Thursday, June 14, 2007

"value type" and "reference type" in .Net + Concept + Example

Value Type and Reference Type Concept in .Net

A variable is value type or reference type is solely determined by its data type.
Eg: int, float, char, decimal, bool, decimal, struct, etc are value types, while object type such as class, String, Array, etc are reference type.

Value Type

1) As name suggest Value Type stores “value” directly.
2) For eg:
//I and J are both of type int
I = 20;
J = I;
int is a value type, which means that the above statements will results in two locations in memory.
3) For each instance of value type separate memory is allocated.
4) Stored in a Stack.
5) It Provides Quick Access, because of value located on stack.

Reference Type

1) As name suggest Reference Type stores “reference” to the value.
2) For eg:
Vector X, Y; //Object is defined. (No memory is allocated.)
X = new Vector(); //Memory is allocated to Object. //(new is responsible for allocating memory.)
X.value = 30; //Initialising value field in a vector class.
Y = X; //Both X and Y points to same memory location. //No memory is created for Y.
Console.writeline(Y.value); //displays 30, as both points to same memory
Y.value = 50;
Console.writeline(X.value); //displays 50.
Note: If a variable is reference it is possible to indicate that it does not refer to any object by setting its value to null;
3) Reference type are stored on Heap.
4) It provides comparatively slower access, as value located on heap.

The behavior of strings is different, strings are immutable (unchangeable) if we alter a strings value, we create an entirely new string), so strings don’t display the typical reference-type behavior. Any changes made to a string within a method call won’t affect the original string.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Any one could please provide more details on String reference behavior ?

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