group clause (C# Reference)

The group clause returns a sequence of IGrouping<TKey, TElement> objects that contain zero or more items that match the key value for the group. For example, you can group a sequence of strings according to the first letter in each string. In this case, the first letter is the key and has a type char, and is stored in the Key property of each IGrouping<TKey, TElement> object. The compiler infers the type of the key.

You can end a query expression with a group clause, as shown in the following example:


// Query variable is an IEnumerable<IGrouping<char, Student>>
var studentQuery1 =
    from student in students
    group student by student.Last[0];


If you want to perform additional query operations on each group, you can specify a temporary identifier by using the into contextual keyword. When you use into, you must continue with the query, and eventually end it with either a select statement or another group clause, as shown in the following excerpt:


// Group students by the first letter of their last name
// Query variable is an IEnumerable<IGrouping<char, Student>>
var studentQuery2 =
    from student in students
    group student by student.Last[0] into g
    orderby g.Key
    select g;


More complete examples of the use of group with and without into are provided in the Example section of this topic.

Because the IGrouping<TKey, TElement> objects produced by a group query are essentially a list of lists, you must use a nested foreach loop to access the items in each group. The outer loop iterates over the group keys, and the inner loop iterates over each item in the group itself. A group may have a key but no elements. The following is the foreach loop that executes the query in the previous code examples:


// Iterate group items with a nested foreach. This IGrouping encapsulates
// a sequence of Student objects, and a Key of type char.
// For convenience, var can also be used in the foreach statement.
foreach (IGrouping<char, Student> studentGroup in studentQuery2)
{
     Console.WriteLine(studentGroup.Key);
     // Explicit type for student could also be used here.
     foreach (var student in studentGroup)
     {
         Console.WriteLine("   {0}, {1}", student.Last, student.First);
     }
 }


Group keys can be any type, such as a string, a built-in numeric type, or a user-defined named type or anonymous type.

Grouping by string

The previous code examples used a char. A string key could easily have been specified instead, for example the complete last name:


// Same as previous example except we use the entire last name as a key.
// Query variable is an IEnumerable<IGrouping<string, Student>>
 var studentQuery3 =
     from student in students
     group student by student.Last;


Grouping by bool

The following example shows the use of a bool value for a key to divide the results into two groups. Note that the value is produced by a sub-expression in the group clause.


class GroupSample1
{
    // The element type of the data source.
    public class Student
    {
        public string First { get; set; }
        public string Last { get; set; }
        public int ID { get; set; }
        public List<int> Scores;
    }

    public static List<Student> GetStudents()
    {
        // Use a collection initializer to create the data source. Note that each element
        //  in the list contains an inner sequence of scores.
        List<Student> students = new List<Student>
        {
           new Student {First="Svetlana", Last="Omelchenko", ID=111, Scores= new List<int> {97, 72, 81, 60}},
           new Student {First="Claire", Last="O'Donnell", ID=112, Scores= new List<int> {75, 84, 91, 39}},
           new Student {First="Sven", Last="Mortensen", ID=113, Scores= new List<int> {99, 89, 91, 95}},
           new Student {First="Cesar", Last="Garcia", ID=114, Scores= new List<int> {72, 81, 65, 84}},
           new Student {First="Debra", Last="Garcia", ID=115, Scores= new List<int> {97, 89, 85, 82}} 
        };

        return students;

    }

    static void Main()
    {
        // Obtain the data source.
        List<Student> students = GetStudents();

        // Group by true or false.
        // Query variable is an IEnumerable<IGrouping<bool, Student>>
        var booleanGroupQuery =
            from student in students
            group student by student.Scores.Average() >= 80; //pass or fail!

        // Execute the query and access items in each group
        foreach (var studentGroup in booleanGroupQuery)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(studentGroup.Key == true ? "High averages" : "Low averages");
            foreach (var student in studentGroup)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("   {0}, {1}:{2}", student.Last, student.First, student.Scores.Average());
            }
        }

        // Keep the console window open in debug mode.
        Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
        Console.ReadKey();
    }
}
/* Output:
  Low averages
   Omelchenko, Svetlana:77.5
   O'Donnell, Claire:72.25
   Garcia, Cesar:75.5
  High averages
   Mortensen, Sven:93.5
   Garcia, Debra:88.25
*/


Grouping by numeric range

The next example uses an expression to create numeric group keys that represent a percentile range. Note the use of let as a convenient location to store a method call result, so that you do not have to call the method two times in the group clause. Note also in the group clause that to avoid a "divide by zero" exception the code checks to make sure that the student does not have an average of zero. For more information about how to safely use methods in query expressions, see How to: Handle Exceptions in Query Expressions (C# Programming Guide).


class GroupSample2
{
    // The element type of the data source.
    public class Student
    {
        public string First { get; set; }
        public string Last { get; set; }
        public int ID { get; set; }
        public List<int> Scores;
    }

    public static List<Student> GetStudents()
    {
        // Use a collection initializer to create the data source. Note that each element
        //  in the list contains an inner sequence of scores.
        List<Student> students = new List<Student>
        {
           new Student {First="Svetlana", Last="Omelchenko", ID=111, Scores= new List<int> {97, 72, 81, 60}},
           new Student {First="Claire", Last="O'Donnell", ID=112, Scores= new List<int> {75, 84, 91, 39}},
           new Student {First="Sven", Last="Mortensen", ID=113, Scores= new List<int> {99, 89, 91, 95}},
           new Student {First="Cesar", Last="Garcia", ID=114, Scores= new List<int> {72, 81, 65, 84}},
           new Student {First="Debra", Last="Garcia", ID=115, Scores= new List<int> {97, 89, 85, 82}} 
        };

        return students;

    }

    // This method groups students into percentile ranges based on their
    // grade average. The Average method returns a double, so to produce a whole
    // number it is necessary to cast to int before dividing by 10. 
    static void Main()
    {
        // Obtain the data source.
        List<Student> students = GetStudents();

        // Write the query.
        var studentQuery =
            from student in students
            let avg = (int)student.Scores.Average()
            group student by (avg == 0 ? 0 : avg / 10) into g
            orderby g.Key
            select g;            

        // Execute the query.
        foreach (var studentGroup in studentQuery)
        {
            int temp = studentGroup.Key * 10;
            Console.WriteLine("Students with an average between {0} and {1}", temp, temp + 10);
            foreach (var student in studentGroup)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("   {0}, {1}:{2}", student.Last, student.First, student.Scores.Average());
            }
        }

        // Keep the console window open in debug mode.
        Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
        Console.ReadKey();
    }
}
/* Output:
     Students with an average between 70 and 80
       Omelchenko, Svetlana:77.5
       O'Donnell, Claire:72.25
       Garcia, Cesar:75.5
     Students with an average between 80 and 90
       Garcia, Debra:88.25
     Students with an average between 90 and 100
       Mortensen, Sven:93.5
 */


Grouping by Composite Keys

Use a composite key when you want to group elements according to more than one key. You create a composite key by using an anonymous type or a named type to hold the key element. In the following example, assume that a class Person has been declared with members named surname and city. The group clause causes a separate group to be created for each set of persons with the same last name and the same city.

group person by new {name = person.surname, city = person.city};

Use a named type if you must pass the query variable to another method. Create a special class using auto-implemented properties for the keys, and then override the Equals and GetHashCode methods. You can also use a struct, in which case you do not strictly have to override those methods. For more information see How to: Implement a Lightweight Class with Auto-Implemented Properties (C# Programming Guide) and How to: Query for Duplicate Files in a Directory Tree (LINQ). The latter topic has a code example that demonstrates how to use a composite key with a named type.

The following example shows the standard pattern for ordering source data into groups when no additional query logic is applied to the groups. This is called a grouping without a continuation. The elements in an array of strings are grouped according to their first letter. The result of the query is an IGrouping<TKey, TElement> type that contains a public Key property of type char and an IEnumerable<T> collection that contains each item in the grouping.

The result of a group clause is a sequence of sequences. Therefore, to access the individual elements within each returned group, use a nested foreach loop inside the loop that iterates the group keys, as shown in the following example.


class GroupExample1
{
    static void Main()
    {
        // Create a data source.
        string[] words = { "blueberry", "chimpanzee", "abacus", "banana", "apple", "cheese" };

        // Create the query.
        var wordGroups =
            from w in words
            group w by w[0];

        // Execute the query.
        foreach (var wordGroup in wordGroups)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Words that start with the letter '{0}':", wordGroup.Key);
            foreach (var word in wordGroup)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(word);
            }
        }

        // Keep the console window open in debug mode
        Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
        Console.ReadKey();
    }        
}
/* Output:
      Words that start with the letter 'b':
        blueberry
        banana
      Words that start with the letter 'c':
        chimpanzee
        cheese
      Words that start with the letter 'a':
        abacus
        apple
     */


This example shows how to perform additional logic on the groups after you have created them, by using a continuation with into. For more information, see into (C# Reference). The following example queries each group to select only those whose key value is a vowel.


class GroupClauseExample2
{
    static void Main()
    {
        // Create the data source.
        string[] words2 = { "blueberry", "chimpanzee", "abacus", "banana", "apple", "cheese", "elephant", "umbrella", "anteater" };

        // Create the query.
        var wordGroups2 =
            from w in words2
            group w by w[0] into grps
            where (grps.Key == 'a' || grps.Key == 'e' || grps.Key == 'i'
                   || grps.Key == 'o' || grps.Key == 'u')
            select grps;

        // Execute the query.
        foreach (var wordGroup in wordGroups2)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Groups that start with a vowel: {0}", wordGroup.Key);
            foreach (var word in wordGroup)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("   {0}", word);
            }
        }

        // Keep the console window open in debug mode
        Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
        Console.ReadKey();
    }
}
/* Output:
    Groups that start with a vowel: a
        abacus
        apple
        anteater
    Groups that start with a vowel: e
        elephant
    Groups that start with a vowel: u
        umbrella
*/    


At compile time, group clauses are translated into calls to the GroupBy method.

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