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Inline Functions (F#)

Inline functions are functions that are integrated directly into the calling code.

When you use static type parameters, any functions that are parameterized by type parameters must be inline. This guarantees that that the compiler can resolve these type parameters. When you use ordinary generic type parameters, there is no such restriction.

Other than enabling the use of member constraints, inline functions can be helpful in optimizing code. However, overuse of inline functions can cause your code to be less resistant to changes in compiler optimizations and the implementation of library functions. For this reason, you should avoid using inline functions for optimization unless you have tried all other optimization techniques. Making a function or method inline can sometimes improve performance, but that is not always the case. Therefore, you should also use performance measurements to verify that making any given function inline does in fact have a positive effect.

The inline modifier can be applied to functions at the top level, at the module level, or at the method level in a class.

The following code example illustrates an inline function at the top level, an inline instance method, and an inline static method.

let inline increment x = x + 1
type WrapInt32() =
    member inline this.incrementByOne(x) = x + 1
    static member inline Increment(x) = x + 1

The presence of inline affects type inference. This is because inline functions can have statically resolved type parameters, whereas non-inline functions cannot. The following code example shows a case where inline is helpful because you are using a function that has a statically resolved type parameter, the float conversion operator.

let inline printAsFloatingPoint number =
    printfn "%f" (float number)

Without the inline modifier, type inference forces the function to take a specific type, in this case int. But with the inline modifier, the function is also inferred to have a statically resolved type parameter. With the inline modifier, the type is inferred to be the following:

^a -> unit when ^a : (static member op_Explicit : ^a -> float)

This means that the function accepts any type that supports a conversion to float.

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