[Python-Dev] Return type of datetime subclasses added to timedelta

Andrew Svetlov andrew.svetlov at gmail.com
Sun Jan 6 13:29:55 EST 2019

>From my perspective datetime classes are even more complex than int/float.
Let's assume we have

class DT(datetime.datetime): ...
class TD(datetime.timedelta): ...

What is the result type for the following expressions?
DT - datetime
DT + timedelta

I have a feeling that the question has no generic answer.
For *particular* implementation you can override all __add__, __sub__
and other arithmetic operations, and you can do it right now with the
current datetime module implementation.

I think inheritance from datetime classes is a very rare thing, 99.99% of
users don't need it.

On Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 6:03 PM Paul Ganssle <paul at ganssle.io> wrote:

> I can think of many reasons why datetime is different from builtins,
> though to be honest I'm not sure that consistency for its own sake is
> really a strong argument for keeping a counter-intuitive behavior - and to
> be honest I'm open to the idea that *all* arithmetic types *should* have
> some form of this change.
> That said, I would say that the biggest difference between datetime and
> builtins (other than the fact that datetime is *not* a builtin, and as
> such doesn't necessarily need to be categorized in this group), is that
> unlike almost all other arithmetic types, *datetime* has a special,
> dedicated type for describing differences in datetimes. Using your example
> of a float subclass, consider that without the behavior of "addition of
> floats returns floats", it would be hard to predict what would happen in
> this situation:
> >>> F(1.2) + 3.4
> Would that always return a float, even though F(1.2) + F(3.4) returns an
> F? Would that return an F because F is the left-hand operand? Would it
> return a float because float is the right-hand operand? Would you walk the
> MROs and find the lowest type in common between the operands and return
> that? It's not entirely clear which subtype predominates. With datetime,
> you have:
> datetime - datetime -> timedelta
> datetime ± timedelta -> datetime
> timedelta ± timedelta -> timedelta
> There's no operation between two datetime objects that would return a
> datetime object, so it's always clear: operations between datetime
> subclasses return timedelta, operations between a datetime object and a
> timedelta return the subclass of the datetime that it was added to or
> subtracted from.
> Of course, the real way to resolve whether datetime should be different
> from int/float/string/etc is to look at why this choice was actually made
> for those types in the first place, and decide whether datetime is like
> them *in this respect*. The heterogeneous operations problem may be a
> reasonable justification for leaving the other builtins alone but changing
> datetime, but if someone knows of other fundamental reasons why the
> decision to have arithmetic operations always create the base class was
> chosen, please let me know.
> Best,
> Paul
> On 1/5/19 3:55 AM, Alexander Belopolsky wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 2, 2019 at 10:18 PM Paul Ganssle <paul at ganssle.io> wrote:
>> .. the original objection was that this implementation assumes that the
>> datetime subclass has a constructor with the same (or a sufficiently
>> similar) signature as datetime.
> While this was used as a possible rationale for the way standard types
> behave, the main objection to changing datetime classes is that it will
> make them behave differently from builtins.  For example:
> >>> class F(float):
> ...     pass
> ...
> >>> type(F.fromhex('AA'))
> <class '__main__.F'>
> >>> type(F(1) + F(2))
> <class 'float'>
> This may be a legitimate gripe, but unfortunately that ship has sailed
>> long ago. All of datetime's alternate constructors make this assumption.
>> Any subclass that does not meet this requirement must have worked around it
>> long ago (or they don't care about alternate constructors).
> This is right, but the same argument is equally applicable to int, float,
> etc. subclasses.  If you want to limit your change to datetime types you
> should explain what makes these types special.
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Andrew Svetlov
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