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An object is any entity that can be manipulated by commands in a programming language. An object can be a value, a variable, a function, or a complex data-structure. In object-oriented programming, an object refers to an instance of a class.

Objects in object-oriented programming (OOP) are data structures combined with the associated processing routines. Classes are sets of objects, while objects are instances of sets. Objects have members and methods, defining their properties and their abilities. Classes can have their own members and methods, which define the properties and abilities of the set of objects. For instance, if we have a Bird class, its objects might have an age property and a fly ability, while the Bird class might have a number of birds or a migrate ability, which is applicable for the set. Class-level methods are called static, or shared. For instance, a file could be represented as an object: a collection of data and the associated read and write routines. In typical object-oriented languages, all objects are instances of classes.

Properties of an object

Three properties characterize objects:

  • Identity: the property of an object that distinguishes it from other objects
  • State: describes the data stored in the object
  • Behavior: describes the methods in the object's interface by which the object can be used

See also:

  • class (Used as a template for creating new objects)
  • oop (Object-oriented programming)