[Python-Dev] Comparison inconsistency with ExtensionClass

Jim Fulton jim@digicool.com
Thu, 06 Jul 2000 10:25:10 -0400

Greg Ward wrote:
> Hi all --
> I seem to have discovered an inconsistency in the semantics of object
> comparison between plain old Python instances and ExtensionClass
> instances.  (I've cc'd python-dev because it looks as though one *could*
> blame Python for the inconsistency, but I don't really understand the
> guts of either Python or ExtensionClass enough to know.)

(demonstration snipped)

> The first one and the last two are obvious, but the second one only
> works thanks to a trick in PyObject_Compare():
>     if (PyInstance_Check(v) || PyInstance_Check(w)) {
>         ...
>         if (!PyInstance_Check(v))
>             return -PyObject_Compare(w, v);
>         ...
>     }
> However, if I make Simple an ExtensionClass:
>     from ExtensionClass import Base
>     class Simple (Base):
> Then the "swap v and w and use w's comparison method" no longer works.
> Here's the output of the script with Simple as an ExtensionClass:
>     v1 == v2? no
>     v2 == v1? Simple.__cmp__: self=<Simple at 1b51c0: 36>, other=36
>     yes
>     v1 == v2.data? yes
>     v2.data == v1? yes
> It looks as though ExtensionClass would have to duplicate the trick in
> PyObject_Compare() that I quoted, since Python has no idea that
> ExtensionClass instances really should act like instances.  This smells
> to me like a bug in ExtensionClass.  Comments?

Technically, this *is* a bug in ExtensionClass, however, Python
*does* deserve some of the blame. The intepreter actually uses the
following rule:

  Instances of two different "python types" are not compared
  using type-supplied comparison methods unless:

  - At least one of the types is InstanceType or

  - Both of the types are numeric.

This rule is rather inconvenient for ExtensionClass.
It's also pretty inconvenient for non-ExtensionClass
non-numeric extension types that want to be comparable with 
other things.

You can work around this by making your ExtensionClass a numeric
type. This should be possible by providing a numeric method.


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