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Private Methods in Python
  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 26 Nov, 2019

Prerequisites –

Encapsulation is one of the fundamental concepts in object-oriented programming (OOP). It describes the idea of wrapping data and the methods that work on data within one unit. This puts restrictions on accessing variables and methods directly and can prevent the accidental modification of data. A class is an example of encapsulation as it encapsulates all the data that is member functions, variables, etc.

Now, there can be some scenarios in which we need to put restrictions on some methods of the class, so that they can neither be accessed outside the class nor by any subclasses. To implement this private methods come into play.

Private methods

Consider a real life example, a car engine, which is made up of many parts like spark plug, valves, piston, etc. No user use these parts directly, rather they just know how to use the parts which uses them. This is what private methods are used for. It is used to hide the inner functionality of any class from the outside world.

Private methods are those methods that should neither be accessed outside the class nor by any base class. In Python, there is no existence of Private methods that cannot be accessed except inside a class. However, to define a private method prefix the member name with double underscore__”.



Note: The __init__ method is a constructor and runs as soon as an object of a class is instantiated.




# Python program to 
# demonstrate private methods
  
# Creating a Base class 
class Base: 
  
    # Declaring public method
    def fun(self):
        print("Public method")
  
    # Declaring private method
    def __fun(self):
        print("Private method")
  
# Creating a derived class 
class Derived(Base): 
    def __init__(self): 
          
        # Calling constructor of 
        # Base class 
        Base.__init__(self
          
    def call_public(self):
          
        # Calling public method of base class
        print("\nInside derived class")
        self.fun()
          
    def call_private(self):
          
        # Calling private method of base class
        self.__fun()
  
# Driver code 
obj1 = Base()
  
# Calling public method
obj1.fun()
  
obj2 = Derived()
obj2.call_public()
  
# Uncommenting obj1.__fun() will 
# raise an AttributeError 
  
# Uncommenting obj2.call_private() 
# will also raise an AttributeError

Output:

Public method

Inside derived class
Public method
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/09d6f91fdb63d16200e172c7a925dd7f.py", line 43, in 
    obj1.__fun() 
AttributeError: 'Base' object has no attribute '__fun'

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/0d5506bab8f06cb7c842501d9704557b.py", line 46, in 
    obj2.call_private() 
  File "/home/0d5506bab8f06cb7c842501d9704557b.py", line 32, in call_private
    self.__fun()
AttributeError: 'Derived' object has no attribute '_Derived__fun'

The above example shows that private methods of the class can neither be accessed outside the class nor by any base class. However, private methods can be accessed by calling the private methods via public methods.

Example:




# Python program to 
# demonstrate private methods
   
# Creating a class 
class A: 
   
    # Declaring public method
    def fun(self):
        print("Public method")
   
    # Declaring private method
    def __fun(self):
        print("Private method")
      
    # Calling private method via
    # another method
    def Help(self):
        self.fun()
        self.__fun()
          
# Driver's code
obj = A()
obj.Help()

Output:

Public method
Private method

Name mangling

Python provides a magic wand which can be used to call private methods outside the class also, it is known as name mangling. 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 private methods
    
# Creating a class 
class A: 
    
    # Declaring public method
    def fun(self):
        print("Public method")
    
    # Declaring private method
    def __fun(self):
        print("Private method")
          
# Driver's code
obj = A()
  
# Calling the private member 
# through name mangling
obj._A__fun()

Output:

Private method

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