C# - Passing Parameters by Reference


A reference parameter is a reference to a memory location of a variable. When you pass parameters by reference, unlike value parameters, a new storage location is not created for these parameters. The reference parameters represent the same memory location as the actual parameters that are supplied to the method.

In C#, you declare the reference parameters using the ref keyword. The following example demonstrates this:

using System;
namespace CalculatorApplication
   class NumberManipulator
      public void swap(ref int x, ref int y)
         int temp;

         temp = x; /* save the value of x */
         x = y;   /* put y into x */
         y = temp; /* put temp into y */
      static void Main(string[] args)
         NumberManipulator n = new NumberManipulator();
         /* local variable definition */
         int a = 100;
         int b = 200;

         Console.WriteLine("Before swap, value of a : {0}", a);
         Console.WriteLine("Before swap, value of b : {0}", b);

         /* calling a function to swap the values */
         n.swap(ref a, ref b);

         Console.WriteLine("After swap, value of a : {0}", a);
         Console.WriteLine("After swap, value of b : {0}", b);


When the above code is compiled and executed, it produces the following result:

Before swap, value of a : 100
Before swap, value of b : 200
After swap, value of a : 200
After swap, value of b : 100

It shows that the values have been changed inside the swap function and this change reflects in the Main function.