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List<T>.BinarySearch Method (T, IComparer<T>)

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

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

public int BinarySearch(
	T item,
	IComparer<T> comparer
)

Parameters

item
Type: T

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

comparer
Type: System.Collections.Generic.IComparer<T>

The IComparer<T> implementation to use when comparing elements.

-or-

null to use the default comparer Comparer<T>.Default.

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

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

The comparer customizes how the elements are compared. For example, you can use a CaseInsensitiveComparer instance as the comparer to perform case-insensitive string searches.

If comparer is provided, the elements of the List<T> are compared to the specified value using the specified IComparer<T> implementation.

If comparer is null, the default comparer Comparer<T>.Default 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 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 example demonstrates the Sort(IComparer<T>) method overload and the BinarySearch(T, IComparer<T>) method overload.

The example defines an alternative comparer for strings named DinoCompare, which implements the IComparer<string> (IComparer(Of String) in Visual Basic, IComparer<String^> in Visual C++) generic interface. The comparer works as follows: First, the comparands are tested for null, and a null reference is treated as less than a non-null. Second, the string lengths are compared, and the longer string is deemed to be greater. Third, if the lengths are equal, ordinary string comparison is used.

A List<T> of strings is created and populated with four strings, in no particular order. The list is displayed, sorted using the alternate comparer, and displayed again.

The BinarySearch(T, IComparer<T>) method overload is then used to search for several strings that are not in the list, employing the alternate comparer. The Insert method is used to insert the strings. These two methods are located in the function named SearchAndInsert, along with code to take the bitwise complement (the ~ operator in C# and Visual C++, Xor -1 in Visual Basic) of the negative number returned by BinarySearch(T, IComparer<T>) and use it as an index for inserting the new string.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class DinoComparer: IComparer<string>
{
    public int Compare(string x, string y)
    {
        if (x == null)
        {
            if (y == null)
            {
                // If x is null and y is null, they're 
                // equal.  
                return 0;
            }
            else
            {
                // If x is null and y is not null, y 
                // is greater.  
                return -1;
            }
        }
        else
        {
            // If x is not null... 
            // 
            if (y == null)
                // ...and y is null, x is greater.
            {
                return 1;
            }
            else
            {
                // ...and y is not null, compare the  
                // lengths of the two strings. 
                // 
                int retval = x.Length.CompareTo(y.Length);

                if (retval != 0)
                {
                    // If the strings are not of equal length, 
                    // the longer string is greater. 
                    // 
                    return retval;
                }
                else
                {
                    // If the strings are of equal length, 
                    // sort them with ordinary string comparison. 
                    // 
                    return x.CompareTo(y);
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

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");
        Display(dinosaurs);

        DinoComparer dc = new DinoComparer();

        Console.WriteLine("\nSort with alternate comparer:");
        dinosaurs.Sort(dc);
        Display(dinosaurs);

        SearchAndInsert(dinosaurs, "Coelophysis", dc);
        Display(dinosaurs);

        SearchAndInsert(dinosaurs, "Oviraptor", dc);
        Display(dinosaurs);

        SearchAndInsert(dinosaurs, "Tyrannosaur", dc);
        Display(dinosaurs);

        SearchAndInsert(dinosaurs, null, dc);
        Display(dinosaurs);
    }

    private static void SearchAndInsert(List<string> list, 
        string insert, DinoComparer dc)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("\nBinarySearch and Insert \"{0}\":", insert);

        int index = list.BinarySearch(insert, dc);

        if (index < 0)
        {
            list.Insert(~index, insert);
        }
    }

    private static void Display(List<string> list)
    {
        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach( string s in list )
        {
            Console.WriteLine(s);
        }
    }
}

/* This code example produces the following output:

Pachycephalosaurus
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Deinonychus

Sort with alternate comparer:

Deinonychus
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "Coelophysis":

Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "Oviraptor":

Oviraptor
Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "Tyrannosaur":

Oviraptor
Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Tyrannosaur
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus

BinarySearch and Insert "":


Oviraptor
Coelophysis
Deinonychus
Tyrannosaur
Amargasaurus
Mamenchisaurus
Pachycephalosaurus
 */

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4.5.2, 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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