Chapter 15. Classes and Objects

At this point you know how to use functions to organize code and built-in types to organize data. The next step is to learn “object-oriented programming”, which uses programmer-defined types to organize both code and data. Object-oriented programming is a big topic; it will take a few chapters to get there.

Code examples from this chapter are available from; solutions to the exercises are available from

Programmer-Defined Types

We have used many of Python’s built-in types; now we are going to define a new type. As an example, we will create a type called Point that represents a point in two-dimensional space.

In mathematical notation, points are often written in parentheses with a comma separating the coordinates. For example, (0,0) represents the origin, and (x,y) represents the point x units to the right and y units up from the origin.

There are several ways we might represent points in Python:

  • We could store the coordinates separately in two variables, x and y.

  • We could store the coordinates as elements in a list or tuple.

  • We could create a new type to represent points as objects.

Creating a new type is more complicated than the other options, but it has advantages that will be apparent soon.

A programmer-defined type is also called a class. A class definition looks like this:

class Point:
    """Represents a point in 2-D space."""

The header indicates that the new class ...

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