## Comparison Operators

Comparison operators, as their name implies, allow you to compare two values. You may also be interested in viewing the type comparison tables, as they show examples of various type related comparisons.

Comparison Operators
Example Name Result
\$a == \$b Equal `TRUE` if \$a is equal to \$b after type juggling.
\$a === \$b Identical `TRUE` if \$a is equal to \$b, and they are of the same type.
\$a != \$b Not equal `TRUE` if \$a is not equal to \$b after type juggling.
\$a <> \$b Not equal `TRUE` if \$a is not equal to \$b after type juggling.
\$a !== \$b Not identical `TRUE` if \$a is not equal to \$b, or they are not of the same type.
\$a < \$b Less than `TRUE` if \$a is strictly less than \$b.
\$a > \$b Greater than `TRUE` if \$a is strictly greater than \$b.
\$a <= \$b Less than or equal to `TRUE` if \$a is less than or equal to \$b.
\$a >= \$b Greater than or equal to `TRUE` if \$a is greater than or equal to \$b.
\$a <=> \$b Spaceship An integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero when \$a is respectively less than, equal to, or greater than \$b. Available as of PHP 7.
\$a ?? \$b ?? \$c Null coalesce The first operand from left to right that exists and is not `NULL`. `NULL` if no values are defined and not `NULL`. Available as of PHP 7.

If you compare a number with a string or the comparison involves numerical strings, then each string is converted to a number and the comparison performed numerically. These rules also apply to the switch statement. The type conversion does not take place when the comparison is === or !== as this involves comparing the type as well as the value.

``` <?phpvar_dump(0 == "a"); // 0 == 0 -> truevar_dump("1" == "01"); // 1 == 1 -> truevar_dump("10" == "1e1"); // 10 == 10 -> truevar_dump(100 == "1e2"); // 100 == 100 -> trueswitch ("a") {case 0:    echo "0";    break;case "a": // never reached because "a" is already matched with 0    echo "a";    break;}?> ```
``` <?php  // Integersecho 1 <=> 1; // 0echo 1 <=> 2; // -1echo 2 <=> 1; // 1 // Floatsecho 1.5 <=> 1.5; // 0echo 1.5 <=> 2.5; // -1echo 2.5 <=> 1.5; // 1 // Stringsecho "a" <=> "a"; // 0echo "a" <=> "b"; // -1echo "b" <=> "a"; // 1 echo "a" <=> "aa"; // -1echo "zz" <=> "aa"; // 1 // Arraysecho [] <=> []; // 0echo [1, 2, 3] <=> [1, 2, 3]; // 0echo [1, 2, 3] <=> []; // 1echo [1, 2, 3] <=> [1, 2, 1]; // 1echo [1, 2, 3] <=> [1, 2, 4]; // -1 // Objects\$a = (object) ["a" => "b"]; \$b = (object) ["a" => "b"]; echo \$a <=> \$b; // 0 \$a = (object) ["a" => "b"]; \$b = (object) ["a" => "c"]; echo \$a <=> \$b; // -1 \$a = (object) ["a" => "c"]; \$b = (object) ["a" => "b"]; echo \$a <=> \$b; // 1 // only values are compared\$a = (object) ["a" => "b"]; \$b = (object) ["b" => "b"]; echo \$a <=> \$b; // 1?> ```

For various types, comparison is done according to the following table (in order).

Comparison with Various Types
Type of Operand 1 Type of Operand 2 Result
null or string string Convert `NULL` to "", numerical or lexical comparison
bool or null anything Convert both sides to bool, `FALSE` < `TRUE`
object object Built-in classes can define its own comparison, different classes are uncomparable, same class - compare properties the same way as arrays (PHP 4), PHP 5 has its own explanation
string, resource or number string, resource or number Translate strings and resources to numbers, usual math
array array Array with fewer members is smaller, if key from operand 1 is not found in operand 2 then arrays are uncomparable, otherwise - compare value by value (see following example)
object anything object is always greater
array anything array is always greater

Example #1 Boolean/null comparison

``` <?php// Bool and null are compared as bool alwaysvar_dump(1 == TRUE);  // TRUE - same as (bool)1 == TRUEvar_dump(0 == FALSE); // TRUE - same as (bool)0 == FALSEvar_dump(100 < TRUE); // FALSE - same as (bool)100 < TRUEvar_dump(-10 < FALSE);// FALSE - same as (bool)-10 < FALSEvar_dump(min(-100, -10, NULL, 10, 100)); // NULL - (bool)NULL < (bool)-100 is FALSE < TRUE?> ```

Example #2 Transcription of standard array comparison

``` <?php// Arrays are compared like this with standard comparison operatorsfunction standard_array_compare(\$op1, \$op2){    if (count(\$op1) < count(\$op2)) {        return -1; // \$op1 < \$op2    } elseif (count(\$op1) > count(\$op2)) {        return 1; // \$op1 > \$op2    }    foreach (\$op1 as \$key => \$val) {        if (!array_key_exists(\$key, \$op2)) {            return null; // uncomparable        } elseif (\$val < \$op2[\$key]) {            return -1;        } elseif (\$val > \$op2[\$key]) {            return 1;        }    }    return 0; // \$op1 == \$op2}?> ```

See also strcasecmp(), strcmp(), Array operators, and the manual section on Types.

Warning

# Comparison of floating point numbers

Because of the way floats are represented internally, you should not test two floats for equality.

### Ternary Operator

Another conditional operator is the "?:" (or ternary) operator.

Example #3 Assigning a default value

``` <?php// Example usage for: Ternary Operator\$action = (empty(\$_POST['action'])) ? 'default' : \$_POST['action'];// The above is identical to this if/else statementif (empty(\$_POST['action'])) {    \$action = 'default';} else {    \$action = \$_POST['action'];}?> ```
The expression (expr1) ? (expr2) : (expr3) evaluates to expr2 if expr1 evaluates to `TRUE`, and expr3 if expr1 evaluates to `FALSE`.

Since PHP 5.3, it is possible to leave out the middle part of the ternary operator. Expression expr1 ?: expr3 returns expr1 if expr1 evaluates to `TRUE`, and expr3 otherwise.

Note: Please note that the ternary operator is an expression, and that it doesn't evaluate to a variable, but to the result of an expression. This is important to know if you want to return a variable by reference. The statement return \$var == 42 ? \$a : \$b; in a return-by-reference function will therefore not work and a warning is issued in later PHP versions.

Note:

It is recommended that you avoid "stacking" ternary expressions. PHP's behaviour when using more than one ternary operator within a single statement is non-obvious:

Example #4 Non-obvious Ternary Behaviour

``` <?php// on first glance, the following appears to output 'true'echo (true?'true':false?'t':'f');// however, the actual output of the above is 't'// this is because ternary expressions are evaluated from left to right// the following is a more obvious version of the same code as aboveecho ((true ? 'true' : false) ? 't' : 'f');// here, you can see that the first expression is evaluated to 'true', which// in turn evaluates to (bool)true, thus returning the true branch of the// second ternary expression.?> ```