Lambda Expression in C#


Lambda expressions reduce the amount of work needed when iterating through data.  All enumerable data is queryable through LINQ with use of a SQL-like query (what I mean by that is the query looks like SQL, but is a different flavor). LINQ has an in-built mechanism to loop through enumerable data and use certain conditions setup in the where clauses to filter the data.  LINQ queries are quite effective in what they do.

Lambda expressions work in a similar way. Some of the existing extension methods feature built-in lambda expressions to perform certain actions and to make it easier to perform repetitive work.  We shall see this soon.  Lambda expressions do not require extension methods to work, but this is the most common usage currently.

.NET Framework Lambda's:

There is a variety of extension methods defined in the .NET Framework that uses Lambda Expressions.  In the System.Core assembly, the System.Linq namespace features two static classes containing a variety of extensions for enumerable and queryable sources.  Some of those expressions are defined in the Where method, for example.  The Where method is defined as


 Where<TSource>(IEnumerable<TSource>, Func<TSource, bool>);


Note the second parameter; the Func (or function in VB.NET) defines a lambda expression.  The generic parameters are the key.  The first parameter is the type that is being evaluated in the lambda expression, and the second parameter is the value needing to be returned by the method.  I'll get to an example in a moment, but realize that the return type can be any value, such as a string, double, business object, etc.

So how do we use Lambda expressions?  In C#, the lambda expression is defined as

Listing 2

var items=list.Where(I=>I.FirstName==Mohan”);


Let's step through this, first of all, the "=>" code denotes a lambda expression.  The "I" parameter is the alias or name for the object of type <TSource> as shown above in the Func statement.  The first parameter is the object being iterated through, or the item type of the items in the collection.  For instance, if you have a List<MyObject>, "I" is a reference for the MyObject type.  Therefore, in our expression above, the result (which must be a boolean) only gets objects where the first name is "Fred."

Everything to the right of the "=>" is defining the criteria check for whether the method returns true and false.  So how is it used?  Here is another example I created in my application.  It works very similar to a delegate, but is also a cross between delegates and anonymous methods because the actual definition is on-the-fly.  I actually wrote one for an ASP.NET server control, which is the ListControl, because of its items collection.

Listing 3

public static IEnumerable < ListItem > FindItemsWith(this ListControl control,

  Func < ListItem, bool > result)


  List < ListItem > foundItems = new List < ListItem > ();

  foreach (ListItem item in control.Items)


    if (result(item))



  return foundItems;




Note the use of the lambda expression as declared as Func<ListItem, bool>. The ListItem object is compared and the method returns a boolean. In the looping below, each item in the list control is iterated through. The lambda expression takes a reference to the ListItem object and returns the boolean expression; if it evaluates to true, it is added to the list, and the collection is returned to the caller.


As you can see, it is really easy to use lambda expressions and embeds them in your applications.  They really add a lot of functionality to an application. Lambda expressions are commonly exposed through static methods, but they can be used in other situations as well. Extension methods are not required, though this is the most common usage in the .NET Framework as of now.

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