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What is pattern matching in C# 7.0-7.3?

Rukhshan Haroon

Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

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In C#, pattern matching is used to determine if a variable is of a certain type and/or holds a particular value or not.

Pattern matching was originally introduced in #7.0, and additional features were added to it in C# 8.0.

The is pattern

The most basic type of pattern matching is implemented using the is pattern. The is pattern tests the data type and value of the variable in question. It is usually incorporated in an if statement, which returns true if the pattern is matched and false otherwise.

Subsequently, the user can choose to discard the value according to the value returned by this if statement.

Example

The following program demonstrates how to use the if pattern.

In the main program, we declare a variable of type int and value 110. Using an if statement and the is pattern, the program checks if the data-type of this variable is int and if its value is greater than 100.

using System;
public class Program {
// Main function
public static void Main()
{
// variable to be checked
int sample = 110;
// if statement that checks if value of sample is of type int and greater than 100
if (sample is int count && count > 100)
{
//output if condition is true
Console.WriteLine("The value of sample, " + sample + ", is of type int and grater than 100");
}
else
{
//output if condition is false
Console.WriteLine("The value of the variable sample is not of our desired type and/or value");
}
}
}

If these conditions are met, the program outputs the following string:

The value of sample, 110, is of type int and greater than 100

Otherwise (for, let’s say, sample = 99), the following string is printed:

The value of the variable sample is not of our desired type and/or value

The case pattern

Similarly, pattern matching can be performed using the case statements. The following program implements a case statement to check if the value of a variable input is null or not:

switch (input)
{
    case null:
      Console.WriteLine("Value is null, terminate!")
    default:
      Console.WriteLine("Value is not null, you may proceed!")
}

Relational patterns

Relational patterns are used to compare the value of a variable with constants.

For example, the following function compares the value of weight to cut-off values provided by the user and returns the corresponding string:

string check(int weight) =>
    weight switch
    {
        (> 60) and (< 70) => "Normal",
        < 60 => "Underweight",
        > 80 => "Overweight",
    };

Type tests

Similarly, pattern matching can be used to verify if the data type of a variable or data structure is as required:

if (sequence is List<T> list)
    {
        return list[list.Count];
    }

This check comes in handy in the example above, as it returns the number of variables in the list. If list was not of type List<T>, for instance of type int instead, it would be impossible to calculate its length.

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Rukhshan Haroon
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Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

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