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Documentation for API authors

mmtutorial import uarray as ua

Multimethods are the most important part of uarray. They are created via the generate_multimethod function. Multimethods define the API of a project, and backends have to be written against this API. You should see libauthordocs for how to define a backend against the multimethods you write, or userdocs for how to switch backends for a given API.

A multimethod has the following parts:

  • Domain
  • Argument extractor
  • Argument replacer
  • Default implementation

We will go through each of these in detail now.


See the glossary for domain <DomainGlossary>.

Argument extractor

An argument extractor extracts arguments marked <MarkingGlossary> as a given type from the list of given arguments. Note that the objects extracted don't necessarily have to be in the list of arguments, they can be arbitrarily nested within the arguments. For example, extracting each argument from a list is a possibility. Note that the order is important, as it will come into play later. This function should return an iterable of Dispatchable.

This function has the same signature as the multimethod itself, and the documentation, name and so on are copied from the argument extractor via functools.wraps.

Argument replacer

The argument replacer takes in the arguments and dispatchable arguments, and its job is to replace the arguments previously extracted by the argument extractor by other arguments provided in the list. Therefore, the signature of this function is (args, kwargs, dispatchable_args), and it returns an args/kwargs pair. We realise this is a hard problem in general, so we have provided a few simplifications, such as that the default-valued keyword arguments will be removed from the list.

We recommend following the pattern in here for optimal operation: passing the args/kwargs into a function with a similar signature and then return the modified args/kwargs.

Default implementation

This is a default implementation for the multimethod, ideally with the same signature as the original multimethod. It can also be used to provide one multimethod in terms of others, even if the default implementation for the. downstream multimethods is not defined.


Examples of writing multimethods are found in this file. It also teaches some advanced techniques, such as overriding instance methods, including __call__. The same philosophy may be used to override properties, static methods, and class methods.