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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is ASCII?
3.
What is UNICODE?
4.
Difference between UNICODE and ASCII
5.
Advantages of Using UNICODE over ASCII
6.
Frequently Asked Questions
6.1.
How can we handle emojis and pictographs with the help of UNICODE characters?
6.2.
How do Unicode characters affect the performance of the program?
6.3.
Is UNICODE a platform-dependent encoding technique?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Difference Between UNICODE and ASCII

Author Aayush Sharma
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Introduction

In computers, we apply various techniques to convert our languages into machine-understandable processes. The computer is only able to understand machine language and can't understand high-level languages like C++, Java, Python, etc. We apply various character encoding techniques to convert these languages into machine language. Two of the most important methods used for character encoding are ASCII and the UNICODE technique.

difference between unicode and ascii

In this blog, we will discuss the difference between UNICODE and ASCII. We will study ASCII and UNICODE separately and discuss some of their significant differences in a tabular format. Ultimately, we will discuss some frequently asked questions about ASCII and UNICODE.

What is ASCII?

ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII uses integers to encode numbers(0-9), uppercase alphabets(A-Z), lowercase alphabets(a-z), and some common symbols such as semicolon, exclamation, etc. ASCII was introduced when computers were starting to develop. Back then, computers could only understand basic symbols and letters.

Since integers are more accessible to store in the memory than letters and symbols, each character was given a unique value called ASCII value. The ASCII chart of all the numbers is shown below.

Decimal

Binary

ASCII

Decimal

Binary

ASCII

0

00000000

NUL

64

01000000

@

1

00000001

SOH

65

01000001

A

2

00000010

STX

66

01000010

B

3

00000011

ETX

67

01000011

C

4

00000100

EOT

68

01000100

D

5

00000101

ENQ

69

01000101

E

6

00000110

ACK

70

01000110

F

7

00000111

BEL

71

01000111

G

8

00001000

BS

72

01001000

H

9

00001001

HT

73

01001001

I

10

00001010

LF

74

01001010

J

11

00001011

VT

75

01001011

K

12

00001100

FF

76

01001100

L

13

00001101

CR

77

01001101

M

14

00001110

SO

78

01001110

N

15

00001111

SI

79

01001111

O

16

00010000

DLE

80

01010000

P

17

00010001

DC1

81

01010001

Q

18

00010010

DC2

82

01010010

R

19

00010011

DC3

83

01010011

S

20

00010100

DC4

84

01010100

T

21

00010101

NAK

85

01010101

U

22

00010110

SYN

86

01010110

V

23

00010111

ETB

87

01010111

X

24

00011000

CAN

88

01011000

W

25

00011001

EM

89

01011001

Y

26

00011010

SUB

90

01011010

Z

27

00011011

ESC

91

01011011

[

28

00011100

FS

92

01011100

|

29

00011101

GS

93

01011101

]

30

00011110

RS

94

01011110

^

31

00011111

US

95

01011111

_

32

00100000

SP

96

01100000

.

33

00100001

!

97

01100001

a

34

00100010

"

98

01100010

b

35

00100011

#

99

01100011

c

36

00100100

$

100

01100100

d

37

00100101

%

101

01100101

e

38

00100110

&

102

01100110

f

39

00100111

'

103

01100111

g

40

00101000

(

104

01101000

h

41

00101001

)

105

01101001

i

42

00101010

*

106

01101010

j

43

00101011

+

107

01101011

k

44

00101100

,

108

01101100

l

45

00101101

-

109

01101101

m

46

00101110

.

110

01101110

n

47

00101111

/

111

01101111

o

48

00110000

0

112

01110000

p

49

00110001

1

113

01110001

q

50

00110010

2

114

01110010

r

51

00110011

3

115

01110011

s

52

00110100

4

116

01110100

t

53

00110101

5

117

01110101

u

54

00110110

6

118

01110110

v

55

00110111

7

119

01110111

w

56

00111000

8

120

01111000

x

57

00111001

9

121

01111001

y

58

00111010

:

122

01111010

z

59

00111011

;

123

01111011

{

60

00111100

<

124

01111100

|

61

00111101

=

125

01111101

}

62

00111110

>

126

01111110

~

63

00111111

?

127

01111111

DEL

The primary issue while using ASCII was that it could only support 256 characters. This war was because ASCII only kept 8 bits at that time. Hence, a system that could use more bits and encode more characters was needed.

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What is UNICODE?

UNICODE stands for Universal Character Set. A non-profit organization was developed called UNICODE Consortium. UNICODE can represent much more characters and symbols than the previous 8-bit ASCII. Today UNICODE is the most popular encoding scheme for encoding many characters in multiple languages.

what is unicode?

UNICODE has multiple UTF (UNICODE Transformation Format) encoding schemes in use. These schemes are differentiated based on the number of bits they use to encode characters. The Unicode Encoding schemes include the UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-16, and UTF-32. These schemes use 7, 8, 16, and 32 bits for encoding characters.

Difference between UNICODE and ASCII

Now that we know about both UNICODE and ASCII encoding schemes in detail, we will look at some key differences in a tabular format.

UNICODE

ASCII

UNICODE stands for Universal Character Set. ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
UNICODE supports more than a million characters. ASCII only supports 128 characters.
UNICODE is comparatively new. ASCII is older than UNICODE.
UNICODE has variable length encoding (7, 8, 16, and 32 bits). ASCII has fixed-length encoding (8-bit only).
UNICODE characters require more memory. ASCII characters acquire comparatively less memory.
UNICODE is standardized to be used in encoding in computers. ASCII is used for electronic devices and programming languages like HTML.

Also see, Difference Between Structure and Union

Advantages of Using UNICODE over ASCII

UNICODE and ASCII are  both very useful character encoding standards. But UNICODE is a more versatile and bigger character system than ASCII. Below are some of the advantages of using UNICODE over ASCII.

  • Bigger Character Set Size
     
  • Multiple Language Support
     
  • Supports Emojis and Symbols
     
  • Industry-wide standard for character encoding
     
  • Supports Complex Mathematical Symbols
     
  • Compatibility with old systems having ASCII
     

All of these above advantages make UNICODE a better choice over ASCII in todays programming scenario.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we handle emojis and pictographs with the help of UNICODE characters?

UNICODE reserves some code points, especially for emojis and pictographs. This allows consistent representation of these visual elements across all the platforms. This makes the UNICODE character's platform independent.

How do Unicode characters affect the performance of the program?

The program requires more memory and computational power to process large UNICODE datasets. This can cause some performance issues. But these issues can be removed by hardware optimization techniques.

Is UNICODE a platform-dependent encoding technique?

UNICODE is not a platform-dependent encoding technique. UNICODE ensures consistent representation of characters across all operating systems and devices. This allows constant data exchange for the users.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the difference between UNICODE and ASCII. We discussed UNICODE and ASCII separately. We also discussed their critical differences in a tabular format. In the end, we concluded by discussing some frequently asked questions.

Now that you know the difference between UNICODE and ASCII, you can refer to similar articles.
 

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