#1,179 – Captured Variable’s Lifetime Matches Delegate

When a variable is captured by inclusion in a lambda expression, the lifetime of that variable becomes the lifetime of the delegate that the lambda is assigned to.

In the example below, we have a local variable whose scope is the body of the SomeFunction method.  We then use this local variable in a lambda expression that is assigned to a delegate instance.  After we exit SomeFunction, we can invoke the delegate and see that the variable defined in SomeFunction is still accessible.

        static Action aDelegate;

        static void Main(string[] args)

            // After call, invoke delegate to show
            // that magicNum is still alive


        static void SomeFunction()
            int magicNum = 42;

            // Assign delegate to print value of local
            // variable
            aDelegate = () => Console.WriteLine(magicNum);


#1,178 – Captured Variables Are Evaluted when a Delegate Is Invoked

A captured variable is a variable declared outside of the scope of a lambda expression, but used within the expression.

            int magicNum = 20;
            Func<int, int> mulByMagic = i => i * magicNum;

            Console.WriteLine(mulByMagic(10));  // 200

Note that the value used for a captured variable is whatever value is current when the associated delegate is invoked, rather than the value that the variable had when the lambda was defined.

            int magicNum = 20;
            Func<int, int> mulByMagic = i => i * magicNum;

            Console.WriteLine(mulByMagic(10));  // 200

            magicNum = 100;
            Console.WriteLine(mulByMagic(10));  // 1000

#1,177 – Lambda Expressions Can Reference Variables Declared Outside of Expression

A lambda expression can make use of its own parameters and local variable declarations.  For example:

            Action<int> act1 = (num) =>
                for (int i = num; i < num + 2; i++)
                    int result = i * 2 - 1;
                    Console.WriteLine(string.Format("{0}, {1}", i, result));

A lambda expression can also make use of a local variable or parameter declared outside of the lambda expression. For example:

        static void Main(string[] args)

        static void DoSomething(int someParam)
            int magicNum = 2;

            Action<int> act1 = (num) =>
                for (int i = num; i < num + (magicNum * someParam); i++)
                    int result = i * 2 - 1;
                    Console.WriteLine(string.Format("{0}, {1}", i, result));



#1,176 – How an Expression Tree is Stored in Memory

You can assign a lambda expression to an expression tree, storing the expression in an instance of Expression<TDelegate> (e.g. Expression<Func<double,double>>).

Suppose that we store the expression to convert from fahrenheit to celsius:

            // Assign to expression tree
            Expression<Func<double, double>> fahrToCelsius =
                (f) => (f - 32.0) * 5.0 / 9.0;

We can now look at this element in memory, to see how this expression is stored. Expression<T> has a Body property that is of type Expression and represents the top-level of the expression tree.  The Expression’s NodeType property indicates the operator used in the expression.  In this example, the Body will be of type BinaryExpression, which has Left and Right properties which are also of type Expression and represent left and right sub-expressions.

This is shown below by examining the expression tree in the debugger for the fahrenheit to celsius expression shown above.


#1,175 – An Example of an Expression Tree

You can assign a lambda expression to an instance of an expression tree so that you then have the corresponding expression represented as a data structure.  Below is an example of how an expression is represented in an expression tree.

Suppose that we have the expression for converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, as:


We create an expression tree by decomposing the expression into a left side, operator and right side.  We then further decompose for any sub-expression that can be decomposed.  The resulting tree looks as follows:


We can interpret the expression tree as follows:

  • Main expression: (f – 32) * 5 / 9
    • Left: (f – 32) * 5
      • Left: (f – 32)
        • Left: f
        • Operator: –
        • Right: 32
      • Operator: *
      • Right: 5
    • Operator: /
    • Right: 9


#1,174 – Assigning a Lambda Expression to an Expression Tree

You can assign a lambda expression to either an instance of a delegate type or to an expression tree based on a compatible delegate type.  An expression tree is just an in-memory representation of an expression, encoding the expression as a tree.  This allows you to interact with the expression as a data structure.

            // Assign to delegate type
            Func<int, int> doubleMe = (i) => 2 * i;

            // Assign to expression tree
            // (using System.Linq.Expressions)
            Expression<Func<int, int>> doubleMeExpr = (i) => 2 * i;

#1,173 – Lambda Expression Can Be Just an Expression

You’ll often see lambda expressions written as either a single statement (no return value) or a block of statements (optional return value).

        static void SomeMethod(int i, string s)
            // do something with int and string

        static void Main(string[] args)
            // Single statement
            Action<int, string> thing1 = (i, s) => SomeMethod(i, s);

            // Block of statements, no return value
            Action<int, string> thing2 = (i, s) =>
                for (int i2 = i; i2 <= i + 10; i2++)
                    SomeMethod(i2, s);

            // Block of statements with return value
            Func<int,int> thing3 = (i) =>
                SomeMethod(i, "x");
                return i + 1;

A lambda expression can also be a single statement representing an expression whose type is assignment compatible with the return value of the delegate type being assigned to.

            // Expression
            Func<int, int> doubleMe = (i) => 2 * i;


#1,172 – Lambda Expressions Often Used with Func and Action

Lambda expressions are quite often used with the Func and Action delegate types.  Func<> accepts zero or more parameters and returns a result.  Action<> accepts zero or more parameters and returns void.

Below are examples of lambda expressions using these delegate types.

            // Function: no parameters, returns int
            Func<int> dayOfYear = () => DateTime.Now.DayOfYear;
            int doy = dayOfYear();

            // Function: 2 parameters, returns string
            Func<int, double, string> intDoubleAdder =
                (int i, double d) =>
                    double result = i + d;
                    return string.Format("Result is {0}", result);
            string answer = intDoubleAdder(5, 4.2);

            // Action: no parameters
            Action todayReporter = () =>
                Console.WriteLine(string.Format("Today is {0}", DateTime.Today.ToLongDateString()));

            // Action: 3 parameters
            Action<string,int,double> goofyDel =
                (s, i, d) => Console.WriteLine(string.Format(s,i,d));
            goofyDel("Int is {0}, Double is {1}", 5, 12.2);

#1,171 – Lambda Expression Internals

Suppose that we have the following lambda expression (doubles a number) and that we invoke it.

    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            Func<int, int> intDoubler = x => 2 * x;

We can compile this code and then use the IL Disassembler to inspect the resulting IL.

We can see that in our main class we have a static Main method and also a private static method defined by the compiler to contain our lambda expression.  In this case, it’s named <Main>b__0.


Cracking open Main() reveals that it indeed calls <Main>b__0.


And looking at the body of <Main>b__0, we can see that it indeed just doubles the input parameter.


#1,170 – You Can’t Unsubscribe from an Event Using a Lambda Expression

Suppose that you subscribe to an event using a lambda expression:

            Dog d = new Dog("Bowser");

            // NOTE: Barked is EventHandler<string>
            d.Barked += (s, e) => Console.WriteLine("Bark: {0}", e);

You cannot, however, unsubscribe using the same syntax. The -= operator shown below will be using a different anonymous method, so the original will not be removed from the event’s invocation list.

            // Not what you expect
            d.Barked -= (s, e) => Console.WriteLine("Bark: {0}", e); 

So the lambda expression syntax is fine–as long as you don’t need to unsubscribe from the event.  (More on that in a future post).

If you want to unsubscribe, but still use lambda syntax, you could persist the delegate instance.

            EventHandler<string> handler = (s, e) => Console.WriteLine("Bark: {0}", e);
            d.Barked += handler;

            // ...

            d.Barked -= handler;