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List<T>.BinarySearch Method (T)

Searches the entire sorted List<T> for an element using the default comparer and returns the zero-based index of the element.

Namespace:  System.Collections.Generic
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

public int BinarySearch(
	T item
)

Parameters

item
Type: T

The object to locate. The value can be null for reference types.

Return Value

Type: System.Int32
The zero-based index of item in the sorted List<T>, if item is found; otherwise, a negative number that is the bitwise complement of the index of the next element that is larger than item or, if there is no larger element, the bitwise complement of Count.

ExceptionCondition
InvalidOperationException

The default comparer Comparer<T>.Default cannot find an implementation of the IComparable<T> generic interface or the IComparable interface for type T.

This method uses the default comparer Comparer<T>.Default for type T to determine the order of list elements. The Comparer<T>.Default property checks whether type T implements the IComparable<T> generic interface and uses that implementation, if available. If not, Comparer<T>.Default checks whether type T implements the IComparable interface. If type T does not implement either interface, Comparer<T>.Default throws an InvalidOperationException.

The List<T> must already be sorted according to the comparer implementation; otherwise, the result is incorrect.

Comparing null with any reference type is allowed and does not generate an exception when using the IComparable<T> generic interface. When sorting, null is considered to be less than any other object.

If the List<T> contains more than one element with the same value, the method returns only one of the occurrences, and it might return any one of the occurrences, not necessarily the first one.

If the List<T> does not contain the specified value, the method returns a negative integer. You can apply the bitwise complement operation (~) to this negative integer to get the index of the first element that is larger than the search value. When inserting the value into the List<T>, this index should be used as the insertion point to maintain the sort order.

This method is an O(log n) operation, where n is the number of elements in the range.

The following code example demonstrates the Sort() method overload and the BinarySearch(T) method overload. A List<T> of strings is created and populated with four strings, in no particular order. The list is displayed, sorted, and displayed again.

The BinarySearch(T) method overload is then used to search for two strings that are not in the list, and the Insert method is used to insert them. The return value of the BinarySearch(T) method is negative in each case, because the strings are not in the list. Taking the bitwise complement (the ~ operator in C# and Visual C++, Xor -1 in Visual Basic) of this negative number produces the index of the first element in the list that is larger than the search string, and inserting at this location preserves the sort order. The second search string is larger than any element in the list, so the insertion position is at the end of the list.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Example
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        List<string> dinosaurs = new List<string>();

        dinosaurs.Add("Pachycephalosaurus");
        dinosaurs.Add("Amargasaurus");
        dinosaurs.Add("Mamenchisaurus");
        dinosaurs.Add("Deinonychus");

        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach(string dinosaur in dinosaurs)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(dinosaur);
        }

        Console.WriteLine("\nSort");
        dinosaurs.Sort();

        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach(string dinosaur in dinosaurs)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(dinosaur);
        }

        Console.WriteLine("\nBinarySearch and Insert \"Coelophysis\":");
        int index = dinosaurs.BinarySearch("Coelophysis");
        if (index < 0)
        {
            dinosaurs.Insert(~index, "Coelophysis");
        }

        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach(string dinosaur in dinosaurs)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(dinosaur);
        }

        Console.WriteLine("\nBinarySearch and Insert \"Tyrannosaurus\":");
        index = dinosaurs.BinarySearch("Tyrannosaurus");
        if (index < 0)
        {
            dinosaurs.Insert(~index, "Tyrannosaurus");
        }

        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach(string dinosaur in dinosaurs)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(dinosaur);
        }
    }
}

/* This code example produces the following output:

Pachycephalosaurus
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Deinonychus

Sort

Amargasaurus
Deinonychus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "Coelophysis":

Amargasaurus
Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "Tyrannosaurus":

Amargasaurus
Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus
Tyrannosaurus
 */

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Starter Edition, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Xbox 360, Zune

The .NET Framework and .NET Compact Framework do not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 2.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.0

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