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Enum values and operations

Each enum type defines a distinct type; an explicit enumeration conversion is required to convert between an enum type and an integral type, or between two enum types. The set of values that an enum type can take on is not limited by its enum members. In particular, any value of the underlying type of an enum can be cast to the enum type, and is a distinct valid value of that enum type.

Enum members have the type of their containing enum type (except within other enum member initializers: see §14.3). The value of an enum member declared in enum type E with associated value v is (E)v.

The following operators can be used on values of enum types: ==, !=, <, >, <=, >= , binary + , binary ‑ , ^, &, | , ~ , ++, -- , and sizeof .

Every enum type automatically derives from the class System.Enum (which, in turn, derives from System.ValueType and object). Thus, inherited methods and properties of this class can be used on values of an enum type.

  1. Delegates

Delegates enable scenarios that other languages—such as C++, Pascal, and Modula—have addressed with function pointers. Unlike C++ function pointers, however, delegates are fully object oriented, and unlike C++ pointers to member functions, delegates encapsulate both an object instance and a method.

A delegate declaration defines a class that is derived from the class System.Delegate. A delegate instance encapsulates an invocation list, which is a list of one or more methods, each of which is referred to as a callable entity. For instance methods, a callable entity consists of an instance and a method on that instance. For static methods, a callable entity consists of just a method. Invoking a delegate instance with an appropriate set of arguments causes each of the delegate’s callable entities to be invoked with the given set of arguments.

An interesting and useful property of a delegate instance is that it does not know or care about the classes of the methods it encapsulates; all that matters is that those methods be compatible with the delegate’s type. This makes delegates perfectly suited for “anonymous” invocation.


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