Mastering super(): A Detailed Guide to Python’s Built-in Function


Python is a versatile programming language that is used widely in various fields such as machine learning, web development, and data analysis. One of the key features of Python is its ability to implement object-oriented programming (OOP) concepts like classes and inheritance. Inheritance is a powerful concept in OOP that allows us to create new classes based on existing ones, thereby saving time and effort in coding.

The super() function is a built-in method that plays a crucial role in implementing inheritance in Python. In simple terms, super() allows us to access methods defined in a parent class from within the child class.

This feature offers many advantages over other methods of accessing parent class methods, such as calling them directly or using the parent class name. This guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of how super() works and how it can be used effectively to implement inheritance in Python.

It covers everything from basic usage of super() for calling parent class methods to advanced techniques like method resolution order (MRO), along with examples demonstrating each concept. By the end of this guide, you will have a solid grasp on how to use super() confidently and efficiently in your code.

Why Super() Matters

The primary reason why super() matters so much is because it allows us to reuse code effectively while avoiding repetition across multiple classes. Without this capability, we would have no choice but to copy-paste code from one class into another every time we needed similar functionality. Super() also gives us more flexibility when it comes to modifying existing code without affecting other parts of our program.

For example, suppose we have several classes that inherit from a common base class but require slightly different behavior for some inherited methods. Instead of copying all the code for each subclass separately and making changes, we can create a new subclass and modify only the necessary methods.

Super() helps to promote code readability and maintainability by providing a clean and concise syntax for accessing parent class methods. This makes it easier for others to understand our code and reduces the likelihood of introducing errors caused by typos or other mistakes.

What This Guide Will Cover

This guide will begin with an overview of inheritance in Python and explain how it works. Then, we will dive into the details of what super() is, how it works, and why it matters.

After that, we will explore how to use super() effectively for calling parent class methods in different scenarios. We will cover basic usage as well as advanced techniques like multiple inheritance and method resolution order (MRO).

We will discuss common mistakes people make when working with super(), such as calling the function incorrectly or failing to consider MRO when using multiple inheritance. We will provide tips on how to avoid these pitfalls so you can master super() without any hiccups.

In short, this guide covers everything you need to know about mastering Python’s built-in function – super(). So sit tight, grab your favorite drink and let’s get started!

Understanding Inheritance in Python

Python is an object-oriented programming language that supports the concept of inheritance. Inheritance is a powerful feature in object-oriented programming, which allows us to create a new class by extending the properties of an existing class. The existing class is called the parent or base class, and the new class that is created is called the child or derived class.

In Python, we can define a parent class using the `class` keyword and then define a child class that inherits all the attributes and methods of the parent class. To inherit from a parent class in Python, we simply specify the name of the parent class inside parentheses after our child classes’ name.

Explanation of Inheritance and how it works in Python

Inheritance works by allowing us to create new classes based on existing ones. This means that we can save time by reusing code instead of writing everything from scratch every time we want to create a new program or functionality within our program.

The process starts with defining our base (or parent) class which will contain common functionality that will be shared among all subclasses (or children). All subclasses inherit these functionalities from their parents.

Inheritance also allows us to add additional features or modify functionality without having to rewrite any existing code. So if there are some similar features between two different classes, we can put these into one single base (or super)class to simplify things.

Overview of Parent and Child Classes

Parent classes are also referred to as superclasses or base classes while child classes are referred to as derived classes or subclasses. A subclass inherits all attributes and methods defined in its superclass. For example, if we have an Animal superclass with `eat()` and `sleep()` methods defined within it, then any subclass such as Dog, Cat or Bird would inherit those same methods without having to redefine them again.

The `isinstance()` function can be used to check if an object belongs to a particular class hierarchy. It takes two arguments: the object and the class (or tuple of classes) being checked against.

What is super()?

Python is a programming language with powerful object-oriented features. One of the fundamental concepts in object-oriented programming (OOP) is inheritance, which enables us to derive new classes from existing ones. However, as we create child classes from parent classes, we sometimes need to access and modify attributes or methods of the parent class.

This is where Python’s built-in function `super()` comes into play. The `super` function is a built-in method in Python that retrieves a proxy object that allows you to call a method of the superclass (or parent class) from an instance of a subclass.

It provides a convenient way to override methods in the superclass without affecting other subclasses that inherit from it. By using `super()`, you can execute code both in the subclass and its superclass with ease.

Definition and explanation of the super() function

The syntax for using `super()` in Python looks like this:

super([type[, object-or-type]])

Here, `type` represents either a type or class on which we want to perform further operations on its method resolution order (MRO). If there’s no argument passed inside it, then by default it takes two parameters -the current subclass type and instance respectively.

The `object-or-type` parameter specifies an instance or subclass whose MRO will be searched for matching methods. It returns a temporary object of the superclass, which allows you to call its methods.

In essence, **`super()`** lets you access inherited methods that have been overridden in your class hierarchy. Instead of directly calling your parent’s implementation of an overridden method via its classname.methodname() syntax, you use **`super().methodname()`**, where **`methodname()`** refers to any method defined within your chosen inheritance chain.

How it relates to inheritance in Python

Inheritance is a mechanism in OOP that allows you to create new classes based on an existing class (or classes). When a class is derived from another class, it inherits all the data attributes and methods of the parent class.

One of the main benefits of inheritance is that it promotes reusable code, making development more efficient and faster. Python provides support for multiple inheritance, meaning you can derive a new child class from multiple parent classes.

However, this can lead to ambiguity when calling methods defined in multiple parent classes with the same name. The `super()` function helps us solve this problem by calling the next method resolution order (MRO) in line.

By invoking `super()`, we can easily delegate calls to methods defined in our superclass or any of its ancestors, without having to know exactly what those classes are at coding time. Overall, mastering `super()` is an essential skill for Python developers working with OOP as it allows them to write clean and maintainable code while facilitating code reuse and promoting efficiency.

Using super() to Call Parent Class Methods

One of the most common use cases for `super()` is to call parent class methods. When defining a child class, you may want to reuse or extend functionality from its parent class without having to redefine it completely. The `super()` function allows you to do this easily by accessing the parent class and calling its methods directly.

Step-by-step guide on how to use super() to call parent class methods

To use `super()` to call a method from a parent class, follow these steps:

  1. Define the child class and inherit from its parent.
  1. Create an instance of the child class.
child_instance = ChildClass()
  1. Call the method using `super()`. Here’s an example:
class ParentClass: def greet(self):

print("Hello!") class ChildClass(ParentClass):

def greet(self): super().greet()

child_instance = ChildClass() child_instance.greet()

In this example, we define two classes: `ParentClass` and `ChildClass`. The `ChildClass` inherits from the `ParentClass`.

We then create an instance of `ChildClass` called `child_instance`. When we call the method “greet” using `child_instance.greet()`, it will execute both implementations of “greet” – first in “ChildClass” and then in “ParentClass” – as defined by the use of `super()` in “ChildClass”.

Examples demonstrating the use of super()

Let’s look at an example where we want to extend a method from the parent class. Consider a class hierarchy where we have a base class `Animal` and a child class `Dog`:

class Animal: def make_sound(self):

print('Generic animal sound') class Dog(Animal):

def make_sound(self): super().make_sound()

print('Bark!')In this example, we define two classes: `Animal` and `Dog`.

The `Dog` class inherits from the `Animal` class. The `make_sound()` method is defined in both the parent and child classes, but when calling the method on an instance of `Dog`, it will execute both implementations of “make_sound” – first in “Dog” and then in “Animal”, as defined using `super()`.

This allows us to easily extend or reuse functionality from a parent class. Another example is when you want to override an attribute from the parent class, but still use its implementation.

Here’s how it can be done with super(): class Parent:

def __init__(self): & nbsp; & nbsp; self.value = 5

class Child(Parent): & nbsp; & nbsp; def __init__(self): < br >

super().__init__() & nbsp; & nbsp; self.value += 1

In this example, we define two classes: `Parent` and `Child`. The `Child` class inherits from the `Parent` class.

We override the constructor method in the child class to add one to the value of “value” defined in the parent class. By using `super().__init__()`, we call the parent’s constructor method and then add one to its result.

Multiple Inheritance with super()

Understanding Multiple Inheritance

In Python, multiple inheritance refers to the capability of a class to inherit from more than one parent class. This means that a child class can have access to methods and attributes from multiple parent classes.

However, multiple inheritance can also pose some challenges. One such challenge is the diamond problem, where two parent classes have a common method that is inherited by the child class leading to ambiguity as to which method should be called.

Using super() with Multiple Inheritance

Python’s `super()` function offers an elegant solution to handle multiple inheritance. By calling `super()`, you can chain the initialization of all parent classes in an ordered manner following the Method Resolution Order (MRO).

The MRO defines how Python searches for methods in a hierarchy of classes. Here’s an example – let’s say you have three classes: `Parent1`, `Parent2`, and `Child`.

The `Child` class inherits from both parents, and both parents have their own implementation of a method called `method_name()`. To ensure that only one version of this method is executed when it is called on an instance of Child, use super() as follows:

class Parent1: def method_name(self):

print("Parent1's implementation") class Parent2:

def method_name(self): print("Parent2's implementation")

class Child(Parent1, Parent2): def method_name(self):


In this example, calling `child_obj.method_name()` will result in “`Parent1’s implementation`”, because Python follows the MRO defined by the order in which we listed our parents: first Parent 1, then Parent 2.

Examples demonstrating the use of super() with Multiple Inheritance

To further illustrate the use of `super()` in multiple inheritance, let’s consider another example. Here we have three classes: `Shape`, `Color`, and `Square`.

The `Square` class inherits from both `Shape` and `Color`.

class Shape:

def __init__(self): = "shape"

class Color: def __init__(self):

self.color = "red" class Square(Shape, Color):

def __init__(self): super().__init__()

In this example, when we create an instance of Square, the constructor of both parent classes must be called to initialize their respective attributes. By calling `super().__init__()`, Python will first call the constructor of Shape to get its name attribute initialized, and then call the constructor of Color to get its color attribute initialized.

By following this order defined by the MRO, you can avoid any confusion or ambiguity that may arise from multiple inheritance. With this knowledge, you should now be able to effectively utilize super() with multiple inheritance in your Python programs.

Advanced Techniques with super()

The Method Resolution Order (MRO)

One of the advanced techniques that are crucial for mastering the use of super() is understanding the Method Resolution Order (MRO). In Python, when a method is called on an object, it searches for that method starting from the current class and then up to its parent classes. The MRO defines this order in which the search happens.

It is important because if two or more parent classes implement a method with the same name, Python needs to know which one to choose. Python uses a C3 linearization algorithm to compute MRO.

The C3 algorithm takes into account three important rules:

  1. Children should come before their parents
  2. If there are multiple parents, they should be considered in order
  3. If two parents share a common ancestor, only consider the first occurrence of that ancestor.

To access and manipulate the MRO, you can use __mro__ attribute available in any new-style class defined in Python.

Method Resolution Order Example

Here is an example to demonstrate how Python uses MRO to resolve methods:

python class A:

def greeting(self): print("Hello from A")

class B(A): def greeting(self):

print("Hello from B") class C(A):

def greeting(self): print("Hello from C")

class D(B,C): pass

d = D() d.greeting()

In this example, D inherits from both B and C which both inherit from A. When we call `d.greeting()`, it will look for `greeting()` first in D since it’s the current class that `d` belongs to. Since there’s no `greeting()` method defined in D, it will look for `greeting()` in B first because of the way we defined our inheritance order.

However, both B and C inherit from A, so Python needs to know which one to choose. Since B is listed before C in D’s inheritance definition, Python will look for `greeting()` in B and find it there.

Super() with MRO

One useful application of super() is when you have complex multiple inheritance hierarchies with shared ancestor classes and you want to call a method defined in one of those ancestor classes. Since using super() with just the class name won’t work as intended if there are multiple parents, you can use MRO to ensure that you’re calling the correct method:


class A: def greeting(self):

print("Hello from A") class B(A):

def greeting(self): super().greeting()

print("Hello from B") class C(A):

def greeting(self): super().greeting()

print("Hello from C") class D(B,C):

pass d = D()


In this example, `super().greeting()` call inside the methods defined in classes B and C allows us to call the implementation of `greeting()` defined in class A despite having multiple parents.

The order of parent class definitions in D still determines which implementation of `greeting()` (B or C) gets called first by super(). The use of MRO allows us not only to find out how we could have inherited attributes but also helps us understand an object’s ancestry by defining the sequence resolution used during attribute access.

Common Mistakes When Using Super()

Despite its usefulness, the super() function can be tricky to use correctly. Here are some common mistakes that developers make when using super():

1. Forgetting to Pass ArgumentsThe most common mistake made when using super() is forgetting to pass arguments. When calling a parent class method with super(), you must pass the current instance and any additional arguments required by the method. If you forget to pass the instance or any required arguments, your code will raise a TypeError. To avoid this mistake, always check that you have passed all required arguments when using super(). Make sure that you understand what each argument represents and how it relates to the method being called.

2. Using Super() Incorrectly with Multiple InheritanceThe second common mistake is related to multiple inheritance. When using multiple inheritance in Python, it can be tempting to use super() in both parent classes to call methods from other parent classes. However, this approach can lead to unexpected behavior and errors because each parent class may have different implementations of the same method. To avoid this mistake, it’s best to use super() only once per class hierarchy and carefully define the order of inheritance.

3. Failing to Understand Method Resolution Order (MRO)The final common mistake is failing to understand how Python resolves methods in multiple inheritance scenarios (known as Method Resolution Order or MRO). When using super(), it’s essential that you understand how MRO works so that you can call methods from the correct parent class. To avoid this mistake, take time to familiarize yourself with Python’s MRO algorithm and how it determines which method gets called when there are conflicts between inherited methods.

How to Avoid These Mistakes

To avoid the common mistakes made when using super(), here are some tips:

1. Understand How Super() WorksBefore using super(), make sure you fully understand how it works and the arguments it requires. Familiarize yourself with the concept of inheritance in Python, what parent and child classes are, and how Python resolves methods in multiple inheritance scenarios.

2. Check Your ArgumentsAlways check that you have passed all required arguments when using super(). Make sure that you understand what each argument represents and how it relates to the method being called.

3. Use Super() Only Once Per Class HierarchyTo avoid problems with multiple inheritance, use super() only once per class hierarchy and carefully define the order of inheritance. Be aware of differences between inherited methods and anticipate any conflicts before they arise. If you follow these tips, you should be able to use the super() function correctly without experiencing any common mistakes or errors.


Throughout this guide, we have explored the intricacies of Python’s super() function and its importance in inheritance. We started by exploring the basics of inheritance in Python and how it relates to super(). We then went on to discuss how to use super() to call parent class methods, even with multiple inheritance.

We covered advanced techniques using super(), such as method resolution order (MRO). The key takeaway from this guide is that mastering the use of super() can greatly improve the quality and flexibility of your code.

By understanding the nuances of inheritance and how it relates to super(), you can write cleaner, more maintainable code that is easy to read and understand. We hope that this guide has provided a valuable resource for developers looking to master super().

With practice and perseverance, you can become an expert at using this powerful built-in function. The world of Python programming is constantly evolving, but with a solid understanding of core concepts like inheritance and super(), you will be well-equipped for success.

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