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Generics in C#

C# Generics

Generics allow you to define the specification of the data type of programming elements in a class or a method, until it is actually used in the program. In other words, generics allow you to write a class or method that can work with any data type.

You write the specifications for the class or the method, with substitute parameters for data types. When the compiler encounters a constructor for the class or a function call for the method, it generates code to handle the specific data type. A simple example would help understanding the concept −

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace GenericApplication {
   public class MyGenericArray {
      private T[] array;
      
      public MyGenericArray(int size) {
         array = new T[size + 1];
      }
      public T getItem(int index) {
         return array[index];
      }
      public void setItem(int index, T value) {
         array[index] = value;
      }
   }
   class Tester {
      static void Main(string[] args) {
         
         //declaring an int array
         MyGenericArray intArray = new MyGenericArray(5);
         
         //setting values
         for (int c = 0; c < 5; c++) {
            intArray.setItem(c, c*5);
         }
         
         //retrieving the values
         for (int c = 0; c < 5; c++) {
            Console.Write(intArray.getItem(c) + " ");
         }
         
         Console.WriteLine();
         
         //declaring a character array
         MyGenericArray charArray = new MyGenericArray(5);
         
         //setting values
         for (int c = 0; c < 5; c++) {
            charArray.setItem(c, (char)(c+97));
         }
         
         //retrieving the values
         for (int c = 0; c< 5; c++) {
            Console.Write(charArray.getItem(c) + " ");
         }
         Console.WriteLine();
         
         Console.ReadKey();
      }
   }
}

Output:

0 5 10 15 20
a b c d e

Generic Methods

In the previous example, we have used a generic class; we can declare a generic method with a type parameter. The following program illustrates the concept −

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace GenericMethodAppl {
   class Program {
      static void Swap(ref T lhs, ref T rhs) {
         T temp;
         temp = lhs;
         lhs = rhs;
         rhs = temp;
      }
      static void Main(string[] args) {
         int a, b;
         char c, d;
         a = 10;
         b = 20;
         c = 'I';
         d = 'V';
         
         //display values before swap:
         Console.WriteLine("Int values before calling swap:");
         Console.WriteLine("a = {0}, b = {1}", a, b);
         Console.WriteLine("Char values before calling swap:");
         Console.WriteLine("c = {0}, d = {1}", c, d);
         
         //call swap
         Swap(ref a, ref b);
         Swap(ref c, ref d);
         
         //display values after swap:
         Console.WriteLine("Int values after calling swap:");
         Console.WriteLine("a = {0}, b = {1}", a, b);
         Console.WriteLine("Char values after calling swap:");
         Console.WriteLine("c = {0}, d = {1}", c, d);
         
         Console.ReadKey();
      }
   }
}

Output

Int values before calling swap:
a = 10, b = 20
Char values before calling swap:
c = I, d = V
Int values after calling swap:
a = 20, b = 10
Char values after calling swap:
c = V, d = I

 

Task:

Generic are a very efficient way to handle multiple datatypes using a single method. This problem will test your knowledge on C# Generics .

Let’s say you have an integer array and a string array. You have to write a single method printArray that can print all the elements of both arrays. The method should be able to accept both integer arrays or string arrays.

You are given code in the editor. Complete the code so that it prints the following lines:

1
2
3
Hello
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