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Posted 24 Feb 2011

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Arrays Basics in CSharpDotNetTech

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26 Sep 2013CPOL5 min read
The article explains type of arrays in C# with easy to understandable Graphical examples.


An array is a collection of same type variables which can be accessed using numeric index. The numeric index is written in square brackets after the array name.



  • Characteristics
  • Single Dimension Array
  • Iterating Through Single Dimension Array
  • 2D Arrays
  • 3D Arrays ...
  • Bounds of Multi Dimensional Arrays
  • Jagged Arrays
  • Mixed Arrays


Following is the declaration of a single dimension array:

int[ ] roll = new int[8];  



The numeric index is zero based. It goes from 0 to n-1 where n is size of array (total number of elements in array).

On declaration, default value of numeric type arrays is set to 0, and reference types are set to null.

Arrays are stored in continuous memory locations as shown in the figure.

In C#, arrays are objects, and they have certain properties like Length, which can be used by using (.) and property name. All arrays are derived from abstract class arrays so many built-in methods can be called.

//Rank propety Return number of dimensions 
int[ ] single = new int[4] { 1, 2, 3, 4 }; 
int dimension = single.Rank;

Single Dimension Arrays

It is the simplest form of array, it's kind of a row with n columns where each column is accessed with the zero based index. The above two code examples show single dimension arrays.

In C#, declaration of array is a bit different from C or C++. Here square brackets are placed after type name, then array-name, keyword new and then type with square brackets containing size of array.

Type[ ] arrayname = new Type[size];

The following code initializes a single dimension integer array of size 5. It contains 5 elements which can be accessed by arr[0] to arr[4].

//Integer Array declaration
int[ ] arr = new int[5]; 

Character type arrays are declared as follows:

//Character type array
char[ ] name = new char[10];


In the same way, string type arrays are declared:

//String array declaration
string[ ] days = new string[7];


There are many ways to assign values to array. Array can be initialized in declaration line by placing the values between curly braces { } in comma separated fashion. Characters are placed in single quotes and strings are placed in double quotes.

//Integer Array Initialization    
int[ ] arr = new int[5] { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 };  
//Character Array Initialization    
char[ ] name = new char[10] { 'i', ' ', 'a', 'm', ' ', 'f', 'i', 'n', 'e', '.' };  
//String Array Initialization 
string[ ] days = new string[7] { "Sun", "Mon", "Tue", "Wed", "Thu", "Fri", "Sat" };

While initializing the array, size of array may be omitted. Then size of array will be calculated number of elements written in curly braces.

One other way of declaring, initializing array is:

//Integer Array Declaration, Initialization
int[ ] arr;arr = new int[5] { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 };

Following way of assigning values to array will cause Error.

//Wrong way of writing
int[ ] arr = new int[5];
arr = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 };

Iterating Through Single Dimension Array

Since in C#, arrays are objects and they retain certain built in properties. Length property returns total number of elements in array. Right now we are dealing with single dimension, so total number of elements is equal to size of array.

for (int i = 0; i < arr.Length; i++)


Multi Dimensional Arrays 

2D Arrays

Arrays can be multidimensional. The most widely used are two dimensional arrays, often Matrices form 2D arrays. In 2D array, 2 zero based index are used to access a particular value in the array.

//Integer 2D Array
int[,] matrix = new int[10, 10];
//Accessing Value
int val = matrix[5, 7];


Value of element stored in 5th Row, 7th Column i.e., 58, will be assigned to variable val. Rows and Columns have zero based index. Total number of values which can be stored in 2D array is equal to product of rows and columns. For the above case, it is 100.

Single dimension array is a single Row with columns >0. 2D arrays have more than one Row, thus form a table.


Accessing the element stored in 3rd row, 4th column in balances table.

To initialize 2D array, each row values are placed in curly braces as in the case of a single dimensional array and then these set of curly braces for all rows are placed in another set of curly braces in the same fashion.

//2D Array Initializtion
int[,] arr_2d = new int[3, 2] { { 1, 2 }, { 3, 4 }, { 5, 6 } }; 
//Initializing 2Dimensional Array
char[,] day = new char[2, 3] { { 'o', 'n', 'e' }, { 't', 'w', 'o' } };

In the above piece of code, there are 3 rows, 2 columns, thus total number of elements is 2 x 3 = 6. It's hard to initialize 2D array shown in the 1st figure, where it has 10 rows and 10 columns. Loops can be used to assign values to each location.

//Assigning Values to matrix[10,10] array
for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    for (int j = 0; j < 10; j++)
        matrix[i, j] = i * 10 + j + 1;                    

In case of multidimensional arrays, knowing number of dimensions is sometimes necessary to have more grip over the array. Rank property returns number of dimensions of the array.

//Getting Number of dimensions of array
int dim = matrix.Rank;

The GetUpperBound function returns the upper bound of the array in a particular dimension.

for (int i = 0; i <= matrix.GetUpperBound(0);i++)
    for (int j = 0; j <= matrix.GetUpperBound(1); j++)
        Console.Write(matrix[i, j].ToString() + "\t");

Output of the above piece of code is as follows:


GetLowerBound method gets the lower bound of the array in a particular dimension. The following figure shows the difference between length, upper bound and lower bound.


3D Arrays 

We can have more than two dimensions for arrays as well. For three dimensional array, we need three indexes to access each element in array. Example of 3 dimensional array can be a point in space. Consider a block of small bricks, as shown in figure below, to address each small brick, there is one index for row, one for column and one for depth.


//Block code 3D array
int[, ,] block_3d = new int[2, 3, 4];

4D Arrays

Example of 4 dimensional array can be taken as one second in a week, there are 60 seconds in one hour, 60 mins in one hour, 24 hours a day and 7 day a week.


//Week 4D array
int[, , ,] week = new int[7, 24, 60, 60];


Jagged Arrays 

Array of arrays are called jagged arrays.


The statement might be confusing but consider the example of saving marks of few students who are studying different number of subjects.

Student-1 marks 65, 60, 76
Student-2 marks 78, 92, 68, 90, 55
Student-3 marks 45, 59, 88, 72

If we use 2 Dimensional array to store the above marks, then an array of 3 rows and 5 columns is needed. The extra info needs to be added at locations for which marks don't exist.
















Jagged arrays come in handy in such situations. Jagged arrays may have different sizes and dimensions. For this situation, we need one single dimension array with three elements, and each of its elements is a single dimension array with length 3, 5, 4 respectively.

//Jagged arrays
int[ ][ ] student = new int[3][ ];

In the above piece of code, two sets of square brackets are used. Now each element of Jagged array needs to be assigned to a single dimension array.

//Declaring Each Element of Jagged Array
student[0] = new int[3];
student[1] = new int[5];
student[2] = new int[4];

Values can also be assigned just like single dimension array by placing after square brackets.

//Initializing Each Element of Jagged Array
student[0] = new int[3] { 65, 60, 76 };
student[1] = new int[5] { 78, 92, 68, 90, 55 };
	student[2] = new int[4] { 45, 59, 88, 72 };

A short way of doing this is:

//Jagged arrays
int[ ][ ] student = new int[3][ ]
{new int[3] { 65, 60, 76 },new int[5] { 78, 92, 68, 90, 55 },
	new int[4] { 45, 59, 88, 72 }};

Jagged arrays are reference type, thus they are initialized to null. To access elements in jagged array in student example, 2 indexes are used.

//Accessing elements in Jagged Array
student[2][2] = 80;for (int i = 0; i < student.Length; i++)
    for (int j = 0; j < student[i].Length; j++)


Mixed Arrays

Combination of jagged and multidimensional arrays is known as mixed arrays. In case of multidimensional arrays of different sizes, mixed arrays are used. Consider there are three tables, each with different number or rows and columns.

Table-1 3 rows, 5 columns
Table-2 4 rows, 3 columns
Table-2 6 rows, 4 columns
//Mixed Arrays int [ ][,]mixed=new int[3][ ]
     new int[3,5],
     new int[4,3],
     new int[6,4]

Have a nice time. 


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


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