Using Generics in C#
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by Joydip Kanjilal
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How does C# Generics and C++ Templates compare?

According to MSDN, "Generics and templates are both language features that provide support for parameterized types. However, they are different and have different uses." C# generics and templates in C++ are more or less similar syntactically. However, there are some notable differences between them. C# Generic types are strong typed and they are instantiated at the runtime whereas C++ Templates are loosely typed and they are instantiated at the compile time only. Further, unlike C++ templates, Generics do not permit the type parameters to have default values.

MSDN states, "C++ templates use a compile-time model. When a template is used in a C++ program, the effect is as if a sophisticated macro processor had been used. C# generics are not just a feature of the compiler, but also a feature of the runtime. A generic type such as List<T> maintains its generic-ness (genericity) after it has been compiled. Or, to look at it another way, the substitution that the C++ compiler does at compile time is done at JIT time in the C# generic world."


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