# Types

The types of the C# language are divided into two main categories: * value types* and

*. Both value types and reference types may be*

**reference types***, which take one or more*

**generic types***. Type parameters can designate both value types and reference types.*

**type parameters**```
type
: value_type
| reference_type
| type_parameter
| type_unsafe
;
```

The final category of types, pointers, is available only in unsafe code. This is discussed further in Pointer types.

Value types differ from reference types in that variables of the value types directly contain their data, whereas variables of the reference types store * references* to their data, the latter being known as

*. With reference types, it is possible for two variables to reference the same object, and thus possible for operations on one variable to affect the object referenced by the other variable. With value types, the variables each have their own copy of the data, and it is not possible for operations on one to affect the other.*

**objects**C#'s type system is unified such that a value of any type can be treated as an object. Every type in C# directly or indirectly derives from the `object`

class type, and `object`

is the ultimate base class of all types. Values of reference types are treated as objects simply by viewing the values as type `object`

. Values of value types are treated as objects by performing boxing and unboxing operations (Boxing and unboxing).

## Value types

A value type is either a struct type or an enumeration type. C# provides a set of predefined struct types called the * simple types*. The simple types are identified through reserved words.

```
value_type
: struct_type
| enum_type
;
struct_type
: type_name
| simple_type
| nullable_type
;
simple_type
: numeric_type
| 'bool'
;
numeric_type
: integral_type
| floating_point_type
| 'decimal'
;
integral_type
: 'sbyte'
| 'byte'
| 'short'
| 'ushort'
| 'int'
| 'uint'
| 'long'
| 'ulong'
| 'char'
;
floating_point_type
: 'float'
| 'double'
;
nullable_type
: non_nullable_value_type '?'
;
non_nullable_value_type
: type
;
enum_type
: type_name
;
```

Unlike a variable of a reference type, a variable of a value type can contain the value `null`

only if the value type is a nullable type. For every non-nullable value type there is a corresponding nullable value type denoting the same set of values plus the value `null`

.

Assignment to a variable of a value type creates a copy of the value being assigned. This differs from assignment to a variable of a reference type, which copies the reference but not the object identified by the reference.

### The System.ValueType type

All value types implicitly inherit from the class `System.ValueType`

, which, in turn, inherits from class `object`

. It is not possible for any type to derive from a value type, and value types are thus implicitly sealed (Sealed classes).

Note that `System.ValueType`

is not itself a *value_type*. Rather, it is a *class_type* from which all *value_type*s are automatically derived.

### Default constructors

All value types implicitly declare a public parameterless instance constructor called the * default constructor*. The default constructor returns a zero-initialized instance known as the

*for the value type:*

**default value**- For all
*simple_type*s, the default value is the value produced by a bit pattern of all zeros:- For
`sbyte`

,`byte`

,`short`

,`ushort`

,`int`

,`uint`

,`long`

, and`ulong`

, the default value is`0`

. - For
`char`

, the default value is`'\x0000'`

. - For
`float`

, the default value is`0.0f`

. - For
`double`

, the default value is`0.0d`

. - For
`decimal`

, the default value is`0.0m`

. - For
`bool`

, the default value is`false`

.

- For
- For an
*enum_type*`E`

, the default value is`0`

, converted to the type`E`

. - For a
*struct_type*, the default value is the value produced by setting all value type fields to their default value and all reference type fields to`null`

. - For a
*nullable_type*the default value is an instance for which the`HasValue`

property is false and the`Value`

property is undefined. The default value is also known as theof the nullable type.**null value**

Like any other instance constructor, the default constructor of a value type is invoked using the `new`

operator. For efficiency reasons, this requirement is not intended to actually have the implementation generate a constructor call. In the example below, variables `i`

and `j`

are both initialized to zero.

```
class A
{
void F() {
int i = 0;
int j = new int();
}
}
```

Because every value type implicitly has a public parameterless instance constructor, it is not possible for a struct type to contain an explicit declaration of a parameterless constructor. A struct type is however permitted to declare parameterized instance constructors (Constructors).

### Struct types

A struct type is a value type that can declare constants, fields, methods, properties, indexers, operators, instance constructors, static constructors, and nested types. The declaration of struct types is described in Struct declarations.

### Simple types

C# provides a set of predefined struct types called the * simple types*. The simple types are identified through reserved words, but these reserved words are simply aliases for predefined struct types in the

`System`

namespace, as described in the table below.Reserved word |
Aliased type |
---|---|

`sbyte` |
`System.SByte` |

`byte` |
`System.Byte` |

`short` |
`System.Int16` |

`ushort` |
`System.UInt16` |

`int` |
`System.Int32` |

`uint` |
`System.UInt32` |

`long` |
`System.Int64` |

`ulong` |
`System.UInt64` |

`char` |
`System.Char` |

`float` |
`System.Single` |

`double` |
`System.Double` |

`bool` |
`System.Boolean` |

`decimal` |
`System.Decimal` |

Because a simple type aliases a struct type, every simple type has members. For example, `int`

has the members declared in `System.Int32`

and the members inherited from `System.Object`

, and the following statements are permitted:

```
int i = int.MaxValue; // System.Int32.MaxValue constant
string s = i.ToString(); // System.Int32.ToString() instance method
string t = 123.ToString(); // System.Int32.ToString() instance method
```

The simple types differ from other struct types in that they permit certain additional operations:

- Most simple types permit values to be created by writing
*literals*(Literals). For example,`123`

is a literal of type`int`

and`'a'`

is a literal of type`char`

. C# makes no provision for literals of struct types in general, and non-default values of other struct types are ultimately always created through instance constructors of those struct types. - When the operands of an expression are all simple type constants, it is possible for the compiler to evaluate the expression at compile-time. Such an expression is known as a
*constant_expression*(Constant expressions). Expressions involving operators defined by other struct types are not considered to be constant expressions. - Through
`const`

declarations it is possible to declare constants of the simple types (Constants). It is not possible to have constants of other struct types, but a similar effect is provided by`static readonly`

fields. - Conversions involving simple types can participate in evaluation of conversion operators defined by other struct types, but a user-defined conversion operator can never participate in evaluation of another user-defined operator (Evaluation of user-defined conversions).

### Integral types

C# supports nine integral types: `sbyte`

, `byte`

, `short`

, `ushort`

, `int`

, `uint`

, `long`

, `ulong`

, and `char`

. The integral types have the following sizes and ranges of values:

- The
`sbyte`

type represents signed 8-bit integers with values between -128 and 127. - The
`byte`

type represents unsigned 8-bit integers with values between 0 and 255. - The
`short`

type represents signed 16-bit integers with values between -32768 and 32767. - The
`ushort`

type represents unsigned 16-bit integers with values between 0 and 65535. - The
`int`

type represents signed 32-bit integers with values between -2147483648 and 2147483647. - The
`uint`

type represents unsigned 32-bit integers with values between 0 and 4294967295. - The
`long`

type represents signed 64-bit integers with values between -9223372036854775808 and 9223372036854775807. - The
`ulong`

type represents unsigned 64-bit integers with values between 0 and 18446744073709551615. - The
`char`

type represents unsigned 16-bit integers with values between 0 and 65535. The set of possible values for the`char`

type corresponds to the Unicode character set. Although`char`

has the same representation as`ushort`

, not all operations permitted on one type are permitted on the other.

The integral-type unary and binary operators always operate with signed 32-bit precision, unsigned 32-bit precision, signed 64-bit precision, or unsigned 64-bit precision:

- For the unary
`+`

and`~`

operators, the operand is converted to type`T`

, where`T`

is the first of`int`

,`uint`

,`long`

, and`ulong`

that can fully represent all possible values of the operand. The operation is then performed using the precision of type`T`

, and the type of the result is`T`

. - For the unary
`-`

operator, the operand is converted to type`T`

, where`T`

is the first of`int`

and`long`

that can fully represent all possible values of the operand. The operation is then performed using the precision of type`T`

, and the type of the result is`T`

. The unary`-`

operator cannot be applied to operands of type`ulong`

. - For the binary
`+`

,`-`

,`*`

,`/`

,`%`

,`&`

,`^`

,`|`

,`==`

,`!=`

,`>`

,`<`

,`>=`

, and`<=`

operators, the operands are converted to type`T`

, where`T`

is the first of`int`

,`uint`

,`long`

, and`ulong`

that can fully represent all possible values of both operands. The operation is then performed using the precision of type`T`

, and the type of the result is`T`

(or`bool`

for the relational operators). It is not permitted for one operand to be of type`long`

and the other to be of type`ulong`

with the binary operators. - For the binary
`<<`

and`>>`

operators, the left operand is converted to type`T`

, where`T`

is the first of`int`

,`uint`

,`long`

, and`ulong`

that can fully represent all possible values of the operand. The operation is then performed using the precision of type`T`

, and the type of the result is`T`

.

The `char`

type is classified as an integral type, but it differs from the other integral types in two ways:

- There are no implicit conversions from other types to the
`char`

type. In particular, even though the`sbyte`

,`byte`

, and`ushort`

types have ranges of values that are fully representable using the`char`

type, implicit conversions from`sbyte`

,`byte`

, or`ushort`

to`char`

do not exist. - Constants of the
`char`

type must be written as*character_literal*s or as*integer_literal*s in combination with a cast to type`char`

. For example,`(char)10`

is the same as`'\x000A'`

.

The `checked`

and `unchecked`

operators and statements are used to control overflow checking for integral-type arithmetic operations and conversions (The checked and unchecked operators). In a `checked`

context, an overflow produces a compile-time error or causes a `System.OverflowException`

to be thrown. In an `unchecked`

context, overflows are ignored and any high-order bits that do not fit in the destination type are discarded.

### Floating point types

C# supports two floating point types: `float`

and `double`

. The `float`

and `double`

types are represented using the 32-bit single-precision and 64-bit double-precision IEEE 754 formats, which provide the following sets of values:

- Positive zero and negative zero. In most situations, positive zero and negative zero behave identically as the simple value zero, but certain operations distinguish between the two (Division operator).
- Positive infinity and negative infinity. Infinities are produced by such operations as dividing a non-zero number by zero. For example,
`1.0 / 0.0`

yields positive infinity, and`-1.0 / 0.0`

yields negative infinity. - The
value, often abbreviated NaN. NaNs are produced by invalid floating-point operations, such as dividing zero by zero.**Not-a-Number** - The finite set of non-zero values of the form
`s * m * 2^e`

, where`s`

is 1 or -1, and`m`

and`e`

are determined by the particular floating-point type: For`float`

,`0 < m < 2^24`

and`-149 <= e <= 104`

, and for`double`

,`0 < m < 2^53`

and`-1075 <= e <= 970`

. Denormalized floating-point numbers are considered valid non-zero values.

The `float`

type can represent values ranging from approximately `1.5 * 10^-45`

to `3.4 * 10^38`

with a precision of 7 digits.

The `double`

type can represent values ranging from approximately `5.0 * 10^-324`

to `1.7 × 10^308`

with a precision of 15-16 digits.

If one of the operands of a binary operator is of a floating-point type, then the other operand must be of an integral type or a floating-point type, and the operation is evaluated as follows:

- If one of the operands is of an integral type, then that operand is converted to the floating-point type of the other operand.
- Then, if either of the operands is of type
`double`

, the other operand is converted to`double`

, the operation is performed using at least`double`

range and precision, and the type of the result is`double`

(or`bool`

for the relational operators). - Otherwise, the operation is performed using at least
`float`

range and precision, and the type of the result is`float`

(or`bool`

for the relational operators).

The floating-point operators, including the assignment operators, never produce exceptions. Instead, in exceptional situations, floating-point operations produce zero, infinity, or NaN, as described below:

- If the result of a floating-point operation is too small for the destination format, the result of the operation becomes positive zero or negative zero.
- If the result of a floating-point operation is too large for the destination format, the result of the operation becomes positive infinity or negative infinity.
- If a floating-point operation is invalid, the result of the operation becomes NaN.
- If one or both operands of a floating-point operation is NaN, the result of the operation becomes NaN.

Floating-point operations may be performed with higher precision than the result type of the operation. For example, some hardware architectures support an "extended" or "long double" floating-point type with greater range and precision than the `double`

type, and implicitly perform all floating-point operations using this higher precision type. Only at excessive cost in performance can such hardware architectures be made to perform floating-point operations with less precision, and rather than require an implementation to forfeit both performance and precision, C# allows a higher precision type to be used for all floating-point operations. Other than delivering more precise results, this rarely has any measurable effects. However, in expressions of the form `x * y / z`

, where the multiplication produces a result that is outside the `double`

range, but the subsequent division brings the temporary result back into the `double`

range, the fact that the expression is evaluated in a higher range format may cause a finite result to be produced instead of an infinity.

### The decimal type

The `decimal`

type is a 128-bit data type suitable for financial and monetary calculations. The `decimal`

type can represent values ranging from `1.0 * 10^-28`

to approximately `7.9 * 10^28`

with 28-29 significant digits.

The finite set of values of type `decimal`

are of the form `(-1)^s * c * 10^-e`

, where the sign `s`

is 0 or 1, the coefficient `c`

is given by `0 <= *c* < 2^96`

, and the scale `e`

is such that `0 <= e <= 28`

.The `decimal`

type does not support signed zeros, infinities, or NaN's. A `decimal`

is represented as a 96-bit integer scaled by a power of ten. For `decimal`

s with an absolute value less than `1.0m`

, the value is exact to the 28th decimal place, but no further. For `decimal`

s with an absolute value greater than or equal to `1.0m`

, the value is exact to 28 or 29 digits. Contrary to the `float`

and `double`

data types, decimal fractional numbers such as 0.1 can be represented exactly in the `decimal`

representation. In the `float`

and `double`

representations, such numbers are often infinite fractions, making those representations more prone to round-off errors.

If one of the operands of a binary operator is of type `decimal`

, then the other operand must be of an integral type or of type `decimal`

. If an integral type operand is present, it is converted to `decimal`

before the operation is performed.

The result of an operation on values of type `decimal`

is that which would result from calculating an exact result (preserving scale, as defined for each operator) and then rounding to fit the representation. Results are rounded to the nearest representable value, and, when a result is equally close to two representable values, to the value that has an even number in the least significant digit position (this is known as "banker's rounding"). A zero result always has a sign of 0 and a scale of 0.

If a decimal arithmetic operation produces a value less than or equal to `5 * 10^-29`

in absolute value, the result of the operation becomes zero. If a `decimal`

arithmetic operation produces a result that is too large for the `decimal`

format, a `System.OverflowException`

is thrown.

The `decimal`

type has greater precision but smaller range than the floating-point types. Thus, conversions from the floating-point types to `decimal`

might produce overflow exceptions, and conversions from `decimal`

to the floating-point types might cause loss of precision. For these reasons, no implicit conversions exist between the floating-point types and `decimal`

, and without explicit casts, it is not possible to mix floating-point and `decimal`

operands in the same expression.

### The bool type

The `bool`

type represents boolean logical quantities. The possible values of type `bool`

are `true`

and `false`

.

No standard conversions exist between `bool`

and other types. In particular, the `bool`

type is distinct and separate from the integral types, and a `bool`

value cannot be used in place of an integral value, and vice versa.

In the C and C++ languages, a zero integral or floating-point value, or a null pointer can be converted to the boolean value `false`

, and a non-zero integral or floating-point value, or a non-null pointer can be converted to the boolean value `true`

. In C#, such conversions are accomplished by explicitly comparing an integral or floating-point value to zero, or by explicitly comparing an object reference to `null`

.

### Enumeration types

An enumeration type is a distinct type with named constants. Every enumeration type has an underlying type, which must be `byte`

, `sbyte`

, `short`

, `ushort`

, `int`

, `uint`

, `long`

or `ulong`

. The set of values of the enumeration type is the same as the set of values of the underlying type. Values of the enumeration type are not restricted to the values of the named constants. Enumeration types are defined through enumeration declarations (Enum declarations).

### Nullable types

A nullable type can represent all values of its * underlying type* plus an additional null value. A nullable type is written

`T?`

, where `T`

is the underlying type. This syntax is shorthand for `System.Nullable<T>`

, and the two forms can be used interchangeably.A * non-nullable value type* conversely is any value type other than

`System.Nullable<T>`

and its shorthand `T?`

(for any `T`

), plus any type parameter that is constrained to be a non-nullable value type (that is, any type parameter with a `struct`

constraint). The `System.Nullable<T>`

type specifies the value type constraint for `T`

(Type parameter constraints), which means that the underlying type of a nullable type can be any non-nullable value type. The underlying type of a nullable type cannot be a nullable type or a reference type. For example, `int??`

and `string?`

are invalid types.An instance of a nullable type `T?`

has two public read-only properties:

- A
`HasValue`

property of type`bool`

- A
`Value`

property of type`T`

An instance for which `HasValue`

is true is said to be non-null. A non-null instance contains a known value and `Value`

returns that value.

An instance for which `HasValue`

is false is said to be null. A null instance has an undefined value. Attempting to read the `Value`

of a null instance causes a `System.InvalidOperationException`

to be thrown. The process of accessing the `Value`

property of a nullable instance is referred to as * unwrapping*.

In addition to the default constructor, every nullable type `T?`

has a public constructor that takes a single argument of type `T`

. Given a value `x`

of type `T`

, a constructor invocation of the form

```
new T?(x)
```

creates a non-null instance of `T?`

for which the `Value`

property is `x`

. The process of creating a non-null instance of a nullable type for a given value is referred to as * wrapping*.

Implicit conversions are available from the `null`

literal to `T?`

(Null literal conversions) and from `T`

to `T?`

(Implicit nullable conversions).

## Reference types

A reference type is a class type, an interface type, an array type, or a delegate type.

```
reference_type
: class_type
| interface_type
| array_type
| delegate_type
;
class_type
: type_name
| 'object'
| 'dynamic'
| 'string'
;
interface_type
: type_name
;
array_type
: non_array_type rank_specifier+
;
non_array_type
: type
;
rank_specifier
: '[' dim_separator* ']'
;
dim_separator
: ','
;
delegate_type
: type_name
;
```

A reference type value is a reference to an * instance* of the type, the latter known as an

*. The special value*

**object**`null`

is compatible with all reference types and indicates the absence of an instance.### Class types

A class type defines a data structure that contains data members (constants and fields), function members (methods, properties, events, indexers, operators, instance constructors, destructors and static constructors), and nested types. Class types support inheritance, a mechanism whereby derived classes can extend and specialize base classes. Instances of class types are created using *object_creation_expression*s (Object creation expressions).

Class types are described in Classes.

Certain predefined class types have special meaning in the C# language, as described in the table below.

Class type |
Description |
---|---|

`System.Object` |
The ultimate base class of all other types. See The object type. |

`System.String` |
The string type of the C# language. See The string type. |

`System.ValueType` |
The base class of all value types. See The System.ValueType type. |

`System.Enum` |
The base class of all enum types. See Enums. |

`System.Array` |
The base class of all array types. See Arrays. |

`System.Delegate` |
The base class of all delegate types. See Delegates. |

`System.Exception` |
The base class of all exception types. See Exceptions. |

### The object type

The `object`

class type is the ultimate base class of all other types. Every type in C# directly or indirectly derives from the `object`

class type.

The keyword `object`

is simply an alias for the predefined class `System.Object`

.

### The dynamic type

The `dynamic`

type, like `object`

, can reference any object. When operators are applied to expressions of type `dynamic`

, their resolution is deferred until the program is run. Thus, if the operator cannot legally be applied to the referenced object, no error is given during compilation. Instead an exception will be thrown when resolution of the operator fails at run-time.

Its purpose is to allow dynamic binding, which is described in detail in Dynamic binding.

`dynamic`

is considered identical to `object`

except in the following respects:

- Operations on expressions of type
`dynamic`

can be dynamically bound (Dynamic binding). - Type inference (Type inference) will prefer
`dynamic`

over`object`

if both are candidates.

Because of this equivalence, the following holds:

- There is an implicit identity conversion between
`object`

and`dynamic`

, and between constructed types that are the same when replacing`dynamic`

with`object`

- Implicit and explicit conversions to and from
`object`

also apply to and from`dynamic`

. - Method signatures that are the same when replacing
`dynamic`

with`object`

are considered the same signature - The type
`dynamic`

is indistinguishable from`object`

at run-time. - An expression of the type
`dynamic`

is referred to as a.**dynamic expression**

### The string type

The `string`

type is a sealed class type that inherits directly from `object`

. Instances of the `string`

class represent Unicode character strings.

Values of the `string`

type can be written as string literals (String literals).

The keyword `string`

is simply an alias for the predefined class `System.String`

.

### Interface types

An interface defines a contract. A class or struct that implements an interface must adhere to its contract. An interface may inherit from multiple base interfaces, and a class or struct may implement multiple interfaces.

Interface types are described in Interfaces.

### Array types

An array is a data structure that contains zero or more variables which are accessed through computed indices. The variables contained in an array, also called the elements of the array, are all of the same type, and this type is called the element type of the array.

Array types are described in Arrays.

### Delegate types

A delegate is a data structure that refers to one or more methods. For instance methods, it also refers to their corresponding object instances.

The closest equivalent of a delegate in C or C++ is a function pointer, but whereas a function pointer can only reference static functions, a delegate can reference both static and instance methods. In the latter case, the delegate stores not only a reference to the method's entry point, but also a reference to the object instance on which to invoke the method.

Delegate types are described in Delegates.

## Boxing and unboxing

The concept of boxing and unboxing is central to C#'s type system. It provides a bridge between *value_type*s and *reference_type*s by permitting any value of a *value_type* to be converted to and from type `object`

. Boxing and unboxing enables a unified view of the type system wherein a value of any type can ultimately be treated as an object.

### Boxing conversions

A boxing conversion permits a *value_type* to be implicitly converted to a *reference_type*. The following boxing conversions exist:

- From any
*value_type*to the type`object`

. - From any
*value_type*to the type`System.ValueType`

. - From any
*non_nullable_value_type*to any*interface_type*implemented by the*value_type*. - From any
*nullable_type*to any*interface_type*implemented by the underlying type of the*nullable_type*. - From any
*enum_type*to the type`System.Enum`

. - From any
*nullable_type*with an underlying*enum_type*to the type`System.Enum`

. - Note that an implicit conversion from a type parameter will be executed as a boxing conversion if at run-time it ends up converting from a value type to a reference type (Implicit conversions involving type parameters).

Boxing a value of a *non_nullable_value_type* consists of allocating an object instance and copying the *non_nullable_value_type* value into that instance.

Boxing a value of a *nullable_type* produces a null reference if it is the `null`

value (`HasValue`

is `false`

), or the result of unwrapping and boxing the underlying value otherwise.

The actual process of boxing a value of a *non_nullable_value_type* is best explained by imagining the existence of a generic * boxing class*, which behaves as if it were declared as follows:

```
sealed class Box<T>: System.ValueType
{
T value;
public Box(T t) {
value = t;
}
}
```

Boxing of a value `v`

of type `T`

now consists of executing the expression `new Box<T>(v)`

, and returning the resulting instance as a value of type `object`

. Thus, the statements

```
int i = 123;
object box = i;
```

conceptually correspond to

```
int i = 123;
object box = new Box<int>(i);
```

A boxing class like `Box<T>`

above doesn't actually exist and the dynamic type of a boxed value isn't actually a class type. Instead, a boxed value of type `T`

has the dynamic type `T`

, and a dynamic type check using the `is`

operator can simply reference type `T`

. For example,

```
int i = 123;
object box = i;
if (box is int) {
Console.Write("Box contains an int");
}
```

will output the string "`Box contains an int`

" on the console.

A boxing conversion implies making a copy of the value being boxed. This is different from a conversion of a *reference_type* to type `object`

, in which the value continues to reference the same instance and simply is regarded as the less derived type `object`

. For example, given the declaration

```
struct Point
{
public int x, y;
public Point(int x, int y) {
this.x = x;
this.y = y;
}
}
```

the following statements

```
Point p = new Point(10, 10);
object box = p;
p.x = 20;
Console.Write(((Point)box).x);
```

will output the value 10 on the console because the implicit boxing operation that occurs in the assignment of `p`

to `box`

causes the value of `p`

to be copied. Had `Point`

been declared a `class`

instead, the value 20 would be output because `p`

and `box`

would reference the same instance.

### Unboxing conversions

An unboxing conversion permits a *reference_type* to be explicitly converted to a *value_type*. The following unboxing conversions exist:

- From the type
`object`

to any*value_type*. - From the type
`System.ValueType`

to any*value_type*. - From any
*interface_type*to any*non_nullable_value_type*that implements the*interface_type*. - From any
*interface_type*to any*nullable_type*whose underlying type implements the*interface_type*. - From the type
`System.Enum`

to any*enum_type*. - From the type
`System.Enum`

to any*nullable_type*with an underlying*enum_type*. - Note that an explicit conversion to a type parameter will be executed as an unboxing conversion if at run-time it ends up converting from a reference type to a value type (Explicit dynamic conversions).

An unboxing operation to a *non_nullable_value_type* consists of first checking that the object instance is a boxed value of the given *non_nullable_value_type*, and then copying the value out of the instance.

Unboxing to a *nullable_type* produces the null value of the *nullable_type* if the source operand is `null`

, or the wrapped result of unboxing the object instance to the underlying type of the *nullable_type* otherwise.

Referring to the imaginary boxing class described in the previous section, an unboxing conversion of an object `box`

to a *value_type* `T`

consists of executing the expression `((Box<T>)box).value`

. Thus, the statements

```
object box = 123;
int i = (int)box;
```

conceptually correspond to

```
object box = new Box<int>(123);
int i = ((Box<int>)box).value;
```

For an unboxing conversion to a given *non_nullable_value_type* to succeed at run-time, the value of the source operand must be a reference to a boxed value of that *non_nullable_value_type*. If the source operand is `null`

, a `System.NullReferenceException`

is thrown. If the source operand is a reference to an incompatible object, a `System.InvalidCastException`

is thrown.

For an unboxing conversion to a given *nullable_type* to succeed at run-time, the value of the source operand must be either `null`

or a reference to a boxed value of the underlying *non_nullable_value_type* of the *nullable_type*. If the source operand is a reference to an incompatible object, a `System.InvalidCastException`

is thrown.

## Constructed types

A generic type declaration, by itself, denotes an * unbound generic type* that is used as a "blueprint" to form many different types, by way of applying

*. The type arguments are written within angle brackets (*

**type arguments**`<`

and `>`

) immediately following the name of the generic type. A type that includes at least one type argument is called a *. A constructed type can be used in most places in the language in which a type name can appear. An unbound generic type can only be used within a*

**constructed type***typeof_expression*(The typeof operator).

Constructed types can also be used in expressions as simple names (Simple names) or when accessing a member (Member access).

When a *namespace_or_type_name* is evaluated, only generic types with the correct number of type parameters are considered. Thus, it is possible to use the same identifier to identify different types, as long as the types have different numbers of type parameters. This is useful when mixing generic and non-generic classes in the same program:

```
namespace Widgets
{
class Queue {...}
class Queue<TElement> {...}
}
namespace MyApplication
{
using Widgets;
class X
{
Queue q1; // Non-generic Widgets.Queue
Queue<int> q2; // Generic Widgets.Queue
}
}
```

A *type_name* might identify a constructed type even though it doesn't specify type parameters directly. This can occur where a type is nested within a generic class declaration, and the instance type of the containing declaration is implicitly used for name lookup (Nested types in generic classes):

```
class Outer<T>
{
public class Inner {...}
public Inner i; // Type of i is Outer<T>.Inner
}
```

In unsafe code, a constructed type cannot be used as an *unmanaged_type* (Pointer types).

### Type arguments

Each argument in a type argument list is simply a *type*.

```
type_argument_list
: '<' type_arguments '>'
;
type_arguments
: type_argument (',' type_argument)*
;
type_argument
: type
;
```

In unsafe code (Unsafe code), a *type_argument* may not be a pointer type. Each type argument must satisfy any constraints on the corresponding type parameter (Type parameter constraints).

### Open and closed types

All types can be classified as either * open types* or

*. An open type is a type that involves type parameters. More specifically:*

**closed types**- A type parameter defines an open type.
- An array type is an open type if and only if its element type is an open type.
- A constructed type is an open type if and only if one or more of its type arguments is an open type. A constructed nested type is an open type if and only if one or more of its type arguments or the type arguments of its containing type(s) is an open type.

A closed type is a type that is not an open type.

At run-time, all of the code within a generic type declaration is executed in the context of a closed constructed type that was created by applying type arguments to the generic declaration. Each type parameter within the generic type is bound to a particular run-time type. The run-time processing of all statements and expressions always occurs with closed types, and open types occur only during compile-time processing.

Each closed constructed type has its own set of static variables, which are not shared with any other closed constructed types. Since an open type does not exist at run-time, there are no static variables associated with an open type. Two closed constructed types are the same type if they are constructed from the same unbound generic type, and their corresponding type arguments are the same type.

### Bound and unbound types

The term * unbound type* refers to a non-generic type or an unbound generic type. The term

*refers to a non-generic type or a constructed type.*

**bound type**An unbound type refers to the entity declared by a type declaration. An unbound generic type is not itself a type, and cannot be used as the type of a variable, argument or return value, or as a base type. The only construct in which an unbound generic type can be referenced is the `typeof`

expression (The typeof operator).

### Satisfying constraints

Whenever a constructed type or generic method is referenced, the supplied type arguments are checked against the type parameter constraints declared on the generic type or method (Type parameter constraints). For each `where`

clause, the type argument `A`

that corresponds to the named type parameter is checked against each constraint as follows:

- If the constraint is a class type, an interface type, or a type parameter, let
`C`

represent that constraint with the supplied type arguments substituted for any type parameters that appear in the constraint. To satisfy the constraint, it must be the case that type`A`

is convertible to type`C`

by one of the following:- An identity conversion (Identity conversion)
- An implicit reference conversion (Implicit reference conversions)
- A boxing conversion (Boxing conversions), provided that type A is a non-nullable value type.
- An implicit reference, boxing or type parameter conversion from a type parameter
`A`

to`C`

.

- If the constraint is the reference type constraint (
`class`

), the type`A`

must satisfy one of the following:`A`

is an interface type, class type, delegate type or array type. Note that`System.ValueType`

and`System.Enum`

are reference types that satisfy this constraint.`A`

is a type parameter that is known to be a reference type (Type parameter constraints).

- If the constraint is the value type constraint (
`struct`

), the type`A`

must satisfy one of the following:`A`

is a struct type or enum type, but not a nullable type. Note that`System.ValueType`

and`System.Enum`

are reference types that do not satisfy this constraint.`A`

is a type parameter having the value type constraint (Type parameter constraints).

- If the constraint is the constructor constraint
`new()`

, the type`A`

must not be`abstract`

and must have a public parameterless constructor. This is satisfied if one of the following is true:`A`

is a value type, since all value types have a public default constructor (Default constructors).`A`

is a type parameter having the constructor constraint (Type parameter constraints).`A`

is a type parameter having the value type constraint (Type parameter constraints).`A`

is a class that is not`abstract`

and contains an explicitly declared`public`

constructor with no parameters.`A`

is not`abstract`

and has a default constructor (Default constructors).

A compile-time error occurs if one or more of a type parameter's constraints are not satisfied by the given type arguments.

Since type parameters are not inherited, constraints are never inherited either. In the example below, `D`

needs to specify the constraint on its type parameter `T`

so that `T`

satisfies the constraint imposed by the base class `B<T>`

. In contrast, class `E`

need not specify a constraint, because `List<T>`

implements `IEnumerable`

for any `T`

.

```
class B<T> where T: IEnumerable {...}
class D<T>: B<T> where T: IEnumerable {...}
class E<T>: B<List<T>> {...}
```

## Type parameters

A type parameter is an identifier designating a value type or reference type that the parameter is bound to at run-time.

```
type_parameter
: identifier
;
```

Since a type parameter can be instantiated with many different actual type arguments, type parameters have slightly different operations and restrictions than other types. These include:

- A type parameter cannot be used directly to declare a base class (Base class) or interface (Variant type parameter lists).
- The rules for member lookup on type parameters depend on the constraints, if any, applied to the type parameter. They are detailed in Member lookup.
- The available conversions for a type parameter depend on the constraints, if any, applied to the type parameter. They are detailed in Implicit conversions involving type parameters and Explicit dynamic conversions.
- The literal
`null`

cannot be converted to a type given by a type parameter, except if the type parameter is known to be a reference type (Implicit conversions involving type parameters). However, a`default`

expression (Default value expressions) can be used instead. In addition, a value with a type given by a type parameter can be compared with`null`

using`==`

and`!=`

(Reference type equality operators) unless the type parameter has the value type constraint. - A
`new`

expression (Object creation expressions) can only be used with a type parameter if the type parameter is constrained by a*constructor_constraint*or the value type constraint (Type parameter constraints). - A type parameter cannot be used anywhere within an attribute.
- A type parameter cannot be used in a member access (Member access) or type name (Namespace and type names) to identify a static member or a nested type.
- In unsafe code, a type parameter cannot be used as an
*unmanaged_type*(Pointer types).

As a type, type parameters are purely a compile-time construct. At run-time, each type parameter is bound to a run-time type that was specified by supplying a type argument to the generic type declaration. Thus, the type of a variable declared with a type parameter will, at run-time, be a closed constructed type (Open and closed types). The run-time execution of all statements and expressions involving type parameters uses the actual type that was supplied as the type argument for that parameter.

## Expression tree types

* Expression trees* permit lambda expressions to be represented as data structures instead of executable code. Expression trees are values of

*of the form*

**expression tree types**`System.Linq.Expressions.Expression<D>`

, where `D`

is any delegate type. For the remainder of this specification we will refer to these types using the shorthand `Expression<D>`

.If a conversion exists from a lambda expression to a delegate type `D`

, a conversion also exists to the expression tree type `Expression<D>`

. Whereas the conversion of a lambda expression to a delegate type generates a delegate that references executable code for the lambda expression, conversion to an expression tree type creates an expression tree representation of the lambda expression.

Expression trees are efficient in-memory data representations of lambda expressions and make the structure of the lambda expression transparent and explicit.

Just like a delegate type `D`

, `Expression<D>`

is said to have parameter and return types, which are the same as those of `D`

.

The following example represents a lambda expression both as executable code and as an expression tree. Because a conversion exists to `Func<int,int>`

, a conversion also exists to `Expression<Func<int,int>>`

:

```
Func<int,int> del = x => x + 1; // Code
Expression<Func<int,int>> exp = x => x + 1; // Data
```

Following these assignments, the delegate `del`

references a method that returns `x + 1`

, and the expression tree `exp`

references a data structure that describes the expression `x => x + 1`

.

The exact definition of the generic type `Expression<D>`

as well as the precise rules for constructing an expression tree when a lambda expression is converted to an expression tree type, are both outside the scope of this specification.

Two things are important to make explicit:

Not all lambda expressions can be converted to expression trees. For instance, lambda expressions with statement bodies, and lambda expressions containing assignment expressions cannot be represented. In these cases, a conversion still exists, but will fail at compile-time. These exceptions are detailed in Anonymous function conversions.

`Expression<D>`

offers an instance method`Compile`

which produces a delegate of type`D`

:`Func<int,int> del2 = exp.Compile();`

Invoking this delegate causes the code represented by the expression tree to be executed. Thus, given the definitions above, del and del2 are equivalent, and the following two statements will have the same effect:

`int i1 = del(1); int i2 = del2(1);`

After executing this code,

`i1`

and`i2`

will both have the value`2`

.

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