Adventures in Machine Learning

Unleashing the Power of Polymorphism: A Guide to Programming Flexibility

Exploring the Fascinating World of Polymorphism in Programming

Have you ever wondered how multiple objects in a program can be treated as if they are of the same data type, despite being of different types? This is where the concept of polymorphism in programming comes in.

Polymorphism is one of the fundamental concepts of object-oriented programming, and it enables building complex and efficient systems. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of polymorphism, its definition, and how to implement it in programming.

Besides, we will also take a look at some practical examples to help you understand the concept better.

Definition of Polymorphism

Polymorphism is a Greek word that means “many forms.” In programming, polymorphism is a feature that allows objects to be treated as if they belong to the same class, even though they belong to different classes. Simply put, it is the ability of an object to take many forms that depend on the context.

Polymorphism with Class

In object-oriented programming, classes are the blueprints that define objects. Polymorphism with classes is achieved when an object of a subclass inherits the methods of its parent class but implements them according to its specific needs.

The method implemented in the subclass overrides the method of the parent class. Python is a popular language for implementing polymorphism with classes.

For instance, assume we have two classes, Square and Circle, both of which have a method to calculate the area. The code for the two classes can look like this:


class Square():

def area(self, side):

return side * side

class Circle():

def area(self, radius):

return 3.14 * radius * radius


Here, the two classes are different, yet they implement the same method, “area.” Now, if we want to calculate the areas of both squares and circles, we can do so by defining objects of both classes and calling the area method on each of them.

Polymorphism with Inheritance

Polymorphism with inheritance is another way to implement this concept. Inheritance is the process by which objects derive characteristics from their parent class.

Polymorphism with inheritance is achieved when a subclass executes the parent class’s code while implementing its own functionalities. To understand how polymorphism with inheritance works, let us consider an example.

Assume that we have an Animal class that has a method called “make_sound,” and two derived classes, Rabbit and Horse. The Rabbit and Horse classes implement their versions of the “make_sound” method, which overrides the Animal class’s version.


class Animal():

def make_sound(self):


class Rabbit(Animal):

def make_sound(self):


class Horse(Animal):

def make_sound(self):



Here, the derived classes Rabbit and Horse inherit the Animal class’s “make_sound” method but implement it differently. If we now define objects of these classes and call their “make_sound” method, they will produce different sounds.

Example Implementations of Polymorphism

Polymorphism is an essential concept in programming, and it can be implemented in different ways. Let us now take a look at some example implementations of polymorphism.

Polymorphism with Classes and Objects

In this example, we will implement polymorphism with classes and objects. The classes we will use are the Square and Circle classes we defined earlier.

Assume we want to calculate the areas of different shapes, including squares and circles. We can implement the following code:


shapes = [Square(), Circle()]

for shape in shapes:

if isinstance(shape, Square):

print(“Area of Square:”, shape.area(5))

elif isinstance(shape, Circle):

print(“Area of Circle:”, shape.area(2))


Here, we define a list “shapes” that contains objects of the Square and Circle classes.

We then loop through the list and check if each object is an instance of the Square or Circle class using the “isinstance” function. Depending on the object’s class, we call the appropriate method to calculate its area.

Polymorphism with Inheritance

In this example, we will use the Animal, Rabbit, and Horse classes we defined earlier to demonstrate polymorphism with inheritance. Assume we want to create a list of animals and make them make their respective sounds.

We can implement the following code:


animals = [Rabbit(), Horse()]

for animal in animals:



Here, we define a list “animals” that contains objects of the Rabbit and Horse classes. We then loop through the list “animals” and call their “make_sound” method.

Depending on the object’s class, the respective sound will be produced.


Polymorphism is an essential concept in programming that allows objects of different classes to be treated as if they belong to the same class. This is achieved either through classes or inheritance.

It is an efficient and effective way to build complex systems while maintaining code simplicity and robustness. We hope this article has provided you with a clear understanding of the concept and its implementation.

Expanded Discussion on Polymorphism in Python

Polymorphism in programming is a powerful technique that enables objects of different classes to be treated as if they belong to the same class. It allows for more robust, flexible, and efficient code while reducing complexity.

Python is a popular programming language widely used in developing complex systems that apply polymorphism. In this expansion, we will explore two different types of polymorphism in Python: compile-time polymorphism or method overloading and operator overloading.

Compile-Time Polymorphism or Method Overloading

Compile-time polymorphism, also known as method overloading, is a type of polymorphism where an operator or method provides different implementations depending on the number or the type of arguments passed. Method overloading can take place statically (at compile time) or dynamically (at runtime).

In Python, Python3 does not support static function or method overloading, which means that we cannot overload functions statically i.e., by passing different parameters. If you try to define a new function with the same name/type of existing function and pass different parameters, it will overwrite the previous function’s implementation as it only recognizes the newly defined function.

However, it is possible to achieve dynamic function overloading by defining functions with the same name and passing different types of arguments. For example,


def area(x):

return x * x

def area(x, y):

return x * y


print(area(2, 6))


In this example, we create two functions with the same name, “area,” but one version takes one argument and the other version takes two arguments. When we call the function with one argument, the first version is called, and when we pass two arguments, the second version is called.

However, it is important to note that dynamic method overloading can lead to confusion and complexity if not managed carefully.

Operator Overloading in Python

Python is known for its ability to operate on different data types, even the most complex ones. Python provides support for operator overloading, a type of polymorphism that enables you to redefine the operators’ behavior when operating on different types of operands.

By default, operators such as ‘+’, ‘-‘, ‘*’, ‘/’, etc., work with basic data types such as integers, floats, and strings. Operator overloading enables developers to define a customized behavior for operators when operating on user-defined data types.

Operator overloading is widely used in Python classes, and it allows the same operator to be used with different data types, making code more readable and efficient. For example, we can overload the addition operator ‘+’ to operate on instances of a custom class.

Consider the following complex class. “`

class Complex:

def __init__(self, real, imag):

self.real = real

self.imag = imag

def __add__(self, other):

return Complex(self.real + other.real, self.imag + other.imag)

def __str__(self):

return “{}+{}i”.format(self.real, self.imag)


Here, we overload the addition operator ‘+’ to add instances of a Custom complex number class.

The implementation of the addition function adds the real and the imaginary parts of the two operands and returns a new instance of the class, which represents their sum. “`

x = Complex(2, 5)

y = Complex(5, 7)

z = x + y



Here, we create two instances of the class ‘Complex,’ defined earlier. Adding the instances using the ‘+’ operator results in the operands’ real and imaginary parts being added, as defined in the ‘__add__’ method, and returning a new instance of the class.


Polymorphism is a powerful technique in Python programming that enables developers to write more efficient, scalable, and flexible code. Method overloading and operator overloading are two types of polymorphism that are widely used in developing Python systems.

Compile-time polymorphism, also called method overloading, allows for different behavior of functions or methods by providing different implementations depending on the type or number of arguments passed. While in Python, method overloading can only be performed dynamically, operator overloading enables the redefinition of the operators’ behavior when operating on different data types.

Python supports operator overloading and makes it easy to work with user-defined data types. In conclusion, polymorphism is a crucial concept in Python programming that allows for more robust, efficient, and flexible code.

Polymorphism is achieved through method overloading or operator overloading. While Python only offers dynamic method overloading, operator overloading allows for redefining operators’ behavior when operating on different data types, improving code readability and efficiency.

Python’s support for polymorphism and operator overloading makes it easy to work with user-defined data types, making the language one of the most practical, efficient, and popular programming languages. A takeaway from this article is that understanding polymorphism and operator overloading is crucial in developing complex Python systems.