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The Wikipedia definition for reflection in computer science is: "The process by which a computer program can observe and modify its own structure and behavior. The programming paradigm driven by reflection is called reflective programming".
The concept is implemented extensively in .NET because a lot of information is maintained at the common intermediate language (CIL) level.
Among other things you can:
- get information about running assembly or assembly constituents (modules, classes, methods, etc.), this is particularly useful for dynamically loaded assemblies that are not known at compile time.
- put custom attributes in your code and retrieve those attributes at run time.
- dynamically invoke methods.
- "emit" and execute CIL code at run time.