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Name mangling in Python
  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 23 Jan, 2020

In name mangling process any identifier with two leading underscore and one trailing underscore is textually replaced with _classname__identifier where classname is the name of the current class. It means that any identifier of the form __geek (at least two leading underscores or at most one trailing underscore) is replaced with _classname__geek, where classname is the current class name with leading underscore(s) stripped.

Example:




# Python program to demonstrate
# name mangling
  
  
class Student:
    def __init__(self, name):
        self.__name = name
  
    def displayName(self):
        print(self.__name)
  
s1 = Student("Santhosh")
s1.displayName()
  
# Raises an error
print(s1.__name)


Output

Santhosh
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/be691046ea08cd2db075d27186ea0493.py", line 14, in 
    print(s1.__name)
AttributeError: 'Student' object has no attribute '__name'

In the above example, the class variable __name is not accessible outside the class. It can be accessed only within the class. Any modification of the class variable can be done only inside the class.

Name mangling process

With the help of dir() method, we can see the name mangling process that is done to the class variable. The name mangling process was done by the Interpreter. The dir() method is used by passing the class object and it will return all valid attributes that belong to that object.






# Python program to demonstrate
# name mangling
  
  
class Student:
    def __init__(self, name):
        self.__name = name
  
s1 = Student("Santhosh")
print(dir(s1))


Output

[‘_Student__name’, ‘__class__’, ‘__delattr__’, ‘__dict__’, ‘__dir__’, ‘__doc__’, ‘__eq__’, ‘__format__’, ‘__ge__’, ‘__getattribute__’, ‘__gt__’, ‘__hash__’, ‘__init__’, ‘__le__’, ‘__lt__’, ‘__module__’, ‘__ne__’, ‘__new__’, ‘__reduce__’, ‘__reduce_ex__’, ‘__repr__’, ‘__setattr__’, ‘__sizeof__’, ‘__str__’, ‘__subclasshook__’, ‘__weakref__’]

The above output shows dir() method returning all valid attributes with the name mangling process that is done to the class variable __name. The name changed from __name to _Student__name.

Accessing Name Mangled variables

The name mangling process helps to access the class variables from outside the class. The class variables can be accessed by adding _classname to it. The name mangling is closest to private not exactly private.




# Python program to demonstrate
# name mangling
  
  
class Student:
    def __init__(self, name):
        self.__name = name
  
s1 = Student("Santhosh")
print(s1._Student__name)


Output

Santhosh

The above class variable is accessed by adding the _classname to it. The class variable is accessed from outside the class with the name _Student__name.

Name mangling with method overriding

Due to name mangling, there is limited support for a valid use-case for class-private members basically to avoid name clashes of names with names defined by subclasses. Any identifier of the form __geek (at least two leading underscores or at most one trailing underscore) is replaced with _classname__geek, where classname is the current class name with leading underscore(s) stripped. As long as it occurs within the definition of the class, this mangling is done. This is helpful for letting subclasses override methods without breaking intraclass method calls.
Let’s look at this example and try to find out how this underscore works:

Example:




# Python code to illustrate how mangling works 
# With method overriding
  
class Map
    def __init__(self): 
        self.__geek() 
          
    def geek(self): 
        print("In parent class"
    
    # private copy of original geek() method 
    __geek = geek    
    
class MapSubclass(Map): 
        
    # provides new signature for geek() but 
    # does not break __init__() 
    def geek(self):         
        print("In Child class")
          
# Driver's code
obj = MapSubclass()
obj.geek()


Output:

In parent class
In Child class

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