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IEqualityComparer(Of T) Interface

 

Defines methods to support the comparison of objects for equality.

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

Public Interface IEqualityComparer(Of In T)

Type Parameters

InT

The type of objects to compare.

NameDescription
System_CAPS_pubmethodEquals(T, T)

Determines whether the specified objects are equal.

System_CAPS_pubmethodGetHashCode(T)

Returns a hash code for the specified object.

This interface allows the implementation of customized equality comparison for collections. That is, you can create your own definition of equality for type T, and specify that this definition be used with a collection type that accepts the IEqualityComparer(Of T) generic interface. In the .NET Framework, constructors of the Dictionary(Of TKey, TValue) generic collection type accept this interface.

A default implementation of this interface is provided by the Default property of the EqualityComparer(Of T) generic class. The StringComparer class implements IEqualityComparer(Of T) of type String.

This interface supports only equality comparisons. Customization of comparisons for sorting and ordering is provided by the IComparer(Of T) generic interface.

We recommend that you derive from the EqualityComparer(Of T) class instead of implementing the IEqualityComparer(Of T) interface, because the EqualityComparer(Of T) class tests for equality using the IEquatable(Of T).Equals method instead of the Object.Equals method. This is consistent with the Contains, IndexOf, LastIndexOf, and Remove methods of the Dictionary(Of TKey, TValue) class and other generic collections.

The following example adds custom Box objects to a dictionary collection. The Box objects are considered equal if their dimensions are the same.

Imports System.Collections.Generic

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()

      Dim boxEqC As New BoxEqualityComparer()

      Dim boxes As New Dictionary(Of Box, String)(boxEqC)

      Dim redBox = New Box(4, 3, 4)
      AddBox(boxes, redBox, "red")

      Dim blueBox = new Box(4, 3, 4)
      AddBox(boxes, blueBox, "blue")

      Dim greenBox = new Box(3, 4, 3)
      AddBox(boxes, greenBox, "green")
      Console.WriteLine()

      Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains {0} Box objects.",
                        boxes.Count)
   End Sub

   Private Sub AddBox(dict As Dictionary(Of Box, String), box As Box, name As String)
      Try
         dict.Add(box, name)
      Catch e As ArgumentException
         Console.WriteLine("Unable to add {0}: {1}", box, e.Message)
      End Try
   End Sub
End Module

Public Class Box
    Private _Height As Integer
    Private _Length As Integer
    Private _Width As Integer

    Public Sub New(ByVal h As Integer, ByVal l As Integer,
                                        ByVal w As Integer)
        Me.Height = h
        Me.Length = l
        Me.Width = w
    End Sub

    Public Property Height() As Integer
        Get
            Return _Height
        End Get
        Set(ByVal value As Integer)
            _Height = value
        End Set
    End Property

    Public Property Length() As Integer
        Get
            Return _Length
        End Get
        Set(ByVal value As Integer)
            _Length = value
        End Set
    End Property

    Public Property Width() As Integer
        Get
            Return _Width
        End Get
        Set(ByVal value As Integer)
            _Width = value
        End Set
    End Property

    Public Overrides Function ToString() As String
       Return String.Format("({0}, {1}, {2})", _Height, _Length, _Width)
    End Function
End Class

Class BoxEqualityComparer
    Implements IEqualityComparer(Of Box)

    Public Overloads Function Equals(ByVal b1 As Box, ByVal b2 As Box) _
                   As Boolean Implements IEqualityComparer(Of Box).Equals

        If b1 Is Nothing AndAlso b2 Is Nothing Then
            Return True
        ElseIf b1 Is Nothing Or b2 Is Nothing Then
            Return False
        ElseIf b1.Height = b2.Height AndAlso b1.Length =
                b2.Length AndAlso b1.Width = b2.Width Then
            Return True
        Else
            Return False
        End If
    End Function

    Public Overloads Function GetHashCode(ByVal bx As Box) _
                As Integer Implements IEqualityComparer(Of Box).GetHashCode
        Dim hCode As Integer = bx.Height Xor bx.Length Xor bx.Width
        Return hCode.GetHashCode()
    End Function

End Class
' The example displays the following output:
'    Unable to add (4, 3, 4): An item with the same key has already been added.
'
'    The dictionary contains 2 Box objects.

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 4.5
.NET Framework
Available since 2.0
Portable Class Library
Supported in: portable .NET platforms
Silverlight
Available since 2.0
Windows Phone Silverlight
Available since 7.0
Windows Phone
Available since 8.1
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