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As defined by RFC 3492, Punycode is a simple and efficient transfer encoding syntax designed for use with Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA). It uniquely and reversibly transforms a Unicode string into an ASCII string. ASCII characters in the Unicode string are represented literally, and nonSCII characters are represented by ASCII characters that are allowed in host name labels (letters, digits, and hyphens). The RFC 3492 document defines a general algorithm called Bootstring that allows a string of basic code points to uniquely represent any string of code points drawn from a larger set. Punycode is an instance of Bootstring that uses particular parameter values specified by this document, appropriate for IDNA.

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