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# Nullable Types

## Null Basics

Reference types can represent a nonexistent value with a null reference. Value types, however, cannot ordinarily represent null values. For example:

string s = null;       // OK, Reference Type
int i = null;          // Compile Error, Value Type
// cannot be null

To represent null in a value type, you must use a special construct called a nullable type. A nullable type is denoted with a value type followed by the ? symbol:

int? i = null;                    // OK, Nullable Type
Console.WriteLine (i == null);    // True

### Nullable<T> struct

T? translates into System.Nullable<T>. Nullable<T> is a light-weight immutable struct, having only two fields to represent Value and HasValue. The essence of System.Nullable<T> is very simple:

public struct Nullable<T> where T : struct
{
public T Value {get;}
public bool HasValue {get;}
public T GetValueOrDefault();
public T GetValueOrDefault(T defaultValue);
...
}

The code:

int? i = null;
Console.WriteLine (i == null);              // true

gets translated by the compiler to:

Nullable<int> i = new Nullable<int>();
Console.WriteLine (! i.HasValue);           // true

Attempting to retrieve Value when HasValue is false throws an InvalidOperationException. GetValueOrDefault() returns Value if HasValue is true; otherwise, it returns new T() or a specified a custom default value.

The default value of T? is null.

### Implicit and explicit nullable conversions

The conversion from T to T? is implicit, and from T? to T is explicit. For example:

int? x = 5;        // implicit
int y = (int)x;    // explicit

The explicit ...

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