ValueType Class


The .NET API Reference documentation has a new home. Visit the .NET API Browser on to see the new experience.

Provides the base class for value types.

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


public abstract class ValueType


Initializes a new instance of the ValueType class.


Indicates whether this instance and a specified object are equal.(Overrides Object.Equals(Object).)


Allows an object to try to free resources and perform other cleanup operations before it is reclaimed by garbage collection.(Inherited from Object.)


Returns the hash code for this instance.(Overrides Object.GetHashCode().)


Gets the Type of the current instance.(Inherited from Object.)


Creates a shallow copy of the current Object.(Inherited from Object.)


Returns the fully qualified type name of this instance.(Overrides Object.ToString().)

ValueType overrides the virtual methods from Object with more appropriate implementations for value types. See also Enum, which inherits from ValueType.

Data types are separated into value types and reference types. Value types are either stack-allocated or allocated inline in a structure. Reference types are heap-allocated. Both reference and value types are derived from the ultimate base class Object. In cases where it is necessary for a value type to behave like an object, a wrapper that makes the value type look like a reference object is allocated on the heap, and the value type's value is copied into it. The wrapper is marked so the system knows that it contains a value type. This process is known as boxing, and the reverse process is known as unboxing. Boxing and unboxing allow any type to be treated as an object.

Although ValueType is the implicit base class for value types, you cannot create a class that inherits from ValueType directly. Instead, individual compilers provide a language keyword or construct (such as struct in C# and StructureEnd Structure in Visual Basic) to support the creation of value types.

Aside from serving as the base class for value types in the .NET Framework, the ValueType structure is generally not used directly in code. However, it can be used as a parameter in method calls to restrict possible arguments to value types instead of all objects, or to permit a method to handle a number of different value types. The following example illustrates how ValueType prevents reference types from being passed to methods. It defines a class named Utility that contains four methods: IsNumeric, which indicates whether its argument is a number; IsInteger, which indicates whether its argument is an integer; IsFloat, which indicates whether its argument is a floating-point number; and Compare, which indicates the relationship between two numeric values. In each case, the method parameters are of type ValueType, and reference types are prevented from being passed to the methods.

using System;
using System.Numerics;

public class Utility
   public enum NumericRelationship {
      GreaterThan = 1, 
      EqualTo = 0,
      LessThan = -1

   public static NumericRelationship Compare(ValueType value1, ValueType value2)
      if (! IsNumeric(value1)) 
         throw new ArgumentException("value1 is not a number.");
      else if (! IsNumeric(value2))
         throw new ArgumentException("value2 is not a number.");

      // Use BigInteger as common integral type
      if (IsInteger(value1) && IsInteger(value2)) {
         BigInteger bigint1 = (BigInteger) value1;
         BigInteger bigint2 = (BigInteger) value2;
         return (NumericRelationship) BigInteger.Compare(bigint1, bigint2);
      // At least one value is floating point; use Double.
      else {
         Double dbl1 = 0;
         Double dbl2 = 0;
         try {
            dbl1 = Convert.ToDouble(value1);
         catch (OverflowException) {
            Console.WriteLine("value1 is outside the range of a Double.");
         try {
            dbl2 = Convert.ToDouble(value2);
         catch (OverflowException) {
            Console.WriteLine("value2 is outside the range of a Double.");
         return (NumericRelationship) dbl1.CompareTo(dbl2);

   public static bool IsInteger(ValueType value)
      return (value is SByte || value is Int16 || value is Int32 
              || value is Int64 || value is Byte || value is UInt16  
              || value is UInt32 || value is UInt64 
              || value is BigInteger); 

   public static bool IsFloat(ValueType value) 
      return (value is float | value is double | value is Decimal);

   public static bool IsNumeric(ValueType value)
      return (value is Byte ||
              value is Int16 ||
              value is Int32 ||
              value is Int64 ||
              value is SByte ||
              value is UInt16 ||
              value is UInt32 ||
              value is UInt64 ||
              value is BigInteger ||
              value is Decimal ||
              value is Double ||
              value is Single);

The following example illustrates calls to the methods of the Utility class.

public class Example
   public static void Main()
      Console.WriteLine(Utility.IsNumeric(new DateTime(2012, 1, 1)));
      Console.WriteLine("{0} {1} {2}", 12.1, Utility.Compare(12.1, 12), 12);
// The example displays the following output:
//       True
//       False
//       False
//       False
//       False
//       True
//       False
//       True
//       False
//       12.1 GreaterThan 12

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 8
.NET Framework
Available since 1.1
Portable Class Library
Supported in: portable .NET platforms
Available since 2.0
Windows Phone Silverlight
Available since 7.0
Windows Phone
Available since 8.1

Any public static ( Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe.

Return to top