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Glossary » prototype-instance model

prototype-instance model

(programming) a version of object-oriented programming that does not have classes. Instead, objects inherit behavior directly from other objects. This dramatically simplifies the language by removing unnecessary concepts such as metaclasses. This approach was popularized by the “Self” language.

(psychology) a theory of how people organize concepts. A concept is assumed to be defined by a prototype, so that, when a person thinks of birds in general, a prototypical bird comes to mind, let’s say a sparrow. Then when deciding whether anything else is a bird, they compare how similar it is to their prototype. Thus, an ostrich still seems like a bird, but much less like a bird than a robin, which is very similar to a sparrow.