Strong Typing
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Article Index
Strong Typing
Using conversion classes
Perl
Casting
Implicit conversion
Altering representation

Concluding the exploration of  what distinguishes  weakly typed languages from strongly typed ones,  Nikos Vaggalis looks at examples of strong typing.

 

In Weakly Typed Languages I presented examples of weak typing in Perl, C# and Visual Basic. Here I continue with examples of strong typing. 

This articles concludes my discussion Type Systems Demystified which started by looking at the difference between static and dynamic type systems.

C# Strong typing behavior

Now let's see how strongly typed languages behave.

Compare Example 14 with Examples 5 in the eariler article.

Example 14

using System;
namespace ConsoleApplication2
{
class Program
{
static void Main(string[] args)
{
double a = 7.3;
int b = 10;
b = a + b;
System.Console.Write(b);
}
}
}

Produces:

Error 1      Cannot implicitly convert type 'double' to 'int'. An explicit conversion exists (are you missing a cast?)

However a = a + b; implicitly converts int to double since there is no data loss when converting an int to a double and so this works.

Example 15

using System;
namespace ConsoleApplication2
{
class MyClass
{
public void my_method(int x)
{
System.Console.Write(x);
}
}
class Program
{
static void Main(string[] args)
{
MyClass obj = new MyClass();
double a = 7.3;
obj.my_method(a);
}
}
}

Error     1            The best overloaded method match for 'ConsoleApplication2.MyClass.my_method(int)' has some invalid arguments

Error     2            Argument '1': cannot convert from 'double' to 'int'

The compiler disallowed the implicit conversion from double to int, not because they are unrelated but because there is potential data loss from the conversion. In this case we could easily bypass the check and make the compiler happy by using an explicit cast:

obj.my_method((int)a);

where we effectively tell the compiler that we know that we might lose data but despite that we want to proceed.

Contrast this behaviour with VB.NET (Example 9 in the previous article) which allowed an implicit conversion between related data types (from a double to an int) but with potential data loss (since a double cannot fit into an int). C#, on the other hand, protects us from the possibility of  losing data.

Data loss in C

An implict conversion between family-related data types with data loss becomes clear  when we use an example in C.

Example 16

#include <stdio.h>
int main()
{
short s;
int  i;
i = 65535;
s = i;

printf("value of int i is :  %d\n", i);
printf("value of short s is :  %d\n", s);
}

value of int i is :  65535
value of short s is :  -1

On the other hand the C# compiler allows us to use an explicit cast because the types are related.

However, if instead of a double we tried to pass in a string as a function/method argument, the compiler would not allow the operation to proceed even with an explicit cast as the types are not compatible.

This means that there is no type converter between those types built into the language; a design decision.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 09 November 2012 )
 
 

   
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