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4.1.4 Simple types

Visual Studio .NET 2003

C# provides a set of predefined struct types called the simple types. The simple types are identified through reserved words, but these reserved words are simply aliases for predefined struct types in the System namespace, as described in the table below.

Reserved word Aliased type
sbyte
System.SByte
byte
System.Byte
short
System.Int16
ushort
System.UInt16
int
System.Int32
uint
System.UInt32
long
System.Int64
ulong
System.UInt64
char
System.Char
float
System.Single
double
System.Double
bool
System.Boolean
decimal
System.Decimal

Because a simple type aliases a struct type, every simple type has members. For example, int has the members declared in System.Int32 and the members inherited from System.Object, and the following statements are permitted:

int i = int.MaxValue;         // System.Int32.MaxValue constant
string s = i.ToString();      // System.Int32.ToString() instance method
string t = 123.ToString();      // System.Int32.ToString() instance method

The simple types differ from other struct types in that they permit certain additional operations:

  • Most simple types permit values to be created by writing literals (Section 2.4.4). For example, 123 is a literal of type int and 'a' is a literal of type char. C# makes no provision for literals of struct types in general, and non-default values of other struct types are ultimately always created through instance constructors of those struct types.
  • When the operands of an expression are all simple type constants, it is possible for the compiler to evaluate the expression at compile-time. Such an expression is known as a constant-expression (Section 7.15). Expressions involving operators defined by other struct types are not considered to be constant expressions.
  • Through const declarations it is possible to declare constants of the simple types (Section 10.3). It is not possible to have constants of other struct types, but a similar effect is provided by static readonly fields.
  • Conversions involving simple types can participate in evaluation of conversion operators defined by other struct types, but a user-defined conversion operator can never participate in evaluation of another user-defined operator (Section 6.4.2).
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