Category Archives: 17107

Breaking Changes In Argument List Evaluation In C# 5.0

The C# Language Specification states on § that “(…) the expressions or variable references of an argument list are evaluated in order, from left to right (…)”.

So, when this code is compiled with the C# 4.0 compiler:

static void M(
    int x = 10,
    int y = 20,
    int z = 30)
        "x={0}, y={1}, z={2}", x, y, z);

static void Main(string[] args)
    int a = 0;

    M(++a, z: ++a);

and run, this unexpected output is obtained:

x=2, y=20, z=1

In fact, fixing this compiler flaw was the cause of one of the few breaking changes introduced in C# 5.0.

Using the 5.0 compiler, the expected result is obtained:

x=1, y=20, z=2

To avoid this type of surprises, expression evaluation should be avoided in argument lists.

With this code:

int a = 0;

int i = ++a;
int j = ++a;

M(i, z: j);

the same result is obtained for both C# 4.0 and C# 5.0:

x=1, y=20, z=2