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Python

Andrew Leibowitz
Andrew Leibowitz
2,508 Points

Why do you need the self attribute in the __init__ function?

This was the code

class Car:
  wheels = 4
  doors = 2
  engine = True

  def __init__(self, make, model, year):
    self.make = make
    self.model = model
    self.year = year

1 Answer

Chris Freeman
MOD
Chris Freeman
Treehouse Moderator 67,464 Points

Hey Andrew Leibowitz, that’s a great question.

With multiple instances of a class, one might think there would a copy of an class method for each instance created. While certainly possible, this could greatly increase the memory requirements of a program. Instead, each method is constructed in a more generic fashion where a parameter is used to hold the instance reference. If the code within the method needs to refer to attributes of the instance, the instance reference parameter is used to indicate which instance the method code refers to.

The first parameter of a class method (a function defined inside of a class) is a placeholder for this instance reference. During code execution, the first parameter is automatically set to the instance reference. The context of your program indicates which instance reference should be used.

This first parameter can be named anything. It is only a convenient that Python programmers use self to refer to the instance reference parameter.

You may hear the the term bound used to refer to a class method. This means there is a method parameter (self) being use to “bind” the method to a specific instance. A generic function that you’ve learned abound in Basic Python, is unbound, that is, not associated with a class instance and does not have the instance reference placeholder.

The is more information about class structure in the docs.

When you get to the topic of class methods, they will also need a placeholder for the class reference. In this situation the convention is to use cls as the parameter name. This method is bound to the enclosing class.

Post back if you need more help. Good luck!!!

Andrew Leibowitz
Andrew Leibowitz
2,508 Points

Thanks that makes more sense now!!