Saturday, 28 February 2015

Summary of Object Oriented Programming Part 2

Since I already made a post on Object Oriented Programming concepts, and since the course syllabus is asking me to write a second, here is a follow up post covering a few more concepts I didn't get to cover the first time around.

Anyways, in my last post, I think I covered "what" object oriented programming is. In this one, I want to cover the "why". And the answer isn't at all obvious. I mean, many of the programs we've written thus far could have simply been written functionally, without a single class definition being written. However, to understand the value of objects will require that we first understand Abstract Data Types.

VI) Abstract Data Types:

Abstract Data Types are simply types of data. A type of data can be anything- such as a sequence of alphabetical characters spelling "I_love_you", or the number 4, or even a combination, like "no_i love_you_5ever". Data can also be something like the blueprints to a computer. Don't think too hard about the "data" part- think about the "abstract" part instead.

A big part of being abstract is to not just be a mere "instantiation" of something, but to be, in a way, connected to many types of things. Think back to our discussions on classes. A class, such as class "int", seems to be abstract, in that it isn't tied to any particular instance of the class (like the integer 4). Now, when I say "abstract" I do not mean "vague". Although both words seem to refer to properties not tied to individual instances of things, they are very different. Something which is abstract is, to some extent, well defined. For instance, a square. A square has 4 sides of equal length. This is true for all squares, and you would likely label the vast majority of things you see with four equal sides a "square". When something is vague, in contrast, it is not well defined. In fact, this is why it appears to be applicable to so many different kinds of problems, or able to be interpreted in so many different ways.

The key feature to object oriented programming, I think, is that it tries to take these sorts of abstract data types, and implement them in an intuitive way. I gives programmers the tools needed to do this herculean task- such as the ability to create classes, and to give special properties to any instances of the class. In this way, it affords programmers a plethora of ways to solve whichever given problem they are trying to tackle. Their theoretical toolbox is expanded to include nearly anything from their imagination.

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