4.1. Values and Data Types

Programs may be thought of as being made up of two things:

  1. Data

  2. Operations that manipulate data

This chapter focuses primarily on the first of these two fundamental components, data.

Data can be stored in a program in a variety of ways. The most basic unit of data is a value.

A value is a specific piece of data, such as a word or a number. Some examples are 5, 5.2, 'r, and "Hello, World!".

Each value belongs to a category called a data type. We will see many different data types throughout the course, the first three of which are the int, double, and string types. Whole numeric values such as 4 and 33 are ints. Doubles deal with decimal points, some examples include 2.34 and 3.14159265. Sequences of characters enclosed in double quotes, such as "Hello, World!", are strings, so-called because they contain a string of letters. Strings must be enclosed in double quotes.

If you are not sure what data type a value falls into, follow the value with GetType.


Console.WriteLine(("Hello, World!").GetType());

Console Output


Not surprisingly, C# reports that the data type of "Hello, World!" is string. The data type of 17 is assumed int because it is a whole number, and 3.14 is double because of the decimal point.


Notice that Console.WriteLine(("Hello, World!").GetType()); prints out System.String to the console. The GetType method is not printed to the console because the statement "Hello, World!" GetType is an expression. Briefly, expressions are code segments that are reduced to a value. We will learn more about expressions soon.


GetType is a C# entity known as an method. It carries out some kind of action, which is already built into it.

There are data types other than string and number, including object and method, which we will learn about in future chapters.

4.1.1. More On Strings

What about values like "17" and "3.2"? They look like numbers, but they are in double quotation marks making them strings.

Double-quoted strings can contain single quotes inside them, as in "Bruce's beard".

4.1.2. More On Numbers

When you type a large integer value, you might be tempted to use commas between groups of three digits, as in 42,000. This is not a legal integer in C#.



Console Output

error CS1502: ...`System.Console.WriteLine(string, object)' has some invalid arguments

Well, that’s not what we expected at all! Because of the comma, C# chose to treat 42,000 as a pair separate entries. This causes an error in the Console.WriteLine() which was built to only work with a single entry. Adding additional entries separated by commas will overload it, causing an error.

Remember not to put commas or spaces in your integers, no matter how big they are. Also revisit what we said in the chapter How Programs Work: formal languages are strict, the notation is concise, and even the smallest change might mean something quite different from what you intend.

4.1.3. Type Systems

Every programming language has a type system, which is the set of rules that determine how the languages deals with data of different types. In particular, how values are divided up into different data types is one characteristic of a type system.

When discussing the differences between programming languages, the details of type systems are one of the main factors that programmers consider. There are other aspects of type systems beyond just how values are categorized. We will explore these in future lessons.

4.1.4. Check Your Understanding


Which of these is not a data type in C#?

  1. integer

  2. string

  3. letter

  4. object