What is ‘=>’? (C# Grammar Question)

I was watching a Silverlight tutorial video, and I came across an unfamiliar expression in the example code.

what is => ? what is its name? could you please provide me a link? I couldn’t search for it because they are special characters.


        var ctx = new EventManagerDomainContext();
        ctx.SubmitChanges((op) =>
            if (!op.HasError)
        }, null);

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It’s a lambda expression.

If you’re familiar with anonymous methods from C# 2, lambda expressions are mostly similar but more concise. So the code you’ve got could be written like this with an anonymous method:

var ctx = new EventManagerDomainContext();
ctx.SubmitChanges(delegate(Operation op)
    if (!op.HasError)
}, null);

Aspects of anonymous methods such as the behaviour of captured variables work the same way for lambda expressions. Lambda expressions and anonymous methods are collectively called anonymous functions.

There are a few differences, however:

  • Lambda expressions can be converted into expression trees as well as delegates.
  • Lambda expressions have a number of shortcuts to make them more concise:

    • If the compiler can infer the parameter types, you don’t need to specify them
    • If the body is a single statement, you don’t need to put it in braces and you can omit the “return” part of a return statement
    • If you have a single parameter with an inferred type, you can miss out the brackets

    Putting these together, you get things like:

    IEnumerable<string> names = people.Select(person => person.Name);
  • Lambda expressions don’t support the “I don’t care how many parameters there are” form of anonymous methods, e.g.

    EventHandler x = delegate { Console.WriteLine("I was called"); };

I couldn’t search for it because they are special characters.

Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are the best. This worked for me:

  • Start Visual Studio 2008 or later
  • Hit F1
  • Once the Help Document Explorer has come up, ensure the Index tab is selected in the left hand pane
  • Enter => in the Look for field
  • The first item in the list is now the help article you need.