What are generics in C#?

Generics in C# provide a way to create reusable components and classes that can work with different types. They allow you to write code that is type-safe and can be used with various data types without sacrificing performance or maintainability.

Here are some key points about generics in C#:

  1. Type Parameterization:
    • Generics introduce type parameters, allowing you to define classes, methods, and interfaces that operate on one or more unspecified types.
    • Type parameters are specified within angle brackets (<>) following the name of the generic construct.
  2. Reusability:
    • Generics enable the creation of reusable code components, such as collections (List<T>, Dictionary<TKey, TValue>), algorithms, and data structures.
    • The same generic class or method can be used with different types, eliminating the need for duplication or code specialization.
  3. Type Safety:
    • Generics provide compile-time type safety, ensuring that the correct types are used at compile-time and reducing the likelihood of runtime errors.
    • This allows for better code correctness and avoids the need for runtime type checks or casting.
  4. Performance:
    • Generics enable the creation of strongly typed code, eliminating the performance overhead of boxing and unboxing operations when working with value types.
    • The compiler generates specialized versions of generic code for each type used, resulting in efficient execution without sacrificing type safety.
  5. Constraints:
    • Generic type parameters can be constrained to a specific set of types or interfaces using constraints.
    • Constraints allow you to define requirements for type parameters, such as implementing specific interfaces or having a default constructor.

Example usage of generics:

public class Stack<T>
{
    private T[] items;
    private int top;

    public Stack(int capacity)
    {
        items = new T[capacity];
        top = -1;
    }

    public void Push(T item)
    {
        items[++top] = item;
    }

    public T Pop()
    {
        return items[top--];
    }
}

In this example, a generic class Stack<T> is defined to represent a stack data structure. The type parameter T allows the stack to work with different data types. The Push and Pop methods can operate on any type specified when using the Stack class.

Generics provide flexibility, code reuse, and type safety in C#. By using generics, you can write more generic and reusable code, improve performance, and enhance the maintainability and correctness of your programs.

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