The Difference Between Class and Struct in C#

Introduction: In C# programming, knowing when to use class and struct is essential for writing efficient and maintainable code. While they share similarities, such as encapsulating data and behavior, they have distinct characteristics that can significantly impact your program’s design. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the differences between classes and structs, backed by relevant examples, to help you make informed decisions in your coding journey.

Definition and Purpose:

  • Classes: A class is a blueprint for creating objects. It encapsulates data and behavior, allowing you to model complex entities with identity and behavior.
public class Person
{
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public int Age { get; set; }

    public void DisplayInfo()
    {
        Console.WriteLine($"Name: {Name}, Age: {Age}");
    }
}
  • Structs: A struct is a lightweight data structure that represents a single value. It’s suitable for small, simple data structures that don’t require inheritance or complex behavior.
public struct Point
{
    public int X { get; }
    public int Y { get; }

    public Point(int x, int y)
    {
        X = x;
        Y = y;
    }
}

Memory Allocation:

  • Classes: Objects created from classes are stored on the heap, and variables store references to their memory locations.
  • Structs: Struct instances are typically stored on the stack or inline within containing structures, avoiding heap allocation.

Performance:

  • Classes: Due to heap allocation and reference-based access, classes may incur performance overhead, especially with frequent object creation.
  • Structs: Structs offer better performance in scenarios involving small data structures, as they avoid the overhead of heap allocation and garbage collection.

Mutability:

  • Classes: Objects created from classes are mutable by default, allowing their state to be modified after creation.
  • Structs: Structs are often immutable by convention, meaning their state cannot be changed after creation, leading to safer code.

Usage Scenarios:

  • Classes: Use classes for modeling entities with identity and behavior, such as Person, Car, or Employee.
  • Structs: Use structs for lightweight data structures like coordinates, colors, or mathematical vectors, where copying behavior is preferred.

Conclusion:

Understanding the differences between classes and structs empowers you to make informed decisions in your C# projects. While classes offer flexibility and object-oriented features, structs provide performance benefits and value semantics. By choosing the appropriate data structure for your scenario, you can optimize your code for efficiency and maintainability.

Endless Existence
Endless Existence
Articles: 74

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *