Controlling assignation

Terry Reedy tjreedy at
Mon Jun 13 19:23:05 CEST 2005

"harold fellermann" <harold.fellermann at> wrote in message 
news:73cd19a37027b3d16c44d04ea560ee32 at

>if you write
>   >>> a=A()
>an instance of class A is created and bound to the local identifier 'a'.

I think it perhaps better to think of the label 'a' being bound to the 
object rather than vice versa.   For one, a label can only be bound (stuck 
to, like a stick note) to one object at a time while one object can have 
many labels (and other references) stuck to it.

> If you later write
> >>> a=5
> the object 5 is reassigned to the same identifier,

Or one could say that the label 'a' is removed from the A() object and 
reassigned to the 5 object.  Since the 5 object may have numerous other 
connections, and since those connections are unaffected by the new 
connection to 'a', whereas the previous assignment of 'a' is broken, I 
think it better to say that 'a' is being reassigned, not 5.

> deleting whatever value was stored there before.

In memory-oriented languages, such as C, names refer to chunks of memory 
where values are stored and deleted.  Assigning a new value to a variable 
puts a new value in that chunk of memory, necessarily overwriting the old.

In object-oriented Python, objects have values and possibly multiple 
associations with names and slots.  If, but only if, 'a' was the last 
association of its last assigned-to object, then that object is eligible 
for deletion.

> In other words: identifiers don't have types.

This and the following I agree with.

Terry J. Reedy

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