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Understanding Delegates in C#

, 16 Sep 2005 CPOL
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This article describes delegates in C#.


Delegate is like a buzz word in C#.NET programming. In this article, I explain delegates, multicast delegates and their usage with the help of simple C# programs.

What is a Delegate?

Delegate is a type which  holds the method(s) reference in an object. It is also referred to as a type safe function pointer.


  • Encapsulating the method's call from caller
  • Effective use of delegate improves the performance of application
  • Used to call a method asynchronously


public delegate type_of_delegate delegate_name()


public delegate int mydelegate(int delvar1,int delvar2)


  • You can use delegates without parameters or with parameter list
  • You should follow the same syntax as in the method
    (If you are referring to the method with two int parameters and int return type, the delegate which you are declaring should be in the same format. This is why it is referred to as type safe function pointer.)

Sample Program using Delegate

public delegate double Delegate_Prod(int a,int b);
class Class1
    static double fn_Prodvalues(int val1,int val2)
        return val1*val2;
    static void Main(string[] args)
        //Creating the Delegate Instance
        Delegate_Prod delObj = new Delegate_Prod(fn_Prodvalues);
        Console.Write("Please Enter Values");
        int v1 = Int32.Parse(Console.ReadLine());
        int v2 = Int32.Parse(Console.ReadLine());
        //use a delegate for processing
        double res = delObj(v1,v2);
        Console.WriteLine ("Result :"+res);


Here I have used a small program which demonstrates the use of delegate.

The delegate "Delegate_Prod" is declared with double return type and accepts only two integer parameters.

Inside the class, the method named fn_Prodvalues is defined with double return type and two integer parameters. (The delegate and method have the same signature and parameter type.)

Inside the Main method, the delegate instance is created and the function name is passed to the delegate instance as follows:

Delegate_Prod delObj = new Delegate_Prod(fn_Prodvalues);

After this, we are accepting the two values from the user and passing those values to the delegate as we do using method:


Here delegate object encapsulates the method functionalities and returns the result as we specified in the method.

Multicast Delegate

What is Multicast Delegate?

It is a delegate which holds the reference of more than one method.

Multicast delegates must contain only methods that return void, else there is a run-time exception.

Simple Program using Multicast Delegate

delegate void Delegate_Multicast(int x, int y);
Class Class2
    static void Method1(int x, int y)
        Console.WriteLine("You r in Method 1");

    static void Method2(int x, int y)
        Console.WriteLine("You r in Method 2");

    public static void <place w:st="on" />Main</place />()
        Delegate_Multicast func = new Delegate_Multicast(Method1);
        func += new Delegate_Multicast(Method2);
        func(1,2);             // Method1 and Method2 are called
        func -= new Delegate_Multicast(Method1);
        func(2,3);             // Only Method2 is called


In the above example, you can see that two methods are defined named method1 and method2 which take two integer parameters and return type as void.

In the main method, the Delegate object is created using the following statement:

Delegate_Multicast func = new Delegate_Multicast(Method1);

Then the Delegate is added using the += operator and removed using the -= operator.


This article would help to understand delegates in C# using simple examples. If you have any query regarding this article, you can reach me at


  • 16th September, 2005: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Arul Nayagam C
Web Developer
India India
Working as a Software Engineer in a MNC Company.Knowledge on C#.NET, ASP.NET, VB.NET ,VB & SQL Server.

Comments and Discussions

QuestionWhy use Delegates PinmemberTheArgyleGhost8-May-09 0:01 
AnswerRe: Why use Delegates PinmemberLee Venkatsamy13-Sep-12 12:50 
Questionwebservice Pinmemberdhandapani8423-Aug-08 20:43 
Generalinformative... PinmemberMember 31882061-Apr-08 22:47 
Questiondelegates from different files Pinmemberoldcoastroad2-Mar-08 22:59 
AnswerRe: delegates from different files Pinmemberlisan_al_ghaib24-Aug-08 0:21 
GeneralMulticast delegate PinmemberNiraj_Kheria16-Sep-07 23:02 
GeneralMulticast delegate [modified] PinmemberArijit Pal16-Sep-07 22:54 
With reference to the code below I would like to mention that there is no runtime exception in case of multicast delegate if the return type of all the methods wrapped by the delegate is not void.
It is mandatory that the signature of all the methods is the same.
However considering the below example we can catch only the last returned value.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Text;
namespace MulticastDelegate_Console
class Program
public delegate int dgSequence(int i);
static void Main(string[] args)
dgSequence dgS = new dgSequence(m1);
dgS += new dgSequence(m2);

public static int m1(int x)
return (x+1);
public static int m2(int x)
return (x+2);



-- modified at 8:29 Monday 17th September, 2007
Arijit Pal
GeneralV.I Question In Delegate [modified] Pinmembermsleem14-May-07 8:00 
GeneralRe: V.I Question In Delegate PinmemberVikas_Awasthi13-Jan-11 11:01 
Generallack of fanciness Pinmemberazam's13-Feb-07 0:45 
GeneralSimply Great!! Pinmemberirula5-Jan-07 2:30 
GeneralMulticast Delegates may also call methods returning values without error Pinmemberambujsaxena13-Nov-06 1:37 
GeneralRe: Multicast Delegates may also call methods returning values without error PinmemberPavanPT3-Apr-07 23:27 
GeneralRe: Multicast Delegates may also call methods returning values without error Pinmembersamir411802-Oct-07 8:04 
GeneralErrata Pinmembermohitcalling11-Oct-06 22:45 
GeneralRe: Errata Pinmemberazam's13-Feb-07 0:21 
GeneralRe: Errata Pinmembermohitcalling18-Nov-08 22:07 
GeneralRe: Errata - Why new Pinmembersafnate Malete3-Oct-11 19:50 
GeneralBest article for starters PinmemberStuti Patel1-Aug-06 20:36 
GeneralProblem in converting function pointers of VC++ to delegate in C#.Net PinmemberStuti Patel1-Aug-06 20:26 
GeneralNot bad for a first article PinprotectorMarc Clifton16-Sep-05 6:38 

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