What is Python super() Function?

Python super() is a function that allows you to call methods and access attributes from a parent or superclass within a subclass. It’s like having a secret door that leads you to the parent’s treasure chest of methods and attributes, all while maintaining the context of the subclass.

Picture this: you’re working on a Python project with classes and inheritance. You want to access a method or attribute from a parent class within a subclass. This is where the super() function comes to the rescue.

Now with a foundational grasp of the Python super() function, let’s progress and explore its syntax and parameters. Understanding these aspects holds significant importance when it comes to applying this function in practical scenarios. So, let’s delve into these aspects to facilitate practical comprehension through examples.

Python super() Syntax and Parameters

The syntax of the super() function is pleasantly uncomplicated. Let’s examine this more closely:


Here, method_name is the name of the method you want to call from the base class, and arguments are the arguments that the method expects, if any. super() is used without any arguments to refer to the parent class in which the method should be searched for, based on the Method Resolution Order (MRO).

Now that you have a good grasp of the syntax and parameters of Python super(), let’s examine its return values to gain insight into how this function operates in real-world examples.

Python super() Return Value

Python super() returns a temporary object representing the superclass, enabling the calling of parent class methods within a subclass. By invoking super() within a subclass, you can retrieve and utilize methods defined in the parent class while preserving the Method Resolution Order (MRO) to ensure the appropriate superclass method is called.

Furthermore, super() maintains the context of the current instance, eliminating the need to explicitly pass self and allowing for seamless integration of parent class functionality with child class-specific code, promoting modular and organized code design. For example:

Example Code
class Parent: def greet(self): return "Hello from Parent!" class Child(Parent): def greet(self): parent_greeting = super().greet() return f"{parent_greeting} And Hello from Child!" child_obj = Child() result = child_obj.greet() print(result)

For this example, we have two classes, Parent and Child, with a clear illustration of inheritance and method overriding. The Parent class defines a simple greet() method that returns the greeting Hello from Parent! When we create the Child class, it inherits from the Parent class, inheriting the greet() method.

However, the Child class also overrides the greet() method with its own version. Within the Child class, we use super().greet() to call the greet() method from the parent class, efficiently extending it.

This allows us to retrieve the parent’s greeting and concatenate it with And Hello from Child! When we create an instance of the Child class using child_obj = Child(), and then call child_obj.greet(), the greet() method from the Child class is executed. It invokes the parent class’s greet() method using super(), combines the two greetings, and finally prints the result.

Hello from Parent! And Hello from Child!

As you can observe, this above example illustrates how super() enables you to access and build upon parent class methods within the context of a subclass, promoting code reusability.

As previously stated, Python super() function serves multiple purposes and is utilized for various tasks. Now, let’s continue and explore real-world examples to better grasp how the Python super() can be employed, providing a more comprehensive insight into its practical applications

I. Python super() for Accessing Parent Class Methods

Python super() function, when used to entryway parent class methods, enables you to invoke functions that were initially specified in the parent class while operating within the context of a subclass. This proves particularly valuable when you need to expand upon the functionality of these class methods, all while preserving the core behavior defined in the parent class. Let’s look at a practical example:

Example Code
class Parent: def add(self, a, b): return a + b class Child(Parent): def add(self, a, b, c): parent_result = super().add(a, b) return parent_result + c child_obj = Child() result = child_obj.add(2, 3, 4) print("The result is: ",result)

Here, we have two classes, Parent and Child. The Parent class defines an add() method that takes two integer values and returns their sum. The Child class inherits from Parent and also has an add() method, but it takes three integer values and extends the functionality by first calling the add() method from the parent class using super().add(a, b) and then adding the third integer value.

When you create an instance of the Child class and call its add() method with values 2, 3, and 4, it will first call the parent class’s add() method to calculate 2 + 3, and then add 4 to the result. The output will be:

The result is: 9

This example illustrates that you can easily use the super() function to enhance the capabilities of methods from the super class when dealing with integer values.

II. Understanding super().__init__ in Python

Understanding super().__init__ in Python involves grasping the concept of how to call the constructor (__init__ method) of a parent class in a subclass. When you use super().__init__ in a subclass’s __init__ method, you efficiently invoke the constructor of the parent class.

This enables you to perform any necessary setup or initialization specific to the subclass while also benefiting from the initialization logic defined in the parent class. Consider the below illustration:

Example Code
class FirstClass: def __init__(self, x): self.x = x class SecondClass(FirstClass): def __init__(self, x, y): super().__init__(x) self.y = y first_obj = FirstClass(5.5) print(f"Object's x: {first_obj.x}") second_obj = SecondClass(3.3, 4.4) print(f"Object's x: {second_obj.x}") print(f"Object's y: {second_obj.y}")

In this example, we have two classes, FirstClass and SecondClass, and we’re using them to create objects. FirstClass has a constructor that takes a single parameter x and assigns it to an attribute also named x. Then, we have SecondClass, which inherits from FirstClass. The constructor in SecondClass takes two parameters, x and y. Inside this constructor, we use super().init(x) to call the constructor of FirstClass, ensuring that the x attribute is properly initialized in the parent class. After that, we set the y attribute for SecondClass.

We create an instance of FirstClass called first_obj with a value of 5.5 for x. When we print first_obj.x, it correctly displays the value of x, which is 5.5. Next, we create an instance of SecondClass called second_obj with values 3.3 for x and 4.4 for y. Even though SecondClass has its own constructor, it still invokes the FirstClass constructor using super().init(x) to ensure proper initialization of the x attribute.

Object’s x: 5.5
Object’s x: 3.3
Object’s y: 4.4

This above approach showcases how you can customize the initialization process in a subclass while leveraging the functionality of the parent class’s constructor.

III. Inheritance in Python Without super()

You can also implement inheritance without using super() by simply creating a derived  class that inherits from a main class. But it doesn’t provide an automatic way to access and utilize the methods of the parent class from within the subclass.

Instead, you have the flexibility to override the inherited methods in the class with custom implementations. While this allows for complete customization of behavior in the subclass, it also means that you must reimplement any desired functionality from the parent class on your own. For example:

Example Code
class Point: def __init__(self, x, y): self.x = x self.y = y def display(self): print(f"Point: ({self.x}, {self.y})") class Triangle(Point): def __init__(self, x1, y1, x2, y2, x3, y3): self.point1 = Point(x1, y1) self.point2 = Point(x2, y2) self.point3 = Point(x3, y3) def display_triangle(self): print("Triangle Coordinates:") self.point1.display() self.point2.display() self.point3.display() point = Point(1, 2) print("Single Point:") point.display() triangle = Triangle(0, 0, 3, 0, 0, 4) print("\nTriangle:") triangle.display_triangle()

For this example, we have two classes: Point and Triangle. The Point class represents a point in two-dimensional space, defined by its x and y coordinates. It has a constructor to initialize these coordinates and a display() method to print the point’s coordinates.

The Triangle class inherits from Point, but it does not use super(). Instead, it introduces a custom constructor that takes six coordinates (x1, y1, x2, y2, x3, y3) for the three vertices of a triangle. Inside the constructor, it creates three Point objects to represent the triangle’s vertices.

The Triangle class also has a display_triangle() method that displays the coordinates of the triangle’s vertices. We create an instance of both classes and showcase their functionality. The Point class handles individual points, while the Triangle class represents a triangle composed of three points.

Single Point:
Point: (1, 2)

Triangle Coordinates:
Point: (0, 0)
Point: (3, 0)
Point: (0, 4)

As you can observe in this example, it illustrates inheritance in Python without relying on the use of super(). It offers practical instances of custom constructors and methods within the subclasses, all centered around the concept of a triangle’s coordinates.

Python super() Advanced Examples

In the following section, we will examine several advanced examples of Python super() function, highlighting its flexibility and wide range of applications.

I. Python super() with Multiple Inheritance

Python super() function, when used with multiple inheritance, allows you, to call methods from main classes within a derived class that inherits from multiple sources. You can depend on the Method Resolution Order (MRO), evaluated by Python's C3 linearization algorithm, to systematically resolve method calls, ensuring that the correct parent class methods are executed.

Nevertheless, managing complex class hierarchies in multiple inheritance scenarios requires your clear understanding of the MRO to avoid potential conflicts and ambiguities, making proper design and adherence to inheritance principles crucial for your use of super() with multiple inheritance. Here’s an example with multiple inheritance:

Example Code
class ListOperations: def __init__(self): self.data = [] def add_element(self, element): self.data.append(element) def display_list(self): print("List Contents:", self.data) class StringOperations: def __init__(self): self.text = "" def add_text(self, text): self.text += text def display_text(self): print("Text:", self.text) class ListWithStringOperations(ListOperations, StringOperations): def __init__(self): # Call constructors of both parent classes using super() super().__init__() StringOperations.__init__(self) def display_combined_data(self): self.display_list() self.display_text() # Create an instance of ListWithStringOperations combined_obj = ListWithStringOperations() # Add elements to the list and text to the string combined_obj.add_element(1) combined_obj.add_element(2) combined_obj.add_element(2.667) combined_obj.add_element(2+7j) combined_obj.add_text("Hello, Python Helper") combined_obj.display_combined_data()

Here, First, we have the ListOperations class, which allows us to perform operations on lists. It has a constructor that initializes an empty list called data. We can add elements to this list using the add_element method, and we can display the contents of the list using the display_list method.

Next, we’ve defined the StringOperations class, which deals with string operations. It has a constructor that initializes an empty string called text. We can add text to this string using the add_text method, and we can display the text using the display_text method.

Now, here comes the interesting part: the ListWithStringOperations class. This class inherits from both ListOperations and StringOperations. We have used super() to call the constructors of both parent classes within the ListWithStringOperations constructor. This ensures that we have access to both the data list and the text string. We’ve also defined a method called display_combined_data in this class, which allows us to display both the list contents and the text combined.

Finally, we’ve created an instance of the ListWithStringOperations class, named combined_obj. We have added various elements to the list using the add_element method and added a string of text using the add_text method. Then, by calling combined_obj.display_combined_data(), we display both the list contents and the text, showing how we can work with lists and strings together in a single class.

List Contents: [1, 2, 2.667, (2+7j)]
Text: Hello, Python Helper

By employing this fantastic method, you can easily utilize the super() function in scenarios involving multiple inheritance, enabling more advanced programming capabilities.

II. Python super() with Multi-Level Inheritance

The super() function, in the context of multi-level inheritance, allows you to summon methods from base classes within a derived class. This capability remains intact even when you have a series of super classes and child classes, ensuring that methods are executed in an organized and predictable order, starting with the closest parent class and proceeding up the inheritance hierarchy. For instance:

Example Code
class FibonacciGenerator: def __init__(self): self.sequence = () def generate_fibonacci(self, n): if n <= 0: return a, b = 0, 1 fib_sequence = [a] while len(fib_sequence) < n: a, b = b, a + b fib_sequence.append(a) self.sequence = tuple(fib_sequence) def display_sequence(self): print("Fibonacci Sequence:", self.sequence) class EvenFibonacciGenerator(FibonacciGenerator): def __init__(self): super().__init__() def generate_fibonacci(self, n): super().generate_fibonacci(n) even_sequence = tuple(filter(lambda x: x % 2 == 0, self.sequence)) self.sequence = even_sequence class MultiLevelFibonacci(EvenFibonacciGenerator): def __init__(self): super().__init__() multi_level_fib = MultiLevelFibonacci() multi_level_fib.generate_fibonacci(10) multi_level_fib.display_sequence()

In this example, We’ve established three classes: FibonacciGenerator, EvenFibonacciGenerator, and MultiLevelFibonacci. Each class contributes to the overall functionality of generating and displaying the Fibonacci sequence in a customized manner.

The FibonacciGenerator class serves as the foundation, equipped with an initializer that sets an empty tuple named sequence. The generate_fibonacci method within this class calculates the Fibonacci sequence up to a specified value n and stores it as a tuple in sequence. The display_sequence method is responsible for presenting the generated Fibonacci sequence.

Building upon this foundation, the EvenFibonacciGenerator class is derived from FibonacciGenerator through the use of super(). It inherits the ability to generate a Fibonacci sequence but introduces a customization by filtering out even numbers from the sequence. The filtered even sequence is then stored in sequence. Finally, the MultiLevelFibonacci class extends the customization of the Fibonacci sequence by inheriting from EvenFibonacciGenerator. Once again, super() is employed to initialize this class.

Towards the end of our collaborative effort, we create an instance of MultiLevelFibonacci named multi_level_fib. We use its generate_fibonacci method to generate an even Fibonacci sequence up to a value of 10. Subsequently, we employ the display_sequence method to display the customized Fibonacci sequence.

Fibonacci Sequence: (0, 2, 8, 34)

This code illustrates how multi-level inheritance, combined with the use of super(), can be applied to manipulate and display complex sequences like the Fibonacci sequence with specific criteria, such as even numbers.

III. Super() and Method Resolution Order (MRO)

Python super() and the Method Resolution Order (MRO) work hand in hand to manage method inheritance and execution in your classes. Where super() enables you to summon methods. And on the other hand the MRO defines the order in which Python searches for and decides which method to execute when you call it.

It ensures predictability and consistency by following the class hierarchy and inheritance order. So, when you use super() in a subclass, Python consults the MRO to evaluate which parent class’s method to invoke, starting from the immediate base and proceeding according to the defined order. This collaboration simplifies method inheritance and customization in complex class structures. For instance:

Example Code
class A: def greet(self): return "Hello from A" class B(A): def greet(self): parent_greeting = super().greet() return f"{parent_greeting} and Hello from B" class C(A): def greet(self): parent_greeting = super().greet() return f"{parent_greeting} and Hello from C" class D(B, C): def greet(self): parent_greeting = super().greet() return f"{parent_greeting} from D" d_instance = D() result = d_instance.greet() print(result)

For this example, we’ve collectively created a Python program that showcases the use of the super() function and the Method Resolution Order (MRO) in a class hierarchy. Our program consists of four classes: A, B, C, and D. Firstly, Class A serves as our base class and defines a method called greet(), which returns a simple greeting message, Hello from A.

Next, we have Classes B and C, both of which inherit from Class A. They override the greet() method to append their own greetings while using super() to call the greet() method from Class A. So, Class B greet() method adds Hello from B to the greeting, and Class C greet() method adds Hello from C.

Now, Class D represents multiple inheritance by inheriting from both Class B and Class C. It, too, overrides the greet() method. When Class D uses super(), Python follows the Method Resolution Order (MRO) to evaluate the method to call. In this case, it follows the order B -> C -> A, which means it calls Class B’s greet() method. So, Class D adds from D to the greeting, creating the final message, Hello from A and Hello from B from D. We create an instance of Class D, invoke its greet() method, and store the result. Finally, we print the result.

Hello from A and Hello from C and Hello from B from D

As you observe this code, you can see how the super() function and the Method Resolution Order (MRO) efficiently manage method invocation in a class hierarchy

IV. Exception Handling with the super()

Exception handling with the super() function in Python serves the purpose of gracefully managing exceptions that might arise when summoning methods from base classes within a child classes. In object-oriented programming, it’s common for methods in base classes to be overridden or extended in derived classes, and exceptions can occur during their execution. By incorporating exception handling with super(), you gain the ability to catch and handle these exceptions in a controlled manner.

This approach allows you to customize error handling for specific situations, tailoring the way exceptions are dealt with to suit the requirements of your subclass. Consider below illustration:

Example Code
class Parent: def divide(self, a, b): try: result = a / b return result except ZeroDivisionError: return "Division by zero is not allowed." class Child(Parent): def divide(self, a, b): try: result = super().divide(a, b) return f"Result: {result}" except Exception as e: return f"An error occurred: {e}" child_obj = Child() result1 = child_obj.divide(10, 2) result2 = child_obj.divide(5, 0) print(result1) print(result2)

Here, Our example consists of two classes, Parent and Child. The Parent class defines a divide() method that performs division between two numbers, a and b. Inside the method, we’ve implemented a try-except block to catch potential exceptions. If a ZeroDivisionError occurs due to an attempt to divide by zero, the method returns a clear error message.

Building upon this foundation, we’ve created the Child class, which inherits from Parent. In the Child class, we’ve overridden the divide() method. Here, we use super().divide(a, b) to invoke the divide() method from the parent class. This allows us to leverage the division logic defined in the parent class while adding a layer of exception handling.

In practice, we’ve utilized the Child class to perform two division operations: 10 / 2 and 5 / 0. The first division is successful and returns the result, while the second division triggers a ZeroDivisionError. The exception handling mechanism within the Child class catches this error and returns an informative error message that includes details about the specific exception. Finally, we’ve created an instance of the Child class, invoked its divide() method with the two sets of values, and displayed the results.

Result: 5.0
Result: Division by zero is not allowed.

This example exemplifies how exception handling with super() is a valuable tool for managing errors when calling parent class methods within a subclass, allowing for more robust and informative error handling in complex class hierarchies.

Now that you’ve comprehensively grasped the Python super() function, its uses, and its convenience and flexibility across various scenarios, you’ve established a strong foundation. To enhance your understanding, let’s delve into specific theoretical ideas that can significantly aid you in your journey through Python programming.

Advantages of python super()

Here are the advantages of using the Python super() function

I. Maintains Code Reusability

By using super(), you can inherit and reuse methods and attributes from parent classes, reducing code duplication and promoting a cleaner codebase.

II. Simplifies Multiple Inheritance

In scenarios with multiple inheritance, super() helps in managing the method resolution order (MRO), ensuring that methods are called in a predictable and consistent manner.

III. Preserves Parent Functionality

When you override a method in a subclass, super() allows you to extend or customize its behavior while still invoking and preserving the functionality of the parent class’s method.

Practical Use Cases for the super()

Here are some practical ways you can use Python super() in your programming journey:

I. Constructor Initialization

Use super() to invoke the constructor of a parent class while extending the initialization logic in a subclass, ensuring that both parent and child class attributes are properly set.

II. Customization in Subclasses

Python super() is valuable when you need to customize the behavior of a parent class method in a subclass while retaining the core functionality defined in the parent class.

III. Framework Development

Frameworks and libraries often use super() to provide extensibility points where users can customize or extend functionality without modifying the core code.

Congratulations on completing your exploration of the Python super() function!  You’ve now unlocked an amazing tool that acts like a secret passage connecting your subclass to the treasure trove of methods and attributes in the parent class. It’s a handy way to maintain context while accessing and customizing functionality from higher up the inheritance hierarchy.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ve had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of the Python super() function. Your journey has been a rich exploration of its features and applications. You’ve witnessed how it seamlessly enables attribute access from base classes and plays a pivotal role in various types of inheritance scenarios, including multiple and multi-level inheritance. Moreover, you’ve discovered that even without super(), inheritance is possible, and you’ve gained insights into the significance of Method Resolution Order (MRO). Lastly, you’ve acquired valuable knowledge about handling exceptions within the super() function. Your Python expertise has undoubtedly been enriched through this enlightening experience.

So, as you observe the code and concepts you’ve encountered, remember that super() is more than just a tool; it’s a gateway to creating cleaner, more efficient, and more reusable Python code. Keep experimenting and applying super() in your Python projects, and you’ll continue to unlock its full potential. Happy coding!

Scroll to Top