  Bitwise Operators Error Control Operators  Last updated: Tue, 19 Sep 2006

# 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.

Table 15-4. Comparison Operators

ExampleNameResult
\$a == \$bEqualTRUE if \$a is equal to \$b.
\$a === \$bIdentical TRUE if \$a is equal to \$b, and they are of the same type. (introduced in PHP 4)
\$a != \$bNot equalTRUE if \$a is not equal to \$b.
\$a <> \$bNot equalTRUE if \$a is not equal to \$b.
\$a !== \$bNot identical TRUE if \$a is not equal to \$b, or they are not of the same type. (introduced in PHP 4)
\$a < \$bLess thanTRUE if \$a is strictly less than \$b.
\$a > \$bGreater thanTRUE if \$a is strictly greater than \$b.
\$a <= \$bLess than or equal to TRUE if \$a is less than or equal to \$b.
\$a >= \$bGreater than or equal to TRUE if \$a is greater than or equal to \$b.

If you compare an integer with a string, the string is converted to a number. If you compare two numerical strings, they are compared as integers. These rules also apply to the switch statement.

 ``` true var_dump("1" == "01"); // 1 == 1 -> true switch ("a") { case 0: echo "0"; break; case "a": // never reached because "a" is already matched with 0 echo "a"; break; } ?>```

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

Table 15-5. Comparison with Various Types

Type of Operand 1Type of Operand 2Result
null or stringstringConvert NULL to "", numerical or lexical comparison
bool or nullanythingConvert to bool, FALSE < TRUE
objectobjectBuilt-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 numberstring, resource or numberTranslate strings and resources to numbers, usual math
arrayarrayArray 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)
arrayanythingarray is always greater
objectanythingobject is always greater

Example 15-2. Transcription of standard array comparison

 ``` 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.

## Ternary Operator

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

Example 15-3. Assigning a default value

 ``````
The expression (expr1) ? (expr2) : (expr3) evaluates to expr2 if expr1 evaluates to TRUE, and expr3 if expr1 evaluates to FALSE.

Note: Please note that the ternary operator is a statement, and that it doesn't evaluate to a variable, but to the result of a statement. 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: Is 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 15-4. Non-obvious Ternary Behaviour

 `````` Bitwise Operators Error Control Operators  Last updated: Tue, 19 Sep 2006