The Object Cube

There’s the lambda cube, and the big data cube. Why not a an object cube? Here would be three axis:

  1. Object Existence — The object existence dimension can range for everything ia a mutable object, to more distinctions between mutable and immutable objects, or objects and values. Existence, identity and mutability are tightly related (“I have an identity therefore I exist”).
  2. Object Composition — The object composition dimension can range from no composition at all (an object define its unique behavior without any possiblity of reuse) to behavior reuse with class-based inheritance or prototype-base delegation, possibly with additional mechanisms like mixin and traits. Essential, the machinery of reuse implies late-binding and certain lookup rules. Composition is then also related to virtualization (of methods, classes). It is also about procedural abstraction.
  3. Object Interaction — The object interaction dimension can range from complete freedom (any object can interact with another object) to more displined approach with control visibility via module and namespaces, or behavioral restriction (read-only, priviledges, aliasing).

Let us consider inheritance. Inheritance itself is a composition feature: the behavior of a class can be flattened and duck typing is possible. The type system that enforce inheritance is an interaction feature that prevents run-time type errors, but also duck typing. Inheritance does not relate closely to existence (but hierarchies must be sound wrt to existence).

Object modularity could have been a way to subsume composition and interaction — making the cube a square — but composition and interaction capture two different kinds of features: composition is about defining the exact behavior of one object possibly involving other entites, while interaction is about the behavior of objects when two of them communicate. Both composition and interaction might rely on namespaces and scoping mechanisms, though. These mechanisms have no mean in itself, they serve a cause that is either composition or interaction.


2017.09.21: there’s also the Scale Cube!

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