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IComparer.Compare Method

Compares two objects and returns a value indicating whether one is less than, equal to, or greater than the other.

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

int Compare(
	Object x,
	Object y


Type: System.Object
The first object to compare.
Type: System.Object
The second object to compare.

Return Value

Type: System.Int32
A signed integer that indicates the relative values of x and y, as shown in the following table.



Less than zero

x is less than y.


x equals y.

Greater than zero

x is greater than y.


Neither x nor y implements the IComparable interface.


x and y are of different types and neither one can handle comparisons with the other.

The preferred implementation is to use the CompareTo method of one of the parameters.

Comparing null with any type is allowed and does not generate an exception when using IComparable. When sorting, null is considered to be less than any other object.

The following code example demonstrates the use of the IComparer interface to sort an ArrayList object. In this example, the IComparer interface is implemented using the CaseInsensitiveComparer class to reverse the order of the contents of the ArrayList.

using System;
using System.Collections;

public class SamplesArrayList  {

   public class myReverserClass : IComparer  {

      // Calls CaseInsensitiveComparer.Compare with the parameters reversed.
      int IComparer.Compare( Object x, Object y )  {
          return( (new CaseInsensitiveComparer()).Compare( y, x ) );


   public static void Main()  {

      // Creates and initializes a new ArrayList.
      ArrayList myAL = new ArrayList();
      myAL.Add( "The" );
      myAL.Add( "quick" );
      myAL.Add( "brown" );
      myAL.Add( "fox" );
      myAL.Add( "jumps" );
      myAL.Add( "over" );
      myAL.Add( "the" );
      myAL.Add( "lazy" );
      myAL.Add( "dog" );

      // Displays the values of the ArrayList.
      Console.WriteLine( "The ArrayList initially contains the following values:" );
      PrintIndexAndValues( myAL );

      // Sorts the values of the ArrayList using the default comparer.
      Console.WriteLine( "After sorting with the default comparer:" );
      PrintIndexAndValues( myAL );

      // Sorts the values of the ArrayList using the reverse case-insensitive comparer.
      IComparer myComparer = new myReverserClass();
      myAL.Sort( myComparer );
      Console.WriteLine( "After sorting with the reverse case-insensitive comparer:" );
      PrintIndexAndValues( myAL );


   public static void PrintIndexAndValues( IEnumerable myList )  {
      int i = 0;
      foreach ( Object obj in myList )
         Console.WriteLine( "\t[{0}]:\t{1}", i++, obj );


This code produces the following output.
The ArrayList initially contains the following values:
        [0]:    The
        [1]:    quick
        [2]:    brown
        [3]:    fox
        [4]:    jumps
        [5]:    over
        [6]:    the
        [7]:    lazy
        [8]:    dog

After sorting with the default comparer:
        [0]:    brown
        [1]:    dog
        [2]:    fox
        [3]:    jumps
        [4]:    lazy
        [5]:    over
        [6]:    quick
        [7]:    the
        [8]:    The

After sorting with the reverse case-insensitive comparer:
        [0]:    the
        [1]:    The
        [2]:    quick
        [3]:    over
        [4]:    lazy
        [5]:    jumps
        [6]:    fox
        [7]:    dog
        [8]:    brown 

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

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