The singleton pattern is one of the best-known patterns in software engineering. Essentially, a singleton is a class which only allows a single instance of itself to be created, and usually gives simple access to that instance. Most commonly, singletons don't allow any parameters to be specified when creating the instance - as otherwise a second request for an instance but with a different parameter could be problematic! (If the same instance should be accessed for all requests with the same parameter, the factory pattern is more appropriate.) This article deals only with the situation where no parameters are required. Typically a requirement of singletons is that they are created lazily - i.e. that the instance isn't created until it is first needed.
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