C# 3.0 Features Basics For LINQ PART II

Continuing from part 1, here I will go one more step further and explain the language constructs basics in C# 3.0 which will help us in writing a LINQ query.

Lambda Expression Explained

In C# 2.0 you can write anonymous delegate methods that helps in reducing the amount of code written. To explain this, first I will demonstrate a simple code snippet that searches for a Contact based on the FirstName field using predicates in C#2.0

   1:  class Contact {
   2:        private String _firstName;
   3:      /* other fields go here   */
   4:         public String FirstName {
   5:           get {
   6:              if(_firstName != null) {
   7:              return _firstName;
   8:                }
   9:                              }
  10:           set {
  11:           _firstName = value;
  12:            }
  13:          }
  14:    }
Now lets get all the contacts stored, the GetAllContacts() can also be a call to Data Access Layer to get the values
   1:  List <Contact> myContacts = GetAllContacts();

Next we will use System.Collection.List<T>.FindAll to search for the contact based on FirstName. The MSDN documentation has the following information on the FindAll method

Retrieves the all the elements that match the conditions defined by the specified predicate.



public List<T> FindAll (
	Predicate<T> match

The Predicate delegate that defines the conditions of the elements to search for.

Return Value

A List containing all the elements that match the conditions defined by the specified predicate, if found; otherwise, an empty List.

In our example :

   1:  List <Contact> contact = myContacts.FindAll( new Predicate<Contact> ( FirstNameFilter ) );
   3:  //definition for FirstNameFilter
   5:  static bool FirstNameFilter(Contact c) {
   6:      c.FirstName = "Bindesh";
   7:   }

Lets rewrite the code using C# 2.0 Anonymous method

   1:  List <Contact> contact = myContacts.FindAll( delegate(Contact c) { return c.FirstName = "Bindesh"} );
In the above code we have reduce the step to declare a method named FirstNameFilter through the introduction of anonynmous method. We will still further reduce the code by introducing Lambda expression
   1:  List <Contact> contact = myContacts.FindAll( c=>c.FirstName == "Bindesh");

So basically when when we have a lambda expression defined then we are inherently using delegates. Yes, I do agree that it takes a little while to get accustomed to this syntax, but for a good reason smile_regular
A lambda expression is of the format of :
(input parameter) => (statement);  //Called as statement lambda
(input parameter) => (expression);  //Called as expression lambda

The compiler will most of the times be able to infer the type of the input parameter and hence you need not specify one.
One important point that I want to mention here is that you can use lamda expression for custom defined delegates, if the lambda expression follows the rule i.e.
  • The lambda expression must contain same no. of parameters as defined in the delegate
  • The types of the parameter must be exactly/implicitly convertible to the corresponding delegate parameter
  • The return value of the lambda expression should be of the same type as the one mentioned in the delegate


Hope this gives you a basic idea of what is lamda expression and its evolution.  In my next blog I will explore more on extension methods, expression trees and queries.

catch you later ..




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