematics

Some 6,900 scholars undertake research and teaching activities at the university. Of these, approximately 1,000 engage actively in projects financed by third parties. The main fields of research at the university cover a wide spectrum of subjects: Catholic and Protestant theology, law, economic sciences and computer science, philological-cultural studies and historical-cultural studies, social sciences and psychology, life sciences and natural sciences, mathematics, sports sciences, and teacher education.

Faculties and centres[edit]

The University of Vienna consists of 15 faculties and 5 centers:[17]

  1. Faculty of Catholic Theology
  2. Faculty of Protestant Theology
  3. Faculty of Law
  4. Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics (not to be confused with the Vienna University of Economics and Business)
  5. Faculty of Computer science
  6. Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies
  7. Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies
  8. Faculty of Philosophy and Education
  9. Faculty of Psychology
  10. Faculty of Social sciences
  11. Faculty of Mathematics
  12. Faculty of Physics
  13. Faculty of Chemistry
  14. Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy
  15. Faculty of Life sciences
  1. Centre for Translation studies
  2. Centre for Sport science and University Sports
  3. Centre for Molecular biology
  4. Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science
  5. Centre for Teacher Education

Academic reputation[edit]

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[18]101-150 (2023)
QS World[19]130 (2024)
THE World[20]119 (2024)
USNWR Global[21]208 (2024)
National – Overall
USNWR National[22]2 (2023)

The University of Vienna has the highest ranking in Mathematics and in Arts and Humanities. In Mathematics it is placed 29th in the world according to the Shanghai-Ranking. In Arts and Humanities it is placed 35th and 54th in the world according to the THE and QS ranking respectively. Outstanding subjects include Geography (ranked 28th globally in 2013), Linguistics and Philosophy (both 46th globally) and Law (ranked 73rd globally). It is rated high in academic reputation and number of international students, but low in terms of faculty-to-student ratio and citations per faculty.[23][24][25]

QS World University Rankings by Subject (2024)[26]
Communication & Media Studies 10
Theology 21
History 33
Archaeology 35
Classics & Ancient History 40
Anthropology 43
Linguistics 46
Philosophy 49
Sociology 55
Arts & Humanities 58
Modern Languages 62
Psychology 77
English Language & Literature 86
Earth & Marine Sciences 51-100
Geology 51-100
Geography 51-100
Geophysics 51-100
Politics 51-100
Statistics & Operational Research 51-100
Biological Sciences 96
Law & Legal Studies 97
Mathematics 97
Agriculture & Forestry 98
Natural Sciences 111

An overview of the QS World University Rankings by subjects:[27]

Subjects World Ranking by Years
2019[27] 2020[28] 2021[29] 2022[30]
Arts & Humanities 70 58 47 43
Classics & Ancient History 16 25 32 30
Archaeology 37 37 46 35
Politics 101–150 101–150 51–100 51–100
Theology 51–100 51–100 29 30
Philosophy 51–100 51–100 51–100 51–100
History 51–100 51–100 51–100 49
Sociology 51–100 51–100 74 59
Anthropology 51–100 48 49 46
Earth & Marine Sciences 51–100 51–100 101–150 101–150
Communication & Media Studies 35 30 24 19
Linguistics 51–100 33 30 35
Modern Languages 51–100 51–100 67 68

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings by subjects:[31]

Year World Ranking
Arts & Humanities Business & Economics Life Sciences
2019 30 83 95

The Shanghai-Ranking in Mathematics:[32]

World Ranking
2020 2021 2022
Mathematics 36 33 29

Notable people[edit]

Faculty and scholars[edit]

Arcades in the courtyard of the main building

Nobel Prize Laureates who taught at the University of Vienna include Robert Bárány, Julius Wagner-Jauregg, Hans Fischer, Karl Landsteiner, Erwin Schrödinger, Victor Franz Hess, Otto Loewi, Konrad Lorenz and Friedrich Hayek.[3]

The University of Vienna was the cradle of the Austrian School of economics. The founders of this school who studied and later instructed at the University of Vienna included Carl Menger, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Friedrich von Wieser, Joseph Schumpeter, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.

Other famous scholars who have taught at the University of Vienna are: Theodor W. Adorno, Alexander Van der Bellen, Manfred Bietak, Theodor Billroth, Ludwig Boltzmann, Ulrich Brand, Franz Brentano, Anton Bruckner, Rudolf Carnap, Conrad Celtes, Adrian Constantin, Viktor Frankl, Sigmund Freud, Karl Samuel Grünhut, Eduard Hanslick, Edmund Hauler, Jalile Jalil, Leon Kellner, Hans Kelsen, Adam František Kollár, Johann Josef Loschmidt, Franz Miklosich, Oskar Morgenstern, Otto Neurath, Johann Palisa, Pope Pius II, Karl Popper, Elise Richter, Baron Carl von Rokitansky, Rudolf von Scherer, Peter Schuster, August Schleicher, Moritz Schlick, Ludwig Karl Schmarda, Joseph von Sonnenfels, Josef Stefan, Olga Taussky-Todd, Hans Thirring, Walter Thirring, Walter G. Url, Leopold Vietoris, Carl Auer von Welsbach, and Wilhelm Winkler.

Nobel laureates[edit]

The grand staircase (Feststiege) in the Main Building

There are total 16 Nobel Prize Laureates affiliated to the university as follows:

Name Field In Year
Robert Bárány Physiology or Medicine 1914
Richard Adolf Zsigmondy Chemistry 1925
Julius Wagner-Jauregg Physiology or Medicine 1927
Hans Fischer Chemistry 1930
Karl Landsteiner Physiology or Medicine 1930
Erwin Schrödinger Physics 1933
Otto Loewi Physiology or Medicine 1936
Victor Francis Hess Physics 1936
Richard Kuhn Chemistry 1938
Max Perutz Chemistry 1962
Karl von Frisch Physiology or Medicine 1973
Konrad Lorenz Physiology or Medicine 1973
Friedrich Hayek Economics 1974
Elias Canetti Literature 1981
Elfriede Jelinek Literature 2004
Anton Zeilinger Physics 2022


Some of the university's better-known students include: Kurt Adler, Franz Alt, Wilhelm Altar, Maria Anwander, Napoleon Baniewicz, Bruno Bettelheim, Rudolf Bing, Lucian Blaga, Hedda Bolgar, Michael Brainin, Josef Breuer, F. F. Bruce, Elias Canetti, Ivan Cankar, Otto Maria Carpeaux, Friedrich Cerha, Felix Ehrenhaft, Olga Ehrenhaft-Steindler, Mihai Eminescu, Stephen Ferguson, Paul Feyerabend, Heinz Fischer, O. W. Fischer, Ivan Franko, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Albrecht Friedländer, Alcide De Gasperi, Hilda Geiringer, Kurt Gödel, Ernst Gombrich, Franz Grillparzer, Karina Grömer, Werner Gruber, Karl Samuel Grünhut, Pamela Gutman, Hans Hahn, Jörg Haider, Friedrich Hayek, Leo-Ferdinand Henckel von Donnersmarck, Theodor Herzl, Anneliese Hitzenberger, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Edmund Husserl, Marie Jahoda, Max Jammer, Elfriede Jelinek, Percy Julian, Karl Kautsky, Elisabeth Kehrer, Leon Kellner, Hans Kelsen, Hryhoriy Khomyshyn, Jan Kickert, Rudolf Kirchschläger, Arthur Koestler, Jernej Kopitar, Karl Kordesch, Arnold Krammer, Karl Kraus, Bruno Kreisky, Richard Kuhn, Hermann F. Kvergić, Paul Lazarsfeld, Ignacy Łukasiewicz, Gustav Mahler, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Lise Meitner, Gregor Mendel, Karl Menger, Franz Mesmer, Egon Orowan, Franz Miklosich, Alois Mock, Wolf-Dieter Montag, Matija Murko, Paul Niel, Joachim Oppenheim, Eduard Pernkopf, Anton Piëch, Ioan Nicolidi of Pindus, Pope Pius III, Hans Popper, Karl Popper, Otto Preminger, Wilhelm Reich, Peter Safar, Monika Salzer, Mordecai Sandberg, Mordkhe Schaechter, Karl Schenkl, Max Schloessinger, Marianne Schmidl, Andreas Schnider, Arthur Schnitzler, Albin Schram, Joseph Schumpeter, Wolfgang Schüssel, Peter Schuster, John J. Shea, Jr., Mihalj Šilobod Bolšić, Maria Simon, Felix Somary, Marian Smoluchowski, Adalbert Stifter, Countess Stoeffel, Yemima Tchernovitz-Avidar, Eric Voegelin, Kurt Waldheim, Calvin Edouard Ward, Otto Weininger, Slavko Wolf, Eduard Zirm, Stefan Zweig, and Huldrych Zwingli.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Figures and Facts" (PDF). University of Vienna. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 February 2023. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  2. ^ a b "University of Vienna | university, Vienna, Austria | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Archived from the original on 6 August 2023. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e "University of Vienna: 650 Years". New Austrian. 13 November 2015. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  4. ^ Mühlberger, Kurt (27 February 2015). "The beginnings of the Alma Mater Rudolphina". 650 plus. Archived from the original on 1 December 2022. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Pope Urban V confirms the endowment of the University of Vienna, 18 June 1365". Die Welt der Habsburger. Archived from the original on 23 October 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  6. ^ "Pope Urban V confirms the endowment of the University of Vienna, 18 June 1365". Die Welt der Habsburger. Archived from the original on 23 October 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  7. ^ a b kniefacz, katharina (27 February 2015). "Renaissance humanism at the University of Vienna". 650 plus. Archived from the original on 1 December 2022. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  8. ^ Maisel, Thomas (27 February 2015). "The Society of Jesus and the University of Vienna". 650 plus. Archived from the original on 23 October 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Memorial Book for the Victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938". University of Vienna. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  10. ^ "MedUni Wien: Facts & Figures". 16 March 2016. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  11. ^ a b "University of Vienna locations". www.univie.ac.at. Archived from the original on 31 May 2023. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  12. ^ "About Us – Vienna University Library". bibliothek.univie.ac.at. Archived from the original on 31 May 2023. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  13. ^ "An Historical Tour of the University of Vienna". The University Library. University of Vienna Archives. Archived from the original on 19 November 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Facts and Figures – Vienna University Library". Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  15. ^ "Die Reform des Grauens". Die Zeit. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Degree programmes". studieren.univie.ac.at. Archived from the original on 31 May 2023. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Faculties & centres". www.univie.ac.at. Archived from the original on 31 May 2023. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  18. ^ "ShanghaiRanking-Univiersities". Archived from the original on 14 October 2022. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  19. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2024". Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  20. ^ "University of Vienna". Archived from the original on 24 November 2022. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  21. ^ "U.S. News Education: Best Global Universities 2024". Archived from the original on 7 July 2022. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  22. ^ "Best Global Universities in Austria". www.usnews.com. Archived from the original on 27 December 2022. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  23. ^ "Top 100 universities for Arts and Humanities 2013–14". Times Higher Education. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  24. ^ "University of Vienna Rankings". QS World University Rankings. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  25. ^ "University of Vienna Subject Rankings". QS World University Rankings. Archived from the original on 14 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  26. ^ "University of Vienna". Top Universities. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  27. ^ a b "University of Vienna". Top Universities. QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2017. Archived from the original on 14 October 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Subject Rankings 2020". Top Universities. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  29. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021". Top Universities. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  30. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022". Top Universities. Archived from the original on 26 October 2022. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  31. ^ "University of Vienna". The Times Higher Education. 2017. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities, Mathematics". 2023. Archived from the original on 2 August 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2023.

External links[edit]