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Delegates are a feature of C# that implement functionality similar to function pointers in C and C++. Unlike function pointers, delegates are a fully object oriented solution to the problem.


To create a delegate, a delegate type is defined using the delegate keyword. The definition looks a lot like a method declaration, but really it is closer to a class definition, as you're really defining a new type. For example:

        public delegate void my_delegate(string message);

This defines a new delegate type named "my_delegate" which points at a method with one string argument and which returns nothing (void). This type can then be instantiated using the standard new operator, giving the method for the delegate to point at as an argument.

Full Example

using System;
class Foo {
        public void my_method(string message) {
                Console.WriteLine("my_method: " + message);
        public delegate void my_delegate(string message);
        public static void Main(string args) {
                Foo my_obj = new Foo();
                my_delegate foo = new my_delegate(my_obj.my_method);
This creates a new object of the Foo class, and then creates a delegate to point at the my_method method of this object. The method can then be invoked through the delegate using the standard method/function syntax.


As well as object methods, delegates can also be made to point at static class methods. The compiler only cares that the arguments and return type are the same.

Of course, delegates are pretty much obsolete in any language which has a lambda construct such as Lisp or Ruby.