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What is the difference between @staticmethod and @classmethod? (16)

What is the difference between a function decorated with @staticmethod and one decorated with @classmethod?

What is the difference between @staticmethod and @classmethod in Python?

You may have seen Python code like this pseudocode, which demonstrates the signatures of the various method types and provides a docstring to explain each:

class Foo(object):

    def a_normal_instance_method(self, arg_1, kwarg_2=None):
        Return a value that is a function of the instance with its
        attributes, and other arguments such as arg_1 and kwarg2

    def a_static_method(arg_0):
        Return a value that is a function of arg_0. It does not know the 
        instance or class it is called from.

    def a_class_method(cls, arg1):
        Return a value that is a function of the class and other arguments.
        respects subclassing, it is called with the class it is called from.

The Normal Instance Method

First I'll explain a_normal_instance_method. This is precisely called an "instance method". When an instance method is used, it is used as a partial function (as opposed to a total function, defined for all values when viewed in source code) that is, when used, the first of the arguments is predefined as the instance of the object, with all of its given attributes. It has the instance of the object bound to it, and it must be called from an instance of the object. Typically, it will access various attributes of the instance.

For example, this is an instance of a string:

', '

if we use the instance method, join on this string, to join another iterable, it quite obviously is a function of the instance, in addition to being a function of the iterable list, ['a', 'b', 'c']:

>>> ', '.join(['a', 'b', 'c'])
'a, b, c'

Bound methods

Instance methods can be bound via a dotted lookup for use later.

For example, this binds the str.join method to the ':' instance:

>>> join_with_colons = ':'.join 

And later we can use this as a function that already has the first argument bound to it. In this way, it works like a partial function on the instance:

>>> join_with_colons('abcde')
>>> join_with_colons(['FF', 'FF', 'FF', 'FF', 'FF', 'FF'])

Static Method

The static method does not take the instance as an argument.

It is very similar to a module level function.

However, a module level function must live in the module and be specially imported to other places where it is used.

If it is attached to the object, however, it will follow the object conveniently through importing and inheritance as well.

An example of a static method is str.maketrans, moved from the string module in Python 3. It makes a translation table suitable for consumption by str.translate. It does seem rather silly when used from an instance of a string, as demonstrated below, but importing the function from the string module is rather clumsy, and it's nice to be able to call it from the class, as in str.maketrans

# demonstrate same function whether called from instance or not:
>>> ', '.maketrans('ABC', 'abc')
{65: 97, 66: 98, 67: 99}
>>> str.maketrans('ABC', 'abc')
{65: 97, 66: 98, 67: 99}

In python 2, you have to import this function from the increasingly less useful string module:

>>> import string
>>> 'ABCDEFG'.translate(string.maketrans('ABC', 'abc'))

Class Method

A class method is a similar to an instance method in that it takes an implicit first argument, but instead of taking the instance, it takes the class. Frequently these are used as alternative constructors for better semantic usage and it will support inheritance.

The most canonical example of a builtin classmethod is dict.fromkeys. It is used as an alternative constructor of dict, (well suited for when you know what your keys are and want a default value for them.)

>>> dict.fromkeys(['a', 'b', 'c'])
{'c': None, 'b': None, 'a': None}

When we subclass dict, we can use the same constructor, which creates an instance of the subclass.

>>> class MyDict(dict): 'A dict subclass, use to demo classmethods'
>>> md = MyDict.fromkeys(['a', 'b', 'c'])
>>> md
{'a': None, 'c': None, 'b': None}
>>> type(md)
<class '__main__.MyDict'>

See the pandas source code for other similar examples of alternative constructors, and see also the official Python documentation on classmethod and staticmethod.

Here is a short article on this question

@staticmethod function is nothing more than a function defined inside a class. It is callable without instantiating the class first. It’s definition is immutable via inheritance.

@classmethod function also callable without instantiating the class, but its definition follows Sub class, not Parent class, via inheritance. That’s because the first argument for @classmethod function must always be cls (class).

@staticmethod just disables the default function as method descriptor. classmethod wraps your function in a container callable that passes a reference to the owning class as first argument:

>>> class C(object):
...  pass
>>> def f():
...  pass
>>> staticmethod(f).__get__(None, C)
<function f at 0x5c1cf0>
>>> classmethod(f).__get__(None, C)
<bound method type.f of <class '__main__.C'>>

As a matter of fact, classmethod has a runtime overhead but makes it possible to access the owning class. Alternatively I recommend using a metaclass and putting the class methods on that metaclass:

>>> class CMeta(type):
...  def foo(cls):
...   print cls
>>> class C(object):
...  __metaclass__ = CMeta
>>> C.foo()
<class '__main__.C'>

Official python docs:


A class method receives the class as implicit first argument, just like an instance method receives the instance. To declare a class method, use this idiom:

class C:
    def f(cls, arg1, arg2, ...): ... 

The @classmethod form is a function decorator – see the description of function definitions in Function definitions for details.

It can be called either on the class (such as C.f()) or on an instance (such as C().f()). The instance is ignored except for its class. If a class method is called for a derived class, the derived class object is passed as the implied first argument.

Class methods are different than C++ or Java static methods. If you want those, see staticmethod() in this section.


A static method does not receive an implicit first argument. To declare a static method, use this idiom:

class C:
    def f(arg1, arg2, ...): ... 

The @staticmethod form is a function decorator – see the description of function definitions in Function definitions for details.

It can be called either on the class (such as C.f()) or on an instance (such as C().f()). The instance is ignored except for its class.

Static methods in Python are similar to those found in Java or C++. For a more advanced concept, see classmethod() in this section.

class method vs static method in Python

Class Method

The @classmethod decorator, is a builtin function decorator that is an expression that gets evaluated after your function is defined. The result of that evaluation shadows your function definition.

A class method receives the class as implicit first argument, just like an instance method receives the instance


class C(object):
    def fun(cls, arg1, arg2, ...):

fun: function that needs to be converted into a class method
returns: a class method for function.
  • A class method is a method which is bound to the class and not the object of the class.
  • They have the access to the state of the class as it takes a class parameter that points to the class and not the object instance.
  • It can modify a class state that would apply across all the instances of the class. For example it can modify a class variable that will be applicable to all the instances.

Static Method

A static method does not receive an implicit first argument.


class C(object):
    def fun(arg1, arg2, ...):
returns: a static method for function fun.
  • A static method is also a method which is bound to the class and not the object of the class.
  • A static method can’t access or modify class state.
  • It is present in a class because it makes sense for the method to be present in class.

Class method vs Static Method

  • A class method takes cls as first parameter while a static method needs no specific parameters.
  • A class method can access or modify class state while a static method can’t access or modify it.
  • We use @classmethod decorator in python to create a class method and we use @staticmethod decorator to create a static method in python.

When to use what?

  • We generally use class method to create factory methods. Factory methods return class object ( similar to a constructor ) for different use cases.
  • We generally use static methods to create utility functions.

How to define a class method and a static method?

To define a class method in python, we use @classmethod decorator and to define a static method we use @staticmethod decorator.

Let us look at an example to understand the difference between both of them. Let us say we want to create a class Person. Now, python doesn’t support method overloading like C++ or Java so we use class methods to create factory methods. In the below example we use a class method to create a person object from birth year.

As explained above we use static methods to create utility functions. In the below example we use a static method to check if a person is adult or not.


# Python program to demonstrate 
# use of class method and static method.
from datetime import date

class Person:
    def __init__(self, name, age):
        self.name = name
        self.age = age

    # a class method to create a Person object by birth year.
    def fromBirthYear(cls, name, year):
        return cls(name, date.today().year - year)

    # a static method to check if a Person is adult or not.
    def isAdult(age):
        return age > 18

person1 = Person('mayank', 21)
person2 = Person.fromBirthYear('mayank', 1996)

print person1.age
print person2.age

# print the result
print Person.isAdult(22)




@classmethod : can be used to create a shared global access to all the instances created of that class..... like updating a record by multiple users.... I particulary found it use ful when creating singletons as well..:)

@static method: has nothing to do with the class or instance being associated with ...but for readability can use static method

A staticmethod is a method that knows nothing about the class or instance it was called on. It just gets the arguments that were passed, no implicit first argument. It is basically useless in Python -- you can just use a module function instead of a staticmethod.

A classmethod, on the other hand, is a method that gets passed the class it was called on, or the class of the instance it was called on, as first argument. This is useful when you want the method to be a factory for the class: since it gets the actual class it was called on as first argument, you can always instantiate the right class, even when subclasses are involved. Observe for instance how dict.fromkeys(), a classmethod, returns an instance of the subclass when called on a subclass:

>>> class DictSubclass(dict):
...     def __repr__(self):
...         return "DictSubclass"
>>> dict.fromkeys("abc")
{'a': None, 'c': None, 'b': None}
>>> DictSubclass.fromkeys("abc")

A quick hack-up ofotherwise identical methods in iPython reveals that @staticmethod yields marginal performance gains (in the nanoseconds), but otherwise it seems to serve no function. Also, any performance gains will probably be wiped out by the additional work of processing the method through staticmethod() during compilation (which happens prior to any code execution when you run a script).

For the sake of code readability I'd avoid @staticmethod unless your method will be used for loads of work, where the nanoseconds count.

Another consideration with respect to staticmethod vs classmethod comes up with inheritance. Say you have the following class:

class Foo(object):
    def bar():
        return "In Foo"

And you then want to override bar() in a child class:

class Foo2(Foo):
    def bar():
        return "In Foo2"

This works, but note that now the bar() implementation in the child class (Foo2) can no longer take advantage of anything specific to that class. For example, say Foo2 had a method called magic() that you want to use in the Foo2 implementation of bar():

class Foo2(Foo):
    def bar():
        return "In Foo2"
    def magic():
        return "Something useful you'd like to use in bar, but now can't" 

The workaround here would be to call Foo2.magic() in bar(), but then you're repeating yourself (if the name of Foo2 changes, you'll have to remember to update that bar() method).

To me, this is a slight violation of the open/closed principle, since a decision made in Foo is impacting your ability to refactor common code in a derived class (ie it's less open to extension). If bar() were a classmethod we'd be fine:

class Foo(object):
    def bar(cls):
        return "In Foo"

class Foo2(Foo):
    def bar(cls):
        return "In Foo2 " + cls.magic()
    def magic(cls):
        return "MAGIC"

print Foo2().bar()

Gives: In Foo2 MAGIC

Basically @classmethod makes a method whose first argument is the class it's called from (rather than the class instance), @staticmethod does not have any implicit arguments.

I started learning programming language with C++ and then Java and then Python and so this question bothered me a lot as well, until I understood the simple usage of each.

Class Method: Python unlike Java and C++ doesn't have constructor overloading. And so to achieve this you could use classmethod. Following example will explain this

Let's consider we have a Person class which takes two arguments first_name and last_name and creates the instance of Person.

class Person(object):

    def __init__(self, first_name, last_name):
        self.first_name = first_name
        self.last_name = last_name

Now, if the requirement comes where you need to create a class using a single name only, just a first_name, you can't do something like this in python.

This will give you an error when you will try to create an object (instance).

class Person(object):

    def __init__(self, first_name, last_name):
        self.first_name = first_name
        self.last_name = last_name

    def __init__(self, first_name):
        self.first_name = first_name

However, you could achieve the same thing using @classmethod as mentioned below

class Person(object):

    def __init__(self, first_name, last_name):
        self.first_name = first_name
        self.last_name = last_name

    def get_person(cls, first_name):
        return cls(first_name, "")

Static Method:: This is rather simple, it's not bound to instance or class and you can simply call that using class name.

So let's say in above example you need a validation that first_name should not exceed 20 characters, you can simply do this.

def validate_name(name):
    return len(name) <= 20

and you could simply call using Class Name

Person.validate_name("Gaurang Shah")

I think a better question is "When would you use @classmethod vs @staticmethod?"

@classmethod allows you easy access to private members that are associated to the class definition. this is a great way to do singletons, or factory classes that control the number of instances of the created objects exist.

@staticmethod provides marginal performance gains, but I have yet to see a productive use of a static method within a class that couldn't be achieved as a standalone function outside the class.

Let me tell the similarity between a method decorated with @classmethod vs @staticmethod first.

Similarity: Both of them can be called on the Class itself, rather than just the instance of the class. So, both of them in a sense are Class's methods.

Difference: A classmethod will receive the class itself as the first argument, while a staticmethod does not.

So a static method is, in a sense, not bound to the Class itself and is just hanging in there just because it may have a related functionality.

>>> class Klaus:
        def classmthd(*args):
            return args

        def staticmthd(*args):
            return args

# 1. Call classmethod without any arg
>>> Klaus.classmthd()  
(__main__.Klaus,)  # the class gets passed as the first argument

# 2. Call classmethod with 1 arg
>>> Klaus.classmthd('chumma')
(__main__.Klaus, 'chumma')

# 3. Call staticmethod without any arg
>>> Klaus.staticmthd()  

# 4. Call staticmethod with 1 arg
>>> Klaus.staticmthd('chumma')

Maybe a bit of example code will help: Notice the difference in the call signatures of foo, class_foo and static_foo:

class A(object):
    def foo(self,x):
        print "executing foo(%s,%s)"%(self,x)

    def class_foo(cls,x):
        print "executing class_foo(%s,%s)"%(cls,x)

    def static_foo(x):
        print "executing static_foo(%s)"%x    


Below is the usual way an object instance calls a method. The object instance, a, is implicitly passed as the first argument.

# executing foo(<__main__.A object at 0xb7dbef0c>,1)

With classmethods, the class of the object instance is implicitly passed as the first argument instead of self.

# executing class_foo(<class '__main__.A'>,1)

You can also call class_foo using the class. In fact, if you define something to be a classmethod, it is probably because you intend to call it from the class rather than from a class instance. A.foo(1) would have raised a TypeError, but A.class_foo(1) works just fine:

# executing class_foo(<class '__main__.A'>,1)

One use people have found for class methods is to create inheritable alternative constructors.

With staticmethods, neither self (the object instance) nor cls (the class) is implicitly passed as the first argument. They behave like plain functions except that you can call them from an instance or the class:

# executing static_foo(1)

# executing static_foo(hi)

Staticmethods are used to group functions which have some logical connection with a class to the class.

foo is just a function, but when you call a.foo you don't just get the function, you get a "partially applied" version of the function with the object instance a bound as the first argument to the function. foo expects 2 arguments, while a.foo only expects 1 argument.

a is bound to foo. That is what is meant by the term "bound" below:

# <bound method A.foo of <__main__.A object at 0xb7d52f0c>>

With a.class_foo, a is not bound to class_foo, rather the class A is bound to class_foo.

# <bound method type.class_foo of <class '__main__.A'>>

Here, with a staticmethod, even though it is a method, a.static_foo just returns a good 'ole function with no arguments bound. static_foo expects 1 argument, and a.static_foo expects 1 argument too.

# <function static_foo at 0xb7d479cc>

And of course the same thing happens when you call static_foo with the class A instead.

# <function static_foo at 0xb7d479cc>

To decide whether to use @staticmethod or @classmethod you have to look inside your method. If your method accesses other variables/methods in your class then use @classmethod. On the other hand, if your method does not touches any other parts of the class then use @staticmethod.

class Apple:

    _counter = 0

    def about_apple():
        print('Apple is good for you.')

        # note you can still access other member of the class
        # but you have to use the class instance 
        # which is not very nice, because you have repeat yourself
        # For example:
        # @staticmethod
        #    print('Number of apples have been juiced: %s' % Apple._counter)
        # @classmethod
        #    print('Number of apples have been juiced: %s' % cls._counter)
        #    @classmethod is especially useful when you move your function to other class,
        #       you don't have to rename the class reference 

    def make_apple_juice(cls, number_of_apples):
        print('Make juice:')
        for i in range(number_of_apples):

    def _juice_this(cls, apple):
        print('Juicing %d...' % apple)
        cls._counter += 1


class Demo(object):
    def __init__(self,x):
        self.x = x

    def addone(self, x):
        return x+1

    def addtwo(x):
        return x+2

    def addthree(self, x):
        return x+3

def main():
    print Demo.addone(2)
    print Demo.addtwo(2)

    #print Demo.addthree(2) #Error
    demo = Demo(2)
    print demo.addthree(2)

if __name__ == '__main__':