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IComparable<T> Interface

Defines a generalized comparison method that a value type or class implements to create a type-specific comparison method for ordering instances.

Namespace:  System
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)
public interface IComparable<in T>

Type Parameters

in T

The type of objects to compare.

This type parameter is contravariant. That is, you can use either the type you specified or any type that is less derived. For more information about covariance and contravariance, see Covariance and Contravariance in Generics.

The IComparable<T> type exposes the following members.

  NameDescription
Public methodSupported by the XNA FrameworkSupported by Portable Class LibrarySupported in .NET for Windows Store appsCompareToCompares the current object with another object of the same type.
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This interface is implemented by types whose values can be ordered, primarily for sorting. For example, one number can be larger than a second number, and one string can appear in alphabetical order before another. A value type or class implements the CompareTo(T) method to create a type-specific comparison method suitable for purposes such as sorting.

The IComparable<T> interface defines the CompareTo(T) method, which determines the sort order of instances of the implementing type. The IEquatable<T> interface defines the Equals method, which determines the equality of instances of the implementing type.

The implementation of the CompareTo(T) method must return an Int32 that has one of three values, as shown in the following table.

Value

Meaning

Less than zero

This object is less than the object specified by the CompareTo method.

Zero

This object is equal to the method parameter.

Greater than zero

This object is greater than the method parameter.

The IComparable<T> interface provides a strongly typed comparison method for ordering members of a generic collection object. Because of this, it is usually not called directly from developer code. Instead, it is called automatically by methods such as List<T>.Sort() and Add.

Notes to Implementers

Replace the type parameter of the IComparable<T> interface with the type that is implementing this interface.

If you implement IComparable<T>, you should overload the op_GreaterThan, op_GreaterThanOrEqual, op_LessThan, and op_LessThanOrEqual operators to return values that are consistent with CompareTo. In addition, you should also implement IEquatable<T>. See the IEquatable<T> article for complete information.

The following code example illustrates the implementation of IComparable<T> for a simple Temperature object. The example creates a SortedList<TKey, TValue> collection of strings with Temperature object keys, and adds several pairs of temperatures and strings to the list out of sequence. In the call to the Add method, the SortedList<TKey, TValue> collection uses the IComparable<T> implementation to sort the list entries, which are then displayed in order of increasing temperature.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Temperature : IComparable<Temperature>
{
    // Implement the generic CompareTo method with the Temperature  
    // class as the Type parameter.  
    // 
    public int CompareTo(Temperature other)
    {
        // If other is not a valid object reference, this instance is greater. 
        if (other == null) return 1;

        // The temperature comparison depends on the comparison of  
        // the underlying Double values.  
        return m_value.CompareTo(other.m_value);
    }

    // The underlying temperature value. 
    protected double m_value = 0.0;

    public double Celsius    
    {
        get
        {
            return m_value - 273.15;
        }
    }

    public double Kelvin    
    {
        get
        {
            return m_value;
        }
        set
        {
            if (value < 0.0)
            {
                throw new ArgumentException("Temperature cannot be less than absolute zero.");
            }
            else
            {
                m_value = value;
            }
        }
    }

    public Temperature(double kelvins)
    {
        this.Kelvin = kelvins;
    }
}

public class Example
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        SortedList<Temperature, string> temps = 
            new SortedList<Temperature, string>();

        // Add entries to the sorted list, out of order.
        temps.Add(new Temperature(2017.15), "Boiling point of Lead");
        temps.Add(new Temperature(0), "Absolute zero");
        temps.Add(new Temperature(273.15), "Freezing point of water");
        temps.Add(new Temperature(5100.15), "Boiling point of Carbon");
        temps.Add(new Temperature(373.15), "Boiling point of water");
        temps.Add(new Temperature(600.65), "Melting point of Lead");

        foreach( KeyValuePair<Temperature, string> kvp in temps )
        {
            Console.WriteLine("{0} is {1} degrees Celsius.", kvp.Value, kvp.Key.Celsius);
        }
    }
}
/* This example displays the following output:
      Absolute zero is -273.15 degrees Celsius.
      Freezing point of water is 0 degrees Celsius.
      Boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius.
      Melting point of Lead is 327.5 degrees Celsius.
      Boiling point of Lead is 1744 degrees Celsius.
      Boiling point of Carbon is 4827 degrees Celsius.
*/

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4.5.1, 4.5, 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Portable Class Library

Supported in: Portable Class Library

.NET for Windows Store apps

Supported in: Windows 8

.NET for Windows Phone apps

Supported in: Windows Phone 8.1, Windows Phone 8, Silverlight 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core Role not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core Role supported with SP1 or later; Itanium not supported)

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

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