In the world of computing and programming, data encoding and decoding is a crucial part of many applications. One popular encoding technique is Base64, which is used to represent binary data in ASCII format. In this article, we will explore what Base64 is, how it works, and where it is used.
What is Base64?
Base64 is a binary-to-text encoding scheme that converts binary data into a set of 64 printable ASCII characters. The encoding scheme was first used in email systems to transfer attachments, but now it is used in many other applications as well.
How does Base64 work?
To understand how Base64 works, let's start with the basics of binary data representation. In computers, data is represented in binary form, which means it is made up of 0s and 1s. Binary data is not directly human-readable, which is where Base64 comes in.
The Base64 encoding process takes a stream of binary data as input and converts it into a sequence of ASCII characters. To do this, the input data is divided into groups of 3 bytes (24 bits) each. Each group is then converted into a 4-byte (32-bit) sequence, with each byte containing 6 bits of data.
The resulting 4-byte sequence is then mapped to a set of 64 ASCII characters using a lookup table. This table includes characters from A to Z, a to z, 0 to 9, and two special characters, + and /.
If the input data does not divide evenly into 3-byte groups, padding characters are added to the end of the input data. The padding character is usually the equals sign (=), which has no value in the Base64 encoding.