The Unicode Standard
For the first couple decades of computing the user interfaces for most operating systems and
applications required knowledge of the English language. ASCII, the American Standard
Code for Information Interchange, became the first widely used standard for encoding
textual information. At that time other languages than English were usually not
supported by common software, and the use of writing systems other than the basic Latin
alphabet was completely unthinkable.
Today, people all over the world use computers and, naturally, they expect user
interfaces that use their own native language and script.
Unicode is a standard for the encoding of textual information in any major writing
system. This includes alphabetic writing systems such as Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew
and Arabic, as well as ideographic writing systems like Han or Hangul/Jamo.
In addition to defining the necessary 16-bit code mappings, Unicode also specifies
a number of algorithms that are important for internationalized text processing.
Examples for such algorithms are canonical ordering, character combining behaviour and
The International(ization and) Unicode Conference
Around 1997 I had probably my most "active" time concerning Unicode. I wrote several
papers that were published in the proceedings of the
The MATHEMA FontManager
Most of this research is now more than 5 years old and therefore hopelessly out of date.
Probably the main result of my work with Unicode was the MATHEMA FontManager (MFM),
a Unicode font rendering system for Java. It was originally developed for JDK 1.0.2, which
only internally supported 16-bit Unicode characters but, besides that, had almost no
capabilities for actually displaying Unicode documents and did not support any of the
basic algorithms stipulated by the Unicode Standard (version 2.0 at that time).
For a short time, the MATHEMA FontManager was way ahead of the game, but
eventually the Unicode support in the JDK caught up and MFM became obsolete.
Exclusively for personal reference and noncommercial use, the MATHEMA
FontManager is available for download here. It is intellectual property
of MATHEMA Software GmbH and may not be redistributed
without prior consent of MATHEMA. It comes with absolutely no warranties and MATHEMA
provides no support whatsoever.
Besides being an interesting piece of Unicode history, the MATHEMA FontManager is
probably of very little practical use in current Java environments.
The MFM is known to run with JDK 1.0.2 and 1.1.x and was also reported to run with some
early versions of JDK 1.2. However, it has never been tested with JDK 1.3 or newer
(which does not mean that it wouldn't run, though; see for yourself).