Operators C# Help

Although most of C#’s operators should be familiar to C and C++ developers, this section discusses the most important operators for the benefit of new programmers and Visual Basic converts, as.well as to shed light on some of the changes introduced with C# .

C# supports the operators listed in the following table,


Note that four specific operators (sizeof, “, ->, and &, listed in the following table), however, are available only in unsafe code (code that bypasses C#’s type-safety checking), which is discussed in Chapter 12,”Memory Management and Pointers,” It is also important to note that the sizeof operator keywords, when used with the .NET Framework 1.0 and 1.1, require the unsafe mode, This is not a requirement since the ,NET Framework 2,0,

Operator keywords ( size of (for.NET Framework versions 1.0 and 1.1 only) )

Operators ( * – >  & )

 One of the biggest pitfalls to watch out for when using C# operators is that, like other C-style languages, C# uses different operators for assignment (=)and comparison (==).For instance, the following statement means let x equal three

x = 3;

U you now want to compare x to a value, you need to use the double equals sign ==:

if (x == 3)


Fortunately, C#’s strict type-safety rules prevent the very common C error where assignment is performed instead of comparison in logical statements. This means that in C# the following statement will generate a compiler error:

if (x = 3)


Visual Basic programmers who are accustomed to using the ampersand (&) character to concatenate strings will have to make an adjustment. In C#, the plus sign (+) is used instead for concatenation, whereas the & symbol denotes a bit wise AND between two different integer values. The symbol I allows you to perform a bit wise OR between two integers. Visual Basic programmers also might not recognize the modulus (%) arithmetic operator. This returns the remainder after division, so, for example, x % 5 returns 2 if x is equal to 7

You will use few pointers in C#, and, therefore, few indirection operators. More specifically,the only place you will use them is within blocks of unsafe code, because that is the only place in C#where pointers are allowed.

Operator Shortcuts

The following table shows the full list of shortcut assignment operators available in C#.

You may be wondering why there are two examples each for the ++ increment and the – – decrement operators. Placing the operator before the expression is known as a prefix, placing the operator after the expression is known as a postfix, and it is important to note that there is a difference in the way they behave.

The increment and decrement operators can act both as whole expressions and within expressions. When used by themselves, the effect of’botp the prefix and postfix versions is identical and corresponds to the statement x = x + 1. Wheh used within larger expressions, the prefix operator will increment the value of x befor~ the expression is evaluated) in other words, x is incremented and the new value is used in the expression. Ir contrast, the postfix operator incremenfs. the value of x after the expression is evaluated – the expression is evaluated using the original value of x. The following example uses the increment operator (++) as an example to demonstrate the difference between the prefix and postfix behavior:

The first if condition evaluates to true, because x is incremented from 5 to 6 before the expression is evaluated. The condition in the second if statement is false, however, because x is incremented to 7 only after the entire expression has been evaluated (while x = 6).

The prefix and postfix operators – -x and x- – behave in the same way, but decrement rather than increment the operand.

The other shortcut operators, such as += and -=, require two operands, and are used to modify the value of the first operand by performing an arithmetic, logical, or bitwise operation on it. For example, the next two lines are equivalent:

x += 5;
x = x + 5;

The following sections look at some of the primary and ~st operators that you will frequently use within your C# code.

The Conditional Operator

The conditional operator (? : ), also known as the ternary operator, is a shorthand form of the if …else construction. It gets its name from the fact that it involves three operands. It allows you to evaluate a condition, returning one value if that condition is true, or another value if it is false. The syntax is:

condition? true_value: false_value

Here, condition is the Boolean expression to be evaluated, true_value is the value that will he n;turned if condition is true, and false value is the value that will be returned otherwise.

When used sparingly, the conditional operator can add a dash of terseness to your programs. It is especially handy for providing one of a couple of arguments to a function that is being invoked. You can use it to quickly convert a Boolean value to a string value of true or false. It is also handy for displaying the correct singular or plural form of a word, for example:

int x = 1;
string s = x + ‘ ‘;
s += (x == 1 ? ‘man’ : ‘men’);

This code displays 1 man if x is equal to one but will display the correct plural form for any other number. Note, however, that if your output needs to be localized to different languages, you will have to write more sophisticated routines to take into account the different grammatical rules of different languages.

The checked and unchecked Operators

Consider the following code:

byte b = 255;
Console.WriteLine(b.ToString() };

The byte data type can hold values only in the range zero to 255, so incrementing the value of b causes an overflow. How the CLRhandles this depends on a number of issues, including compiler options, so whenever there’s a risk of an unintentional overflow, you need some way of making sure that you get the result you want.

To do this, C# provides the checked and unchecked operators. If you mark a block of code as checked, the CLR will enforce overflow checking, and throw an OverflowException if an overflow occurs. Let’s change the code to include the checked operator:

byte b = 255;
b++ ; )
Console.WriteLine(b.ToString() };

When you try to run this code, you will get an error message like this:

Unhandled Exception: System.OVerflowException: Arithmetic operation resulted in an oiverflow.

at csharpaid.ProCSharp.Basics.OVerflowTest.Main(String[] args)

You can enforce overflow checking for all unmarked code in your program by specifying the / checked compiler option.

If you want to suppress overflow checking, you can mark the code as unchecked:

byte b = 255;
Console.WriteLine(b.ToString() };

In this case, no exception will be raised, but you will lose data – because the byte type cannot hold a value of 256, the overflowing bits will be discarded, and your b variable will hold a value of zero (0).

Note that unchecked is the default behavior. The only time you are likely to need to explicitly use the unchecked keyword is if you need a few unchecked lines of code inside a larger block that you have explicitly marked as checked.

 The is Operator

The is operator allows you to check whether an object is compatible with a specific type. The phrase “is compatible” means that an object either is of that type or is derived from that type. For example, to check whether a variable is compatible with the object type, you could use the following bit· of code:

int, like all C# data types, inherits from object; therefore the expression i is object will evaluate to true in this case, and the appropriate message will be displayed.

The as Operator

The as operator is used to perform explicit type conversions of reference types. If the type being converted is compatible with the specified type, conversion is performed successfully. However, if the types are incompatible, the as operator returns the value null. As shown in the following code, attempting to convert an object reference to a string will return null if the object reference does not actually refer to a string instance:

object 01       string sl
object 02        string s2
‘Some String’;
01 as string;           II sl = ‘Some String”
02 as string;           II 52 = null

The as operator allows you to perform a safe type conversion in a single step without the need to first test the type using the is operator and then perform the conversion.

The size of Operator

You can determine the size (in bytes) required on the stack by a value type using the sizeof operator:


Console.WriteLine(sizeof(int) );


This will display the number 4, because an int is 4 bytes long.

Notice that you can use the sizeof operator only in unsafe code.

The type of Operator

The type of operator returns a System. Type object representing a specified type. For example, type of (string) will return a Type object representing the System. String type. This is useful when you want to use reflection to find information about an object dynamically.

Nullable Types and Operators

Looking at the Boolean type, you have a true or false value that you can assign to this type. However, what if you wanted to define the value of the type as undefined? This is where using nullable types can have a distinct value to your applications. If you use nullable types in your programs, you must always consider the effect a null value can have when used in conjunction with the various operators. Usually, when using a binary or binary operator with nullable types, the result will be null if one or both of the operands is null. For example:

However, when comparing nullable types, if only one of the operands is null, the comparison will always equate to false. This means that you cannot assume a condition is true just because its opposite is false, as often happens in programs using non-null able types. For example:

The possibility of a null value means that you cannot freely combine nullable and non-nullable types in an expression.

The Null Coalescing Operator·

The null coalescing operator (??) provides a shorthand mechanism to cater to the possibility of null values when working with nullable and reference types. The operator is placed between two operands – the first operand must be a nullable type or reference type, and the second operand must be of the same type as the first or of a type that is implicitly convertible to the type of the first operand. The null coalescing operator .evaluates as follows: If the first operand is not null, then the overall expression has the value of the first operand. However, if the first operand is null, then the overall expression has the value of the second operand. For example:

If the second operand cannot be implicitly converted to the type of the first operand, a compile-time error is generated.

Operator Precedence

The following table shows the order of precedence of the C# operators. The operators at the top of the table are those with the highest precedence (that is, the ones evaluated first in an expression containing multiple operators).

In complex expressions, you should avoid relying on operator precedence to produce the correct result. Using parentheses to specify the word. in which you want operators applied clarify your code and prevents potential confusion.

Posted on October 28, 2015 in Operators and Casts

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