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In previous lessons, you learnt Inheritance, and Encapsulation.

In this lesson, you will learn about,

the third pillar of Object Oriented Programming, Polymorphism.


What is Polymorphism ?

Well Polymorphism means, object in many forms.

In other words the object’s ability to assume various forms.

In Python, Polymorphism is having, same interface(i.e method)

between two classes.

It’s that simple.

In Python, Polymorphism is achieved through,

method overriding and duck typing.


Virtual functions

By nature methods in Python are virtual,

that is, you can override methods.


What is overriding ?

A method in a parent class, is having different

definition in child class.

It’s just enough, to have same method name

in both Parent and Child classes.

Overriding is one type Polymorphism.

class Parent(object):
    def a_method(self):
        print("I'm a parent method")
    def another_method(self):
        print("I'm parent another method")
class Child(Parent):
    def a_method(self):
        print("I'm a child method")
# Creating a Parent object
p1 = Parent()




I'm a parent method

I'm parent another method

#creating a Child object

c1 = Child()




I'm a child method

I'm parent another method

Notice in above example, we have overridden a_method(), in Child() class.

And another_method() is inherited from Parent without modification.


What is ducktyping ?

Duck typing is reading attributes of objects,

without actually bothering about the type of the object.

In the above example we have common method a_method()

Which can be accessed without checking type object.

For example in our code, we want to access the a_method()

of Parent and Child class objects.

Let’s say we have four objects like below.

and we will call common method a_method() without

worrying about its class or type.

# creating Parent objects

p1 = Parent()  

p2 = Parent()  

# creating child objects

c1 = Child() 

c2 = Child() 

# accessing a_method()

objs = (p1,c1,p2,c2)

for obj in objs:



I'm a parent method

I'm a child method

I'm a parent method

I'm a child method

Lets look at another example where un related

classes implement same interface.

class Bird(object):
    def fly(self):
        print("Bird is flying")
class Airplane(object):
    def fly(self):
        print("Airplane is flying")
class Kite(object):
    def fly(self):
        print("Kite is flying")
b1 = Bird()

a1 = Airplane()

c1 = Kite()

flying_object = (a1,b1,c1)

for obj in flying_object:


Airplane is flying

Bird is flying

Kite is flying


Now flying_object is collection of different objects, here we are

accessing obj property fly() without checking whether

type of the object. It’s believed, that all the three classes

Bird, Airplane, and Kite respect interface contract, that is

to implement fly() method.


More about duck typing


Duck typing is named after The duck test attributed to

James William Riley, The American poet.


“When I see a bird that walks like a duck and

swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call

that bird a duck”

– James William Riley

If two related classes implement common interface(method),

then interface can be accessed without checking the object type.

As longs as the classes respects the contract interface,

If we have to check type of the object before

dealing with object, it is un Pythonic.


Polymorphism in Built in types

You will seen Polymorphism every where in Python.

In Python there are many built in functions

which demonstrate Polymorphism.

len() – irrespective of type it returns, the number of objects in collection

internally its __len__(self,object):


len("i'm a string")


len({'one':1, 'two':2}) etc...

Here each String, List, Dict classes have,

common __len__() method. That’s is respecting

the interface contract.

You can verify this, using dir() on object.

dir("i'm a string") 


dir({'one':1, 'two':2}) 

you will see the __len__() is common method,

implemented in all three.


Like wise you have add() method for string and lists.




add() is method invoked when you use ‘+’ plus operator on objects.


"this " + "that"


[1,2,3] + [4,5,6]

Another popular operator ‘in’ is also

implemented as method __contains__()

in strings, lists, tuple, dict,sets etc…