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Another place where kerning is of interest is in synthesizing ligatures on the fly. A given font (typeface + variant) may not include ligatures (joined letters)
close up certain letter combinations until they are literally touching each other
It appears that my browser (Firefox) and its font files may be attempting to do just this (synthesize ligatures), as the letters in ffl and fi appear to be closer than normal,
As I said, my browser may be attempting to synthesize a ligature — the letters look a little closer together than normal, but it's hard to tell.