Monday, August 8, 2011

Enumerable.Any vs. Enumerable.Count

JetBrains dotPeek LogoThis is the innagural entry into the section of my blog I'm calling "dotPeek of the Week." Workload permitting, it will be a weekly thing where I'll be using JetBrain's dotPeek - a free .NET decompiler to learn more about the .NET framework and share any interesting things I come up with.

In this post, I'll be sharing a little tip I picked up from my friend David Govek.

I can't .Count() the number of times I've seen a line of code like this one:
if (someEnumerable.Count() > 0) 

I know I've done that myself a handful of times. I think it comes from the 3.5 days when you were used to dealing with ICollections that had a .Count property that returned the value of a private field:
public virtual int Count { get { return this._size; } }

When 3.5 came out, the System.Linq.Enumerable class brought with it a Count extension method. I believe it was at that point that people started using .Count() everywhere, including on IEnumerables, which previously didn't have a method for getting the length of the enumerable.

Most of the time, there was very little pain because the engineers over at Microsoft were clever enough to help us out. The first thing they try to do in the .Count extension method is check to see if the IEnumerable is an ICollection. If it is, they just use the Count property which we already know is plenty fast; however, if it's not an ICollection, they have to iterate the Enumerable and count the elements.

Here's what that looks like:
public static int Count<TSource>(this IEnumerable<TSource> source)
  if (source == null)
    throw Error.ArgumentNull("source");

  ICollection<TSource> collection1 = source as ICollection<TSource>;
  if (collection1 != null)
    return collection1.Count;

  ICollection collection2 = source as ICollection;
  if (collection2 != null)
    return collection2.Count;

  int num = 0;
  using (IEnumerator enumerator = source.GetEnumerator())
    while (enumerator.MoveNext())
      checked { ++num; }
  return num;

If your source is indeed an Enumerable, this is still a fine way to find out how many items there are. The problem is, in the sample code where we're just simply checking to ensure that the Enumerable isn't empty, using .Count can prove costly. Checking that the count is greater than 0 has to enumerate the entire collection and count each item despite the fact that we know it's not empty as soon as we spot the first element.

Fortunately, the clever folks at Microsoft thought of this and also gave us .Any(). This extension method simply gets the Enumerator, calls .MoveNext(), and disposes the Enumerator. MoveNext tries to move to the next element in the collection and returns true until it passes the end of the collection.

Here's what the .Any() method looks like:
public static bool Any(this IEnumerable<TSource> source)
  if (source == null)
    throw Error.ArgumentNull("source");

  using (IEnumerator<TSource> enumerator = source.GetEnumerator())
    if (enumerator.MoveNext())
      return true;

  return false;

Thus, there's no need to Enumerate the entire Enumerable if you can use .Any() like this refactored code:
if (someEnumerable.Any()) 

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