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C# 5.0 Unleashed by Bart De Smet

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Metadata

The last piece in the puzzle to turn assemblies to execution is metadata. It describes all the types contained in the defined assembly in excruciating detail so that the runtime can set up the required infrastructure to make execution possible. Tools also benefit from having self-describing assemblies. The whole metadata system provided by the CLI is in fact much like a relational database of related pieces of data, which makes it possible to query various kinds of relationships. For instance, given a type, it’s easy to find all its members, and the reverse relationship is equally easy to traverse. The .NET library that makes introspection of types possible at runtime is called Reflection.

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