Introduction To Delegates in F#

Introduction

In this article I will explain Delegates and how to them in a F# console application.

What is Delegate?

A Delegate is a special function that encapsulate a method and represents a method signature. Delegates are similar to pointers to functions in C or C++. A delegate is a reference type variable that holds the address of functions. The reference can be changed at runtime. Delegates are used for implementing events and call-back functions. A delegate is referred to as type-safe function pointers, in other words if the method with two int parameters and a return type is an int then the delegate that you are declaring should also have the same signature. That is why a delegate is referred to as type-safe function.

The following is the syntax to declare a Delegate:

type delegate-typename=delegate of type1 ->type2

The following are the 3 ways to define Delegates:

  • Declaration
  • Instantiation
  • Invocation

The following are the 2 types of Delegates:

  • Simple Delegate
  • Multicast Delegate

Multicast Delegate

A Multicast Delegate holds references of one or more functions. Multicast delegates must contain only methods that have the return type void only, else there is a runtime exception. The Delegate object uses the "+" and  "-" operator s. The "+" operator composes the number of delegates by the delegate object and the "-" operator removes the component delegate from the composed delegate object.

Features

The following are the features of Delegates:

  • Delegate are like function pointers but type safe.
  • Delegates allow methods to be passed as a parameter.
  • A Delegate can be used for callback methods.
  • Delegates improve the performance of the application.

Invoke( ) Function

The Invoke( ) Function executes the specified delegate with the specified list of arguments.

Let's use the following procedure to understand Delegates.

Step 1:

Open Visual Studio then click "Create New Project" --> "F# Console Application".

create-app.jpg

Step 2:

Write the following code in the F# application.

#light

open System

 type DemoDelegates() =

  static member add(a : int, b : int) =

     a + b

  static member sub (a : int) (b : int) =

     a - b

  member x.Add(a : int, b : int) =

     a + b

  member x.Sub (a : int) (b : int) =

     a - b 

type Delegateobj1 = delegate of (int * int) -> int

type Delegateobj2 = delegate of int * int -> int

let InvokeDelegate1 (dlg : Delegateobj1) (a : int) (b: int) =

   dlg.Invoke(a, b)

let Delegateobj2 (dlg : Delegateobj2) (a : int) (b: int) =

   dlg.Invoke(a, b)

let del3 : Delegateobj1 = new Delegateobj1( DemoDelegates.add )

let del4 : Delegateobj2 = new Delegateobj2( DemoDelegates.sub )

let delobj = DemoDelegates()

let del1 : Delegateobj1 = new Delegateobj1( delobj.Add )

let del2 : Delegateobj2 = new Delegateobj2( delobj.Sub )

for (a, b) in [ (50,40 ); (0,0) ] do

printfn "\nAdd:%d + %d = %d" a b (InvokeDelegate1 del1 a b) 

printfn "\nSub:%d - %d = %d" a b (Delegateobj2 del2 a b)

printfn "\nadd:%d + %d = %d" a b (InvokeDelegate1 del3 a b)

printfn "\nsub:%d - %d = %d" a b (Delegateobj2 del4 a b)

System.Console.ReadKey(true)

 

Output

Debug the application by pressing F5 and the result will be in the application as  shown in the following figure.

output.jpg

Summary

This article explained Delegates and how to use them in a F# console application and you saw how to declare and implement the delegates.

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