Programming Tutorials

Callable objects in python

By: Python Team in Python Tutorials on 2012-04-07  

You can make a higher order function in Python using two choices: you can use nested scopes or you can use callable objects. For example, suppose you wanted to define linear(a,b) which returns a function f(x) that computes the value a*x+b. Using nested scopes:

def linear(a, b):
    def result(x):
        return a * x + b
    return result

Or using a callable object:

class linear:
    def __init__(self, a, b):
        self.a, self.b = a, b
    def __call__(self, x):
        return self.a * x + self.b

In both cases,

taxes = linear(0.3, 2)

gives a callable object where taxes(10e6) == 0.3 * 10e6 + 2.

The callable object approach has the disadvantage that it is a bit slower and results in slightly longer code. However, note that a collection of callables can share their signature via inheritance:

class exponential(linear):
    # __init__ inherited
    def __call__(self, x):
        return self.a * (x ** self.b)
Object can encapsulate state for several methods:

class counter:
    value = 0
    def set(self, x):
        self.value = x
    def up(self):
        self.value = self.value + 1
    def down(self):
        self.value = self.value - 1
count = counter()
inc, dec, reset = count.up, count.down, count.set

Here inc(), dec() and reset() act like functions which share the same counting variable.

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