Marwie Marwie - 3 months ago 16
C# Question

Why does Equals(object) win over Equals(T) when using an inherited object in Hashset or other Collections?

I am aware of the fact that I always have to override

Equals(object)
and
GetHashCode()
when implementing
IEquatable<T>.Equals(T)
.

However, I don't understand, why in some situations the
Equals(object)
wins over the generic
Equals(T)
.

For example why is the following happening? If I declare
IEquatable<T>
for an interface and implement a concrete type
X
for it, the general
Equals(object)
is called by a
Hashset<X>
when comparing items of those type against each other. In all other situations where at least one of the sides is cast to the Interface, the correct
Equals(T)
is called.

Here's a code sample to demonstrate:

public interface IPerson : IEquatable<IPerson> { }

//Simple example implementation of Equals (returns always true)
class Person : IPerson
{
public bool Equals(IPerson other)
{
return true;
}

public override bool Equals(object obj)
{
return true;
}

public override int GetHashCode()
{
return 0;
}
}

private static void doEqualityCompares()
{
var t1 = new Person();

var hst = new HashSet<Person>();
var hsi = new HashSet<IPerson>();

hst.Add(t1);
hsi.Add(t1);

//Direct comparison
t1.Equals(t1); //IEquatable<T>.Equals(T)

hst.Contains(t1); //Equals(object) --> why? both sides inherit of IPerson...
hst.Contains((IPerson)t1); //IEquatable<T>.Equals(T)

hsi.Contains(t1); //IEquatable<T>.Equals(T)
hsi.Contains((IPerson)t1); //IEquatable<T>.Equals(T)
}

Answer

HashSet<T> calls EqualityComparer<T>.Default to get the default equality comparer when no comparer is provided.

EqualityComparer<T>.Default determines if T implementsIEquatable<T>. If it does, it uses that, if not, it uses object.Equals and object.GetHashCode.

Your Person object implements IEquatable<IPerson> not IEquatable<Person>.

When you have a HashSet<Person> it ends up checking if Person is an IEquatable<Person>, which its not, so it uses the object methods.

When you have a HashSet<IPerson> it checks if IPerson is an IEquatable<IPerson>, which it is, so it uses those methods.


As for the remaining case, why does the line:

hst.Contains((IPerson)t1);

call the IEquatable Equals method even though its called on the HashSet<Person>. Here you're calling Contains on a HashSet<Person> and passing in an IPerson. HashSet<Person>.Contains requires the parameter to be a Person; an IPerson is not a valid argument. However, a HashSet<Person> is also an IEnumerable<Person>, and since IEnumerable<T> is covariant, that means it can be treated as an IEnumerable<IPerson>, which has a Contains extension method (through LINQ) which accepts an IPerson as a parameter.

IEnumerable.Contains also uses EqualityComparer<T>.Default to get its equality comparer when none is provided. In the case of this method call we're actually calling Contains on an IEnumerable<IPerson>, which means EqualityComparer<IPerson>.Default is checking to see if IPerson is an IEquatable<IPerson>, which it is, so that Equals method is called.

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