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Definition

instance

What is an instance?

An instance, in object-oriented programming (OOP), is a specific realization of any object. An object may be varied in a number of ways. Each realized variation of that object is an instance. The creation of a realized instance is called instantiation.

Each time a program runs, it is an instance of that program. In languages that create objects from classes, an object is an instantiation of a class. That is, it is a member of a given class that has specified values rather than variables. In a non-programming context, you could think of "dog" as a class and your particular dog as an instance of that class.

This was last updated in September 2008
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