__imul__() magic method implements in-place multiplication
x *= y that multiplies the operands with each other and assigns the result to the left operand. This operation is also called augmented arithmetic assignment. The method simply returns the new value to be assigned to the first operand.
- When you call
x *= y, Python first attempts to call
- If this is not implemented, it tries the normal multiplication
- If this is not implemented either, it tries reverse multiplication
y.__rmul__(x)with swapped operands.
The result is then assigned to the first operand
x. If none of those operations is implemented, Python raises a
We call this a “Dunder Method” for “Double Underscore Method” (also called “magic method”). To get a list of all dunder methods with explanation, check out our dunder cheat sheet article on this blog.
Basic Example Overriding __imul__
In the following code example, you create a class
Data and define the magic method
- The “self” argument is the default argument of each method and it refers to the object on which it is called—in our case, the first operand of the in-place operation.
- The “other” argument of the in-place method refers to the second operand, i.e.,
yin the in-place operation
x *= y.
The return value of the operation returns a dummy string
'finxter 42' to be assigned to the first operand. In practice, this would be the result of the in-place multiplication.
class Data: def __imul__(self, other): return 'finxter 42' x = Data() y = Data() x *= y print(x) # finxter 42
In-Place Multiplication Without __imul__()
To support in-place multiplication on a custom class, you don’t have to overwrite the in-place
__imul__() method. Because if the method is not defined, Python will fall back to the normal
__mul__() method and assign its result to the first operand.
Here’s an example:
class Data: def __mul__(self, other): return 'finxter 42' x = Data() y = Data() x *= y print(x) # finxter 42
Even though the
__imul__() method is not defined, the in-place multiplication operation
x *= y still works due to the
__mul__() “fallback” magic method!
In-Place Multiplication Without __imul__() and __mul__()
To support in-place multiplication
x *= y on a custom class, you don’t even have to overwrite any of the
x.__mul__(y) methods. If both are not defined, Python falls back to the reverse
y.__rmul__(x) method and assigns its result to the first operand.
Here’s an example where you create a custom class for the first operand that doesn’t support the multiplication operation. Then you define a custom class for the second operand that defines the
__rmul__() method. For the in-place operation, Python falls back to the
__rmul__() method defined on the second operand and assigns it to the first operand
class Data_1: pass class Data_2: def __rmul__(self, other): return 'finxter 42' x = Data_1() y = Data_2() x *= y print(x) # finxter 42
TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for *=
If you try to perform in-place multiplication
x *= y but neither
y.__rmul(x) is defined, Python raises a “
TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for *=“. To fix this error, simply define any of those methods before performing the in-place operation.
class Data: pass x = Data() y = Data() x *= y
Traceback (most recent call last): File "C:\Users\xcent\Desktop\code.py", line 8, in <module> x *= y TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for *=: 'Data' and 'Data'
Where to Go From Here?
Enough theory. Let’s get some practice!
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While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com that has taught exponential skills to millions of coders worldwide. He’s the author of the best-selling programming books Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), The Art of Clean Code (NoStarch 2022), and The Book of Dash (NoStarch 2022). Chris also coauthored the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books. He’s a computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.