Introduction to programming using Python

Session 5

Matthieu Choplin

### Objectives of Session 5 * Scopes of variables * Objects and Methods * Class creation and object instantiation
### Remainder of Session 4: Quiz (1) * What is the keyword that we need to use if we want to use a function defined in an other file than our current file?
### Remainder of Session 4: Quiz (2) * What is a module in python?

Scope of Variables

Scope: the part of the program where the variable can be referenced.

A variable created inside a function is referred to as a local variable. Local variables can only be accessed inside a function. The scope of a local variable starts from its creation and continues to the end of the function that contains the variable.

In Python, you can also use global variables. They are created outside all functions and are accessible to all functions in their scope.

Example 1

We say that the variables defined inside a function are local, they are only accessible within the function

Variable defined outside the scope of a function are global. They are accessible inside our outside the function

globalVar = 1
def f1():
    localVar = 2
print(localVar)  # Out of scope. This gives an error

Example 2

A variable can be global and local in a flow of a program, like x here

As soon as a function has finished being executed, the local variables (inside the function) are destroyed ("garbage collected"). But the global variable are still accessible.

x = 1
def f1():
    x = 2
    print(x) # Displays 2
print(x) # Displays 1

Example 3

If you are defining a variable according to a condition, watch out! It is better to give a default value.

x = int(input("Enter a number: "))
if (x > 0):
    y = 4
print(y) # This gives an error if y is not created

Example 4

Are you using the variables you are defining?

sum = 0
for i in range(0, 5):
    sum += i

Example 5

You can access the value of a global variable within the local scope but to modify it, you need to use the keyword global

x = 1
def increase():
    global x
    x =  x + 1
    print(x) # Displays 2
print(x) # Displays 2

Objects: illustration with the String object

  • In Python, all data —including numbers and strings— are actually objects.
  • An object is an entity. Each object has an id and a type.
  • >>> n = 3  # n is an integer
    >>> id(n)
    >>> type(n)
    <class 'int'>
    >>> f = 3.0  # f is a float
    >>> id(f)
    >>> type(f)
    <class 'float'>
    >>> s = "Welcome"  # s is a string
    >>> id(s)
    >>> type(s)
    <class 'str'>


  • You can perform operations on an object. The operations are defined using functions. The functions for the objects are called methods in Python. Methods can only be invoked from a specific object, using the dot notation
  • >>> s = "Welcome"
    >>> s1 = s.lower()
    >>> s1
    >>> s2 = s.upper()
    >>> s2

Seeing what methods are available

  • You can use the dir() introspection function to see what methods have been defined for an object
  • >>> dir("example of string")
    ['__add__', '__class__', '__contains__', '__delattr__', '__dir__',
    '__doc__', '__eq__', '__format__', '__ge__', '__getattribute__',
    '__getitem__', '__getnewargs__', '__gt__', '__hash__', '__init__',
    '__iter__', '__le__', '__len__', '__lt__', '__mod__', '__mul__',
    '__ne__', '__new__', '__reduce__', '__reduce_ex__', '__repr__',
    '__rmod__', '__rmul__', '__setattr__', '__sizeof__', '__str__',
    '__subclasshook__', 'capitalize', 'casefold', 'center', 'count',
    'encode', 'endswith', 'expandtabs', 'find', 'format', 'format_map',
    'index', 'isalnum', 'isalpha', 'isdecimal', 'isdigit', 'isidentifier',
    'islower', 'isnumeric', 'isprintable', 'isspace', 'istitle', 'isupper',
    'join', 'ljust', 'lower', 'lstrip', 'maketrans', 'partition', 'replace',
    'rfind', 'rindex', 'rjust', 'rpartition', 'rsplit', 'rstrip', 'split',
    'splitlines', 'startswith', 'strip', 'swapcase', 'title', 'translate',
    'upper', 'zfill']

The format() method

  • The format method helps to format the string
    • Either with positional arguments:
    text = "During session {}, " \
    "we learned to use {} ".format(5, 'OOP')
    • Or with named arguments
    text = "During session {session_name}, " \
    "we learned to use {topic} ".format(session_name=5, topic='OOP')
  • More information about string formating:

Creating our own Class


class NameOfTheClass:
    # the class body


class Employee:

Creating instances of a class

Instances are objects created from the class blueprint. When we create an object of a class, we say that we instantiate the object


class Employee:

employee1 = Employee()
employee2 = Employee()

Attributes of an object

  • To add an attribute we can simply add an attribute with the dot notation and assign a value to the attribute
  • class Employee:
    employee1 = Employee() = "Matt"

The special initializer method

  • Instead of adding the attribute after creating our object, we can create them directly when creating the object, in the initializer method
  • # class creation
    class Employee:
        def __init__(self, name):
   = name
    #object creation
    employee1 = Employee('Matt')
  • self represents the instance/object "employee1" here

Constructing Objects

  • Once a class is defined, you can create objects from the class by using the following syntax, called a constructor:
my_new_object = ClassName(optional_arguments)

Constructing Objects

The effect of constructing an Employee object with ...

employee1 = Employee(5)

... is shown below:

Exercise: adding attribute

  • Complete the previous code to create a new attribute "date_of_birth" to the Employee class, that will be "initialized"
  • Create 2 employee objects with a name and a date_of_birth and retrieve their date of birth

Class attribute

  • Like Instances, Classes can also have attributes
class Employee:
    count = 0
    def __init__(self):
        Employee.count += 1

for i in range(3):


Instance Methods

  • Methods are functions defined inside a class. They are invoked by objects to perform actions on the objects.
  • All the methods, including the constructor have the first parameter self, which refers to the object that invokes the method.
class Employee:
    def __init__(self, name): = name
    def generate_email_address(self):
        return + ""

employee1 = Employee('Matt')
# we call the method on the object

Exercise: adding a method

  • Complete the previous code by adding an additional method (set_name) that will set a new name to the employee
  • You should call the method like so:
  • employee1.set_name("Bob")
  • And when you retrieve the name of the employee1, it should say "Bob"

Accessing Objects

  • After an object is created, you can access its data fields and invoke its methods using the dot operator (.)
# we create an employee object
employee1 = Employee('Matt')
# we call the method of the object using the dot notation
# we access one of the attribute of the object

UML Class Diagram

Trace execution

See what is happening in memory with Pythontutor (click link)

Example: Defining Classes and Creating Objects

Example: Defining Classes and Creating Objects

Exercise - The Rectangle class

Following the example of the Circle class, design a class named Rectangle to represent a rectangle. The class contains:

  • Two data fields named width and height.
  • A constructor that creates a rectangle with the specified width and height. The default values are 1 and 2 for the width and height, respectively.
  • A method named getArea() that returns the area of this rectangle
  • A method named getPerimeter() that returns the perimeter

Implement the class. Write a test program that creates two Rectangle objects—one with width 4 and height 40 and the other with width 3.5 and height 35.7. Display the width, height, area, and perimeter of each rectangle in this order.

Exercise: The Account class

Design a class named Account that contains:

  • A field named id for the account.
  • A field named balance for the account.
  • A field named annualInterestRate that stores the current interest rate.
  • A constructor that creates an account with the specified id (default 0), initial balance (default 100), and annual interest rate (default 0).
  • A method named getMonthlyInterestRate() that returns the monthly interest rate.
  • A method named getMonthlyInterest() that returns the monthly interest.
  • A method named withdraw that withdraws a specified amount from the account.
  • A method named deposit that deposits a specified amount to the account.
  • Create a method getBalance that will show the message: "The current balance of the account 0 is 100" (use format).