[Python-Dev] Base-96

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Sat Aug 2 04:21:16 CEST 2008

Guido van Rossum wrote:
> This sounds more like something to bring up in
> python-ideas at python.org. Also, rather than being vague about the
> motivation ("would be very interesting", you ought to think of a
> realistic use case. For example, are there existing encodings of
> binary data using base-96? I'm not aware of any.
> On Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 4:06 PM, Kless <jonas.esp at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> I think that would be very interesting thay Python would have a module
>> for working on base 96 too. [1]
>> It could be converted to base 96 the digests from hashlib module, and
>> random bytes used on crypto (to create the salt, the IV, or a key).
>> As you can see here [2], the printable ASCII characters are 94
>> (decimal code range of 33-126). So only left to add another 2
>> characters more; the space (code 32), and one not-printable char
>> (which doesn't create any problem) by last.
>> [1] http://svn.python.org/view/python/trunk/Modules/binascii.c
>> [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_8859-1
96 is approximately 2^6.585

For some reason, integral powers of two seem so much more, well, 
POWERFUL, if you know what I mean. Frankly I think you are being either 
optimistic or charitable in suggesting that such a use case might exist.

There's a reason that DEC called their equivalent of base64 "6-bit 

But then I wanted to keep integer division as it was, so I am clearly a 
techno-luddite. If the world wants fractional bits I'm sure it's only a 
matter of time before some genius decides to design a 67.9-bit computer.

Steve Holden        +1 571 484 6266   +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC              http://www.holdenweb.com/

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