The Liskov Substitution Principle

The Liskov Substitution Principle

The Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP) is a design principle that ensures substitutability of objects in a program.

It emphasises that derived classes (subtypes) should be substitutable for their base classes (superclasses) in any context without affecting the program’s behaviour.

Understanding the Liskov Substitution Principle

The Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP) advocates for the creation of cohesive and well-defined class hierarchies.

It states that objects of a superclass should be replaceable with objects of its subclasses without altering the program’s correctness and functionality.

This principle promotes maintainability, flexibility, and code reliability.

Benefits of the Liskov Substitution Principle

Adhering to the Liskov Substitution Principle offers several advantages, including:

  • Maintainability: LSP ensures that changes made to the base class don’t propagate to unrelated subclasses, simplifying maintenance and reducing the risk of introducing bugs.
  • Flexibility: LSP allows for easier extensibility and modification of code, enabling developers to introduce new subclasses without breaking existing functionality.
  • Reliability: LSP promotes robust and reliable code by preventing unexpected behaviour when substituting objects of different classes.
  • Cohesiveness: LSP promotes cohesive class hierarchies, ensuring that classes are focused on related responsibilities.
  • Avoids Downcasting Issues: LSP eliminates the need for downcasting, making code more readable and understandable.

Types of Liskov Substitution Violations

The Liskov Substitution Principle can be violated in several ways, including:

  • Contravariance Violation: When a subclass’s method has a more restrictive parameter than its superclass’s method, leading to unexpected behaviour.
  • Covariance Violation: When a subclass’s method returns a more specific type than its superclass’s method, causing issues with method chaining.
  • Abstraction Violation: When a subclass overrides a superclass method and changes its behaviour to contradict the superclass’s intended purpose.
  • Hidden Dependencies: When a subclass depends on its superclass’s implementation details, it is challenging to substitute objects without altering the program’s behaviour.

Implementing the Liskov Substitution Principle in C#

To illustrate the implementation of the Liskov Substitution Principle in C#, consider a simplified scenario of managing different types of vehicles:

Base Class:

The base class defines common behaviour for all vehicles.

public class Vehicle
    public void Move()
        // Common movement logic for all vehicles

Derived Class:

The derived class inherits from the base class but violates the LSP by overriding a method and changing its behaviour significantly.

public class Car : Vehicle
    public override void Move()
        // Car-specific movement logic that conflicts with Vehicle's logic

This example demonstrates a basic violation of the Liskov Substitution Principle, where the overridden Move() method in the Car class conflicts with the expected behaviour of the Vehicle class.


The Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP) is a valuable guideline for designing maintainable, flexible, and reliable object-oriented code.

By adhering to this principle, developers can create cohesive class hierarchies that ensure the substitutability of objects without compromising program correctness and functionality.

This promotes code maintainability, simplifies modifications, and reduces the risk of introducing unexpected bugs.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.