this article shows where c3 goes wrong and develops an improved algorithm c3.9;

c3 and c3.9 are not specific to python, but we give examples in python;

## example 0

one of the constraints in c3 is epg consistency: there is a path in the epg from every class in the linearization to all of its successors in the linearization;

epg itself is constructed by adding an edge when you find a common subclass for a pair of classes:

 A  -->  B
|       |
...     ...
|       |
X       Y
\   /
Z


epg consistency aims to support the result by explaining why one class should precede another in the linearization; but this is not always persuading; note that epg consistency asks for a path, not an edge; we now give an example where you can find no edge but only a path:

#     K       B       A       K
#         X               Y
#                 Z

class K: pass
class B: pass
class A: pass
class X(K,B): pass
class Y(A,K): pass
class Z(X,Y): pass
print(Z.mro())


output:

ZXYAKB


looking at the graph, it is reasonable that A precedes K and K precedes B in the result; however, A precedes B is only given by transitivity: there is no edge from A to B in epg, because there is no common subclass of A and B that puts A before B in its local precedence order; on the contrary, this is a subgraph in epg:

 B  -->  A
|       |
...     ...
|       |
X       Y
\   /
Z


which, at first glance, probably makes you believe B should precede A in the result;

this example shows epg consistency isnt that useful; sometimes you dont know what it implies and why you want it;

## example 1

we give an example where c3 fails to find valid result:

#        A       C
#        B       D      X      A
#                E      F
#                G

class A(object): pass
class B(A): pass
class C(object): pass
class D(C): pass
class X(object): pass
class E(B, D, A): pass
class F(B, D, X, A): pass
class G(E, F): pass
print(G.mro())


output:

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "XX.py", line XX, in <module>
class G(E, F): pass
TypeError: Cannot create a consistent method resolution
order (MRO) for bases A, C


the script fails; c3 fails when it cannot find a linearization that satisfies all 3 constraints; does that mean there is no such linearization? try GEFBDCXA and you know it is a valid linearization satisfying all 3 constraints; but c3 cannot find it;

## example 2

this example has two files:

• file 0:

#        A       C
#        B       D      (X)      A
#                E

class A(object): pass
class B(A): pass
class C(object): pass
class D(C): pass
class E(B, D, A): pass
print(E.mro())


output:

EBDAC

• file 1:

class A(object): pass
class B(A): pass
class C(object): pass
class D(C): pass
class X(object): pass
class E(B, D, X, A): pass
print(E.mro())


output:

EBDCXA


the only difference between these two files is an independent class X mixed into E; however, this seemingly innocuous mixin caused a reordering of other superclasses (AC vs CA); it is common for a developer to add or remove a mixin class in his code; if this would cause a change of other superclasses in the mro, that is certainly bad;

## example 3

lets try something bigger:

#   A       B       C       D       E       F       G       H
#       I               J               K               L
#               M                               N
#                               O

class A: pass
class B: pass
class C: pass
class D: pass
class E: pass
class F: pass
class G: pass
class H: pass
class I(A,B): pass
class J(C,D): pass
class K(E,F): pass
class L(G,H): pass
class M(I,J): pass
class N(K,L): pass
class O(M,N): pass
print (O.mro())


output:

OMIABJCDNKEFLGH


beautiful depth-first search, isnt it? however, imagine this use case:

you are an app developer; M and N come from 2 different libraries; you like both classes so you subclass them as O; assume N provides a method foo in its public interface; when you call O().foo(), you expect N.foo being called; but look at how many classes are listed before N in the mro? if any of IABJCD happens to define a method with the same name foo, for example B.foo, then that one will be called instead of N.foo! as an app developer, you have to trace into every library class involved! this is huge amount of work!

## algorithm c3.9

example 3 is worth some study: N is a direct superclass of O; when we call O().foo(), why is N.foo hidden by a deep, indirect B.foo?

c3 is stupid in this example because of its epg consistency; the epg consistency focuses on a depth-first order and pays far less attention to the height of a node; we claim that the height is important! deverlopers are near-sighted; they dont trace into dependency of dependency to learn how to use a dependency; thus it is important to give them locality based priority;

i proposed algorithm c3.9 as an update to c3: c3.9 works exactly as c3, except that it gives the direct superclass list the highest priority when moving a class out of merge; in other words:

• c3 does this:

L[C(B1 ... BN)] = C + merge(L[B1], ..., L[BN], B1 ... BN)

• c3.9 does this:

L[C(B1 ... BN)] = C + merge(B1 ... BN, L[B1], ... , L[BN])


when compared to c3, c3.9 preserves monotonicity and local precedence order, but breaks epg consistency;

for example, with example 3, c3.9 outputs:

OMNIJABCDKLEFGH


why is this better?

back to our use case; assume both B and N define method foo; B defines foo for use by M, so when M calls foo it is expecting B.foo; N defines foo for use by O, so when O calls foo it is expecting N.foo; these are valid assumptions;

• in c3: B precedes N in O.mro; when M calls foo on a O object, no matter it is using M.mro or O.mro, it will be calling B.foo, which is correct; but when O calls foo on a O object, it is also calling B.foo (not N.foo), which is wrong; as an app developer, N is at your hand, while B is in deep library; something far breaks something near, which is not in accordance with the principle that local overrides global; O cannot use a superclass mro, while its own mro is wrong; this is very hard to fix;

• in c3.9: N precedes B in O.mro; when O calls foo on a O object, it is calling N.foo not B.foo, which is correct; the importance here is that we can also get M right when M calls foo, by asking M to use M.mro not O.mro; M.mro doesnt know about N.foo, so M will call B.foo, which is correct; this is the only way things can work;

below we run the same examples with c3.9;

## c3.9: example 0

output:

ZXYAKB


the same as c3; but c3.9 doesnt support epg consistency, making the result less confusing;

## c3.9: example 1

output:

GEFBDXAC


unlike c3, c3.9 doesnt fail and finds a result;

## c3.9: example 2

output:

EBDAC


output:

EBDXAC


EBDAC is a subsequence of EBDXAC; adding or removing an independent superclass doesnt reorder other superclasses;

the proof involves running c3 and c3.9 in parallel;

in fact, the result still holds if X is an independent subgraph (not necessarily a single node); proof is similar;

## c3.9: example 3

output:

OMNIJABCDKLEFGH


we have analysed this above;

## proof of c3.9

remember the 3 constraints in c3:

1. consistency with the extended precedence graph (epg):

c3.9 doesnt have this constraint; here we show where the proof of c3 fails on c3.9;

we use this example:

#    A
#    B       C
#        E

class A: pass
class B(A): pass
class C: pass
class E(B,C): pass
print(E.mro())

• c3 workflow:

L[A] = A
L[B] = BA
L[C] = C
L[E] = E + [BA C BC]
= EB + [A C C]
= EBA + [C C]
= EBAC

• c3.9 workflow:

L[A] = A
L[B] = BA
L[C] = C
L[E] = E + [BC BA C]
= EB + [C A C]     # here C is not a leader but moved out! it
# is chosen because it is head of superclass
# column, not because it is a leader!
= EBC + [A]
= EBCA


the proof of c3 is based on this property: every time we move a node out of merge, that node is a leader;

this property doesnt hold in c3.9; c3.9 prioritizes the direct superclass column when deciding which node to move out; if the head of the direct superclass column can be moved out, then it will be chosen even if it is not a leader;

2. local precedence order:

proof is the same as c3;

3. monotonicity:

proof is the same as c3;

## c3.9 implementation in python

upgrading from c3 to c3.9 only requires 4 loc (6 loc including comments) in the latest python source code:

diff --git a/Objects/typeobject.c b/Objects/typeobject.c
index 720363410c..015a2a6f2b 100644
--- a/Objects/typeobject.c
+++ b/Objects/typeobject.c
@@ -1783,7 +1783,7 @@ mro_implementation(PyTypeObject *type)
each base class.

to_merge is an array of tuples, where each tuple is a superclass
-       linearization implied by a base class.  The last element of
+       linearization implied by a base class.  The first element of
to_merge is the declared tuple of bases.
*/

@@ -1793,11 +1793,11 @@ mro_implementation(PyTypeObject *type)
return NULL;
}

+    to_merge = bases;
for (i = 0; i < n; i++) {
PyTypeObject *base = (PyTypeObject *)PyTuple_GET_ITEM(bases, i);
-        to_merge[i] = base->tp_mro;
+        to_merge[i + 1] = base->tp_mro;
}
-    to_merge[n] = bases;

result = PyList_New(1);
if (result == NULL) {


## c3.9 name origin

i found c3 not working very well in python 3.8 and so developed c3.9, hoping it could get included in python 3.9; however, this is unlikely because this change would break some code using super() with multiple inheritance;

but the name remains: c3.9;

you probably want to argue the name is improper because epg consistency is gone; then dont forget c3.9 gives you another good property that lets you add and remove independent superclasses without reordering other superclasses; 1 gain, 1 loss; still c3.9;