The year was 2005. I was a young child in elementary school, and eventually I was exposed to a little-known strategy game known as Warcraft III. As I championed the human race in my epic quest against the Undead Scourge of Lordaeron, I came across a sorceress ability known as “Polymorphism”. This powerful spell allowed its caster to turn an individual target into a harmless sheep. While entertaining and useful to say the least, little did I know that Polymorphism itself would take on a new form in the years to come…
Fast forward to 2021. I am being exposed once again to Polymorphism, this time as an essential feature of Object-Oriented programming. This would mark the third time that I am working with this concept (the other times being 2016-2017, and 2019 respectively). Polymorphism, in theory, isn’t very difficult: we take one idea (such as a function/method), and give it “many forms” (hence the name) among its various classes that use the function/method.
Listed below is an article about polymorphism from GeeksForGeeks, one of my “personal go-tos” when it comes to learning about programming practices. Specifically, “runtime polymorphism” will be more applicable in my software design class, due to its usage of method overriding. When using the “Strategy Design” of refactoring, we will create various interfaces and have them implemented using respective classes; these classes will then create their own version of the method.
Strategy design refactoring seems to provide an edge over “simple inheritance”, which would involve having a single base class (that all subclasses inherit off of). This “edge” is the removal of inherited methods that serve no purpose in certain subclasses; when the interface is implemented by the class, we can choose exactly what we want and don’t want from polymorphism.
However, having too many interfaces, or not enough data within the interface can cause its own problems. In addition, an interface is just that: a “top-down” view, with nothing beneath it; the methods need to be designed by the class using it. Meanwhile, inheritance may have redundant data, but at least you get all that and a bag of chips. In other words, inheritance provides one portion of functioning methods, plus whatever else is added on in the subclass.
I hope that I can use the idea of polymorphism, alongside interfaces, to reduce the amount of redundancy and complexity in my programs. There is no need to turn a program into a headache with unnecessary amounts of inheritance. In addition, part of this unnecessary material could be redundant – brought along for the ride, but not used during run-time.