Python Language Functools Module total_ordering


When we want to create an orderable class, normally we need to define the methods __eq()__, __lt__(), __le__(), __gt__() and __ge__().

The total_ordering decorator, applied to a class, permits the definition of __eq__() and only one between __lt__(), __le__(), __gt__() and __ge__(), and still allow all the ordering operations on the class.

class Employee:


    def __eq__(self, other):
        return ((self.surname, == (other.surname,

    def __lt__(self, other):
        return ((self.surname, < (other.surname,

The decorator uses a composition of the provided methods and algebraic operations to derive the other comparison methods. For example if we defined __lt__() and __eq()__ and we want to derive __gt__(), we can simply check not __lt__() and not __eq()__.

Note: The total_ordering function is only available since Python 2.7.