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Python Language Reference Manual
by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr.
Paperback (6"x9"), 120 pages
ISBN 0954161785
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)

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3.4 Special method names

A class can implement certain operations that are invoked by special syntax (such as arithmetic operations or subscripting and slicing) by defining methods with special names. This is Python's approach to operator overloading, allowing classes to define their own behavior with respect to language operators. For instance, if a class defines a method named __getitem__(), and x is an instance of this class, then x[i] is equivalent(7) to x.__getitem__(i). Except where mentioned, attempts to execute an operation raise an exception when no appropriate method is defined.

When implementing a class that emulates any built-in type, it is important that the emulation only be implemented to the degree that it makes sense for the object being modelled. For example, some sequences may work well with retrieval of individual elements, but extracting a slice may not make sense. (One example of this is the NodeList interface in the W3C's Document Object Model.)

ISBN 0954161785Python Language Reference ManualSee the print edition