Do I need "self" and "other"?

Robert Kern robert.kern at
Sat Jun 28 02:10:56 CEST 2008

Terry Reedy wrote:
> Kurda Yon wrote:
>> OK, I see. In the given example "self" is just a name which can be
>> replace by whichever (valid) name. Is that always like that? I mean,
>> does "slef" have a special meaning in some cases or it is always "just
>> a name like any other"?
> Yes.
> A method is a function bound to a class or instance thereof.
> Def statements create functions.  Parameter names are arbitrary, as long 
> as they do not conflict with any global names you want to access from 
> within the function.
> Self (and other) are simply community conventions.  They do have they 
> advantage that if they are only used as function/method parameter names, 
> then they will not conflict with any module globals.

It's worth noting that 'self' for the first parameter of a method is an 
extremely strong convention. I highly encourage you to follow it. In particular, 
classmethods and staticmethods don't take an instance of the class as the first 
argument, so using 'self' for instance methods, 'cls' for classmethods, and 
nothing in particular for staticmethods (since the first argument isn't special 
at all), helps distinguish them when reading. You risk annoying your reader by 
using something other than 'self' in an instance method.

By contrast, using 'other' for the other argument to a binary __mathoperation__ 
method is not a particularly strong convention. No one will be annoyed if you 
use something else.

Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
  that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
  an underlying truth."
   -- Umberto Eco

More information about the Python-list mailing list