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This chapter compares the support for numbers, dates, and times provided in the Java class library with those in Microsoft .NET. Java and C# both provide language-level support for straightforward numeric operations; more complex features are implemented in the class libraries. Conversely, neither Java nor C# provides language-level support for working with dates and times; classes offer a better solution to the complexities of localization.
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The .NET numeric types and the C# language syntax used to manipulate them are discussed in 5, "Data Types." As described in 5, .NET value types are implemented as structs and have object capabilities. This section discusses the object features of the numeric types, particularly those that support comparison, conversion, and formatting. In Java, the primitive wrapper classes such as java.lang.Integer and java.lang.Double predominantly provide these features. This section also covers the facilities provided by .NET to perform mathematical operations and generate pseudorandom numbers; both provide direct equivalents of the facilities offered by Java.
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.NET implements all inbuilt numeric data types as structs in the System namespace. C# defines convenient keyword aliases for the fully qualified struct names, so the full names are rarely used. We discussed the C# keywords and their equivalent fully qualified struct names in 4, "Language Syntax and Features." All of the numeric structs derive from the System.ValueType class, which derives from System.Object. The Equals, GetHashCode, and ToString methods inherited from Object are overridden to provide behavior more appropriate to numeric types. GetType still returns a Type object for the struct instance. We'll discuss these methods in the "Members" section later in this chapter. Additionally, all numeric structs implement a standard set of interfaces, provide type-specific members, and are serializable.
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For a complete discussion of serialization, see 10," "Streams, Files, and I/O."
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All of the inbuilt numeric types implement the IComparable, IFormattable, and IConvertible interfaces from the System namespace.
IComparable
The IComparable interface specifies the implementation of the following method:
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int CompareTo(object obj);
The CompareTo method enables instances of numeric types to be compared with other numbers, with the return value indicating their relative ranking. This is the same as the Java java.lang.Comparable interface, and the return values are
< 0 if the instance value is less than the value of obj. 0 if the instance value is equal to the value of obj. > 0 if the instance value is greater than the value of obj.
Unfortunately, although the CompareTo method accepts any Object reference as an argument, the numeric types throw a System.ArgumentException if the object and the argument are different types. No implicit conversion is performed; the types must match or have been explicitly cast to the same type. The value null is a valid value and is always considered less than any other value. Implementation of the IComparable interface is useful when numeric types are used in collections, but for general purposes the >, ==, and < operators offer a simpler solution.
More Information
See 9," "Collections," for information on the use of IComparable in collections.
IFormattable
IFormattable specifies the implementation of an overloaded ToString method that supports the rendering of numeric types to strings. Format specifiers and localization settings provide extensive control over the format of the string representation. See the "Formatting Numbers" section later in this chapter for more information.
More Information
The IFormattable interface is discussed in detail in 7, "Strings and Regular Expressions."
IConvertible
The IConvertible interface specifies methods for converting the implementing class to a set of target representations. The methods are ToBoolean, ToByte, ToChar, ToDataTime, ToDecimal, ToDouble, ToInt16, ToInt32, ToInt64, ToSByte, ToSingle, ToString, ToType, ToUInt32, and ToUInt64. All methods take an instance of IFormatProvider as an argument. The implementing class refers to the IFormatProvider instance to obtain localization settings for use in the conversion process. If null is provided, the current default system settings will
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