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C#

Definite assignment


At a given location in the executable code of a function member, a variable is said to be definitely assigned if the compiler can prove, by a particular static flow analysis , that the variable has been automatically initialized or has been the target of at least one assignment. Informally stated, the rules of definite assignment are:

  • An initially assigned variable is always considered definitely assigned.

  • An initially unassigned variable is considered definitely assigned at a given location if all possible execution paths leading to that location contain at least one of the following:

  • A simple assignment in which the variable is the left operand.

  • An invocation expression or object creation expression that passes the variable as an output parameter.

  • For a local variable, a local variable declaration that includes a variable initializer.

The formal specification underlying the above informal rules is described in §5.3.1, §5.3.2, and §5.3.3.

The definite assignment states of instance variables of a struct-type variable are tracked individually as well as collectively. In additional to the rules above, the following rules apply to struct-type variables and their instance variables:

  • An instance variable is considered definitely assigned if its containing struct-type variable is considered definitely assigned.

  • A struct-type variable is considered definitely assigned if each of its instance variables is considered definitely assigned.

Definite assignment is a requirement in the following contexts:

  • A variable must be definitely assigned at each location where its value is obtained. This ensures that undefined values never occur. The occurrence of a variable in an expression is considered to obtain the value of the variable, except when

  • the variable is the left operand of a simple assignment,

  • the variable is passed as an output parameter, or

  • the variable is a struct-type variable and occurs as the left operand of a member access.

  • A variable must be definitely assigned at each location where it is passed as a reference parameter. This ensures that the function member being invoked can consider the reference parameter initially assigned.

  • All output parameters of a function member must be definitely assigned at each location where the function member returns (through a return statement or through execution reaching the end of the function member body). This ensures that function members do not return undefined values in output parameters, thus enabling the compiler to consider a function member invocation that takes a variable as an output parameter equivalent to an assignment to the variable.

  • The this variable of a struct-type instance constructor must be definitely assigned at each location where that instance constructor returns.

      1. Initially assigned variables

The following categories of variables are classified as initially assigned:

  • Static variables.

  • Instance variables of class instances.

  • Instance variables of initially assigned struct variables.

  • Array elements.

  • Value parameters.

  • Reference parameters.

  • Variables declared in a catch clause or a foreach statement.

      1. Initially unassigned variables

The following categories of variables are classified as initially unassigned:

  • Instance variables of initially unassigned struct variables.

  • Output parameters, including the this variable of struct instance constructors.

  • Local variables, except those declared in a catch clause or a foreach statement.

      1. Precise rules for determining definite assignment

In order to determine that each used variable is definitely assigned, the compiler must use a process that is equivalent to the one described in this section.

The compiler processes the body of each function member that has one or more initially unassigned variables. For each initially unassigned variable v, the compiler determines a definite assignment state for v at each of the following points in the function member:

  • At the beginning of each statement

  • At the end point of each statement

  • On each arc which transfers control to another statement or to the end point of a statement

  • At the beginning of each expression

  • At the end of each expression

The definite assignment state of v can be either:

  • Definitely assigned. This indicates that on all possible control flows to this point, v has been assigned a value.

  • Not definitely assigned. For the state of a variable at the end of an expression of type bool, the state of a variable that isn’t definitely assigned may (but doesn’t necessarily) fall into one of the following sub-states:

  • Definitely assigned after true expression. This state indicates that v is definitely assigned if the boolean expression evaluated as true, but is not necessarily assigned if the boolean expression evaluated as false.

  • Definitely assigned after false expression. This state indicates that v is definitely assigned if the boolean expression evaluated as false, but is not necessarily assigned if the boolean expression evaluated as true.

The following rules govern how the state of a variable v is determined at each location.

        1. General rules for statements

  • v is not definitely assigned at the beginning of a function member body.

  • v is definitely assigned at the beginning of any unreachable statement.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of any other statement is determined by checking the definite assignment state of v on all control flow transfers that target the beginning of that statement. If (and only if) v is definitely assigned on all such control flow transfers, then v is definitely assigned at the beginning of the statement. The set of possible control flow transfers is determined in the same way as for checking statement reachability .

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end point of a block, checked, unchecked, if, while, do, for, foreach, lock, using, or switch statement is determined by checking the definite assignment state of v on all control flow transfers that target the end point of that statement. If v is definitely assigned on all such control flow transfers, then v is definitely assigned at the end point of the statement. Otherwise; v is not definitely assigned at the end point of the statement. The set of possible control flow transfers is determined in the same way as for checking statement reachability .

        1. Block statements, checked, and unchecked statements

The definite assignment state of v on the control transfer to the first statement of the statement list in the block (or to the end point of the block, if the statement list is empty) is the same as the definite assignment statement of v before the block, checked, or unchecked statement.

        1. Expression statements

For an expression statement stmt that consists of the expression expr:

  • v has the same definite assignment state at the beginning of expr as at the beginning of stmt.

  • If v if definitely assigned at the end of expr, it is definitely assigned at the end point of stmt; otherwise; it is not definitely assigned at the end point of stmt.

        1. Declaration statements

  • If stmt is a declaration statement without initializers, then v has the same definite assignment state at the end point of stmt as at the beginning of stmt.

  • If stmt is a declaration statement with initializers, then the definite assignment state for v is determined as if stmt were a statement list, with one assignment statement for each declaration with an initializer (in the order of declaration).

        1. If statements

For an if statement stmt of the form:

if ( expr ) then-stmt else else-stmt

  • v has the same definite assignment state at the beginning of expr as at the beginning of stmt.

  • If v is definitely assigned at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to then-stmt and to either else-stmt or to the end-point of stmt if there is no else clause.

  • If v has the state “definitely assigned after true expression” at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to then-stmt, and not definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to either else-stmt or to the end-point of stmt if there is no else clause.

  • If v has the state “definitely assigned after false expression” at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to else-stmt, and not definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to then-stmt. It is definitely assigned at the end-point of stmt if and only if it is definitely assigned at the end-point of then-stmt.

  • Otherwise, v is considered not definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to either the then-stmt or else-stmt, or to the end-point of stmt if there is no else clause.

        1. Switch statements

In a switch statement stmt with a controlling expression expr:

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v on the control flow transfer to a reachable switch block statement list is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the end of expr.

        1. While statements

For a while statement stmt of the form:

while ( expr ) while-body

  • v has the same definite assignment state at the beginning of expr as at the beginning of stmt.

  • If v is definitely assigned at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to while-body and to the end point of stmt.

  • If v has the state “definitely assigned after true expression” at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to while-body, but not definitely assigned at the end-point of stmt.

  • If v has the state “definitely assigned after false expression” at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to the end point of stmt, but not definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to while-body.

        1. Do statements

For a do statement stmt of the form:

do do-body while ( expr ) ;

  • v has the same definite assignment state on the control flow transfer from the beginning of stmt to do-body as at the beginning of stmt.

  • v has the same definite assignment state at the beginning of expr as at the end point of do-body.

  • If v is definitely assigned at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to the end point of stmt.

  • If v has the state “definitely assigned after false expression” at the end of expr, then it is definitely assigned on the control flow transfer to the end point of stmt.

        1. For statements

Definite assignment checking for a for statement of the form:

for ( for-initializer ; for-condition ; for-iterator ) embedded-statement

is done as if the statement were written:

{
for-initializer ;
while ( for-condition ) {
embedded-statement ;
for-iterator ;
}
}

If the for-condition is omitted from the for statement, then evaluation of definite assignment proceeds as if for-condition were replaced with true in the above expansion.

        1. Break, continue, and goto statements

The definite assignment state of v on the control flow transfer caused by a break, continue, or goto statement is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of the statement.

        1. Throw statements

For a statement stmt of the form

throw expr ;

The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

        1. Return statements

For a statement stmt of the form

return expr ;

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • If v is an output parameter, then it must be definitely assigned either:

  • after expr

  • or at the end of the finally block of a try-finally or try-catch-finally that encloses the return statement.

For a statement stmt of the form:

return ;

  • If v is an output parameter, then it must be definitely assigned either:

  • before stmt

  • or at the end of the finally block of a try-finally or try-catch-finally that encloses the return statement.

        1. Try-catch statements

For a statement stmt of the form:

try try-block
catch(...) catch-block-1
...
catch(...) catch-block-n

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of try-block is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of catch-block-i (for any i) is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end-point of stmt is definitely assigned if (and only if) v is definitely assigned at the end-point of try-block and every catch-block-i (for every i from 1 to n).

        1. Try-finally statements

For a try statement stmt of the form:

try try-block finally finally-block

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of try-block is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of finally-block is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end-point of stmt is definitely assigned if (and only if) at least one of the following is true:

  • v is definitely assigned at the end-point of try-block

  • v is definitely assigned at the end-point of finally-block

If a control flow transfer (for example, a goto statement) is made that begins within try-block, and ends outside of try-block, then v is also considered definitely assigned on that control flow transfer if v is definitely assigned at the end-point of finally-block. (This is not an only if—if v is definitely assigned for another reason on this control flow transfer, then it is still considered definitely assigned.)

        1. Try-catch-finally statements

Definite assignment analysis for a try-catch-finally statement of the form:

try try-block
catch(...) catch-block-1
...
catch(...) catch-block-n
finally finally-block

is done as if the statement were a try-finally statement enclosing a try-catch statement:

try {
try try-block
catch(...) catch-block-1
...
catch(...) catch-block-n
}
finally finally-block

The following example demonstrates how the different blocks of a try statement affect definite assignment.

class A
{
static void F() {
int i, j;
try {
goto LABEL;
// neither i nor j definitely assigned
i = 1;
// i definitely assigned
}

catch {
// neither i nor j definitely assigned
i = 3;
// i definitely assigned
}

finally {
// neither i nor j definitely assigned
j = 5;
// j definitely assigned
}
// i and j definitely assigned
LABEL:;
// j definitely assigned

}
}

        1. Foreach statements

For a foreach statement stmt of the form:

foreach ( type identifier in expr ) embedded-statement

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v on the control flow transfer to embedded-statement or to the end point of stmt is the same as the state of v at the end of expr.

        1. Using statements

For a using statement stmt of the form:

using ( resource-acquisition ) embedded-statement

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of resource-acquisition is the same as the state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v on the control flow transfer to embedded-statement is the same as the state of v at the end of resource-acquisition.

        1. Lock statements

For a lock statement stmt of the form:

lock ( expr ) embedded-statement

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v on the control flow transfer to embedded-statement is the same as the state of v at the end of expr.

        1. Yield statements

For a yield return statement stmt of the form:

yield return expr ;

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr is the same as the state of v at the beginning of stmt.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end of stmt is the same as the state of v at the end of expr.

A yield break statement has no effect on the definite assignment state.

        1. General rules for simple expressions

The following rule applies to these kinds of expressions: literals , simple names , member access expressions , non-indexed base access expressions , typeof expressions , and default value expressions .

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end of such an expression is the same as the definite assignment state of v at the beginning of the expression.

        1. General rules for expressions with embedded expressions

The following rules apply to these kinds of expressions: parenthesized expressions , element access expressions , base access expressions with indexing , increment and decrement expressions , cast expressions , unary +, -, ~, * expressions, binary +, -, *, /, %, <<, >>, <, <=, >, >=, ==, !=, is, as, &, |, ^ expressions , compound assignment expressions , checked and unchecked expressions , plus array and delegate creation expressions .

Each of these expressions has one or more sub-expressions that are unconditionally evaluated in a fixed order. For example, the binary % operator evaluates the left hand side of the operator, then the right hand side. An indexing operation evaluates the indexed expression, and then evaluates each of the index expressions, in order from left to right. For an expression expr, which has sub-expressions expr1, expr2, ..., exprn, evaluated in that order:

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expr1 is the same as the definite assignment state at the beginning of expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the beginning of expri (i greater than one) is the same as the definite assignment state at the end of expri-1.

  • The definite assignment state of v at the end of expr is the same as the definite assignment state at the end of exprn.

        1. Invocation expressions and object creation expressions

For an invocation expression expr of the form:

primary-expression ( arg1 , arg2 , … , argn )

or an object creation expression of the form:

new type ( arg1 , arg2 , … , argn )

  • For an invocation expression, the definite assignment state of v before primary-expression is the same as the state of v before expr.

  • For an invocation expression, the definite assignment state of v before arg1 is the same as the state of v after primary-expression.

  • For an object creation expression, the definite assignment state of v before arg1 is the same as the state of v before expr.

  • For each argument argi, the definite assignment state of v after argi is determined by the normal expression rules, ignoring any ref or out modifiers.

  • For each argument argi for any i greater than one, the definite assignment state of v before argi is the same as the state of v after argi-1.

  • If the variable v is passed as an out argument (i.e., an argument of the form “out v”) in any of the arguments, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned. Otherwise; the state of v after expr is the same as the state of v after argn.

  • For array initializers , object initializers , collection initializers and anonymous object initializers , the definite assignment state is determined by the expansion that these constructs are defined in terms of.

        1. Simple assignment expressions

For an expression expr of the form w = expr-rhs:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-rhs is the same as the definite assignment state of v before expr.

  • If w is the same variable as v, then the definite assignment state of v after expr is definitely assigned. Otherwise, the definite assignment state of v after expr is the same as the definite assignment state of v after expr-rhs.

        1. && expressions

For an expression expr of the form expr-first && expr-second:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-first is the same as the definite assignment state of v before expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-second is definitely assigned if the state of v after expr-first is either definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after true expression”. Otherwise, it is not definitely assigned.

  • The definite assignment state of v after expr is determined by:

  • If the state of v after expr-first is definitely assigned, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-second is definitely assigned, and the state of v after expr-first is “definitely assigned after false expression”, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-second is definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after true expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after true expression”.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-first is “definitely assigned after false expression”, and the state of v after expr-second is “definitely assigned after false expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after false expression”.

  • Otherwise, the state of v after expr is not definitely assigned.

In the example

class A
{
static void F(int x, int y) {
int i;
if (x >= 0 && (i = y) >= 0) {
// i definitely assigned
}
else {
// i not definitely assigned
}
// i not definitely assigned
}
}

the variable i is considered definitely assigned in one of the embedded statements of an if statement but not in the other. In the if statement in method F, the variable i is definitely assigned in the first embedded statement because execution of the expression (i = y) always precedes execution of this embedded statement. In contrast, the variable i is not definitely assigned in the second embedded statement, since x >= 0 might have tested false, resulting in the variable i being unassigned.

        1. || expressions

For an expression expr of the form expr-first || expr-second:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-first is the same as the definite assignment state of v before expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-second is definitely assigned if the state of v after expr-first is either definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after false expression”. Otherwise, it is not definitely assigned.

  • The definite assignment statement of v after expr is determined by:

  • If the state of v after expr-first is definitely assigned, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-second is definitely assigned, and the state of v after expr-first is “definitely assigned after true expression”, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-second is definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after false expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after false expression”.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-first is “definitely assigned after true expression”, and the state of v after expr-second is “definitely assigned after true expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after true expression”.

  • Otherwise, the state of v after expr is not definitely assigned.

In the example

class A
{
static void G(int x, int y) {
int i;
if (x >= 0 || (i = y) >= 0) {
// i not definitely assigned
}
else {
// i definitely assigned
}
// i not definitely assigned
}
}

the variable i is considered definitely assigned in one of the embedded statements of an if statement but not in the other. In the if statement in method G, the variable i is definitely assigned in the second embedded statement because execution of the expression (i = y) always precedes execution of this embedded statement. In contrast, the variable i is not definitely assigned in the first embedded statement, since x >= 0 might have tested true, resulting in the variable i being unassigned.

        1. ! expressions

For an expression expr of the form ! expr-operand:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-operand is the same as the definite assignment state of v before expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v after expr is determined by:

  • If the state of v after expr-operand is definitely assigned, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • If the state of v after expr-operand is not definitely assigned, then the state of v after expr is not definitely assigned.

  • If the state of v after expr-operand is “definitely assigned after false expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after true expression”.

  • If the state of v after expr-operand is “definitely assigned after true expression”, then the state of v after expr is “definitely assigned after false expression”.

        1. ?? expressions

For an expression expr of the form expr-first ?? expr-second:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-first is the same as the definite assignment state of v before expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-second is the same as the definite assignment state of v after expr-first.

  • The definite assignment statement of v after expr is determined by:

  • If expr-first is a constant expression with value null, then the the state of v after expr is the same as the state of v after expr-second.

  • Otherwise, the state of v after expr is the same as the definite assignment state of v after expr-first.

        1. ?: expressions

For an expression expr of the form expr-cond ? expr-true : expr-false:

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-cond is the same as the state of v before expr.

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-true is definitely assigned if and only if the state of v after expr-cond is definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after true expression”.

  • The definite assignment state of v before expr-false is definitely assigned if and only if the state of v after expr-cond is definitely assigned or “definitely assigned after false expression”.

  • The definite assignment state of v after expr is determined by:

  • If expr-cond is a constant expression with value true then the state of v after expr is the same as the state of v after expr-true.

  • Otherwise, if expr-cond is a constant expression with value false then the state of v after expr is the same as the state of v after expr-false.

  • Otherwise, if the state of v after expr-true is definitely assigned and the state of v after expr-false is definitely assigned, then the state of v after expr is definitely assigned.

  • Otherwise, the state of v after expr is not definitely assigned.

        1. Anonymous functions

For a lambda-expression or anonymous-method-expression expr with a body (either block or expression) body:

  • The definite assignment state of an outer variable v before body is the same as the state of v before expr. That is, definite assignment state of outer variables is inherited from the context of the anonymous function.

  • The definite assignment state of an outer variable v after expr is the same as the state of v before expr.

The example

delegate bool Filter(int i);

void F() {
int max;

// Error, max is not definitely assigned
Filter f = (int n) => n < max;

max = 5;
DoWork(f);
}

generates a compile-time error since max is not definitely assigned where the anonymous function is declared. The example

delegate void D();

void F() {
int n;
D d = () => { n = 1; };

d();

// Error, n is not definitely assigned
Console.WriteLine(n);
}

also generates a compile-time error since the assignment to n in the anonymous function has no affect on the definite assignment state of n outside the anonymous function.





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