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How do the PHP equality (== double equals) and identity (=== triple equals) comparison operators differ?


Question

What is the difference between == and === in PHP?

What would be some useful examples?


Additionally, how are these operators used in JavaScript? Are they related to PHP?

2020/08/20
1
510
8/20/2020 4:40:21 AM

Accepted Answer

Difference between == and ===

The difference between the loosely == equal operator and the strict === identical operator is exactly explained in the manual:

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. │
└──────────┴───────────┴───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Loosely == equal comparison

If you are using the == operator, or any other comparison operator which uses loosely comparison such as !=, <> or ==, you always have to look at the context to see what, where and why something gets converted to understand what is going on.

Converting rules

Type comparison table

As reference and example you can see the comparison table in the manual:

Loose comparisons with ==

┌─────────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬─────────┬───────┬───────┐
│         │ TRUE  │ FALSE │   1   │   0   │  -1   │  "1"  │  "0"  │ "-1"  │ NULL  │ array() │ "php" │  ""   │
├─────────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼─────────┼───────┼───────┤
│ TRUE    │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ TRUE  │ FALSE │
│ FALSE   │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ TRUE    │ FALSE │ TRUE  │
│ 1       │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ 0       │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE   │ TRUE  │ TRUE  │
│ -1      │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "1"     │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "0"     │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "-1"    │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ NULL    │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ TRUE    │ FALSE │ TRUE  │
│ array() │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ TRUE    │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "php"   │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ TRUE  │ FALSE │
│ ""      │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ TRUE  │
└─────────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴─────────┴───────┴───────┘

Strict === identical comparison

If you are using the === operator, or any other comparison operator which uses strict comparison such as !== or ===, then you can always be sure that the types won't magically change, because there will be no converting going on. So with strict comparison the type and value have to be the same, not only the value.

Type comparison table

As reference and example you can see the comparison table in the manual:

Strict comparisons with ===

┌─────────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬───────┬─────────┬───────┬───────┐
│         │ TRUE  │ FALSE │   1   │   0   │  -1   │  "1"  │  "0"  │ "-1"  │ NULL  │ array() │ "php" │  ""   │
├─────────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼───────┼─────────┼───────┼───────┤
│ TRUE    │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ FALSE   │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ 1       │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ 0       │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ -1      │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "1"     │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "0"     │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "-1"    │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ NULL    │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE  │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ array() │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ TRUE    │ FALSE │ FALSE │
│ "php"   │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ TRUE  │ FALSE │
│ ""      │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE │ FALSE   │ FALSE │ TRUE  │
└─────────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴───────┴─────────┴───────┴───────┘
2016/04/13
639
4/13/2016 6:59:05 AM

The operator == casts between two different types if they are different, while the === operator performs a 'typesafe comparison'. That means that it will only return true if both operands have the same type and the same value.

Examples:

1 === 1: true
1 == 1: true
1 === "1": false // 1 is an integer, "1" is a string
1 == "1": true // "1" gets casted to an integer, which is 1
"foo" === "foo": true // both operands are strings and have the same value

Warning: two instances of the same class with equivalent members do NOT match the === operator. Example:

$a = new stdClass();
$a->foo = "bar";
$b = clone $a;
var_dump($a === $b); // bool(false)
2017/03/12

A picture is worth a thousand words:

PHP Double Equals == equality chart:

enter image description here

PHP Triple Equals === Equality chart:

enter image description here

Source code to create these images:

https://github.com/sentientmachine/php_equality_charts

Guru Meditation

Those who wish to keep their sanity, read no further because none of this will make any sense, except to say that this is how the insanity-fractal, of PHP was designed.

  1. NAN != NAN but NAN == true.
  2. == will convert left and right operands to numbers if left is a number. So 123 == "123foo", but "123" != "123foo"
  3. A hex string in quotes is occasionally a float, and will be surprise cast to float against your will, causing a runtime error.

  4. == is not transitive because "0"== 0, and 0 == "" but "0" != ""

  5. PHP Variables that have not been declared yet are false, even though PHP has a way to represent undefined variables, that feature is disabled with ==.
  6. "6" == " 6", "4.2" == "4.20", and "133" == "0133" but 133 != 0133. But "0x10" == "16" and "1e3" == "1000" exposing that surprise string conversion to octal will occur both without your instruction or consent, causing a runtime error.

  7. False == 0, "", [] and "0".

  8. When numbers are big enough they are == Infinity.

  9. A fresh class is == to 1.

  10. False is the most dangerous value because False is == to most of the other variables, mostly defeating it's purpose.

Hope:

If you are using PHP, Thou shalt not use the double equals operator because if you use triple equals, the only edge cases to worry about are NAN and numbers so close to infinity that they are cast to infinity. With double equals, anything can be surprise == to anything or, or can be surprise casted against your will and != to something of which it should obviously be equal.

Anywhere you use == in PHP is a bad code smell because of the 85 bugs in it exposed by implicit casting rules that seem designed by millions of programmers programming by brownian motion.

2019/03/04

In regards to JavaScript:

The === operator works the same as the == operator, but it requires that its operands have not only the same value, but also the same data type.

For example, the sample below will display 'x and y are equal', but not 'x and y are identical'.

var x = 4;
var y = '4';
if (x == y) {
    alert('x and y are equal');
}
if (x === y) {
    alert('x and y are identical');
}
2016/01/03

An addition to the other answers concerning object comparison:

== compares objects using the name of the object and their values. If two objects are of the same type and have the same member values, $a == $b yields true.

=== compares the internal object id of the objects. Even if the members are equal, $a !== $b if they are not exactly the same object.

class TestClassA {
    public $a;
}

class TestClassB {
    public $a;
}

$a1 = new TestClassA();
$a2 = new TestClassA();
$b = new TestClassB();

$a1->a = 10;
$a2->a = 10;
$b->a = 10;

$a1 == $a1;
$a1 == $a2;  // Same members
$a1 != $b;   // Different classes

$a1 === $a1;
$a1 !== $a2; // Not the same object
2010/08/16

It's all about data types. Take a BOOL (true or false) for example:

true also equals 1 and false also equals 0

The == does not care about the data types when comparing: So if you had a variable that is 1 (which could also be true):

$var=1;

And then compare with the ==:

if ($var == true)
{
    echo"var is true";
}

But $var does not actually equal true, does it? It has the int value of 1 instead, which in turn, is equal to true.

With ===, the data types are checked to make sure the two variables/objects/whatever are using the same type.

So if I did

if ($var === true)
{
    echo "var is true";
}

that condition would not be true, as $var !== true it only == true (if you know what I mean).

Why would you need this?

Simple - let's take a look at one of PHP's functions: array_search():

The array_search() function simply searches for a value in an array, and returns the key of the element the value was found in. If the value could not be found in the array, it returns false. But, what if you did an array_search() on a value that was stored in the first element of the array (which would have the array key of 0)....the array_search() function would return 0...which is equal to false..

So if you did:

$arr = array("name");
if (array_search("name", $arr) == false)
{
    // This would return 0 (the key of the element the val was found
    // in), but because we're using ==, we'll think the function
    // actually returned false...when it didn't.
}

So, do you see how this could be an issue now?

Most people don't use == false when checking if a function returns false. Instead, they use the !. But actually, this is exactly the same as using ==false, so if you did:

$arr = array("name");
if (!array_search("name", $arr)) // This is the same as doing (array_search("name", $arr) == false)

So for things like that, you would use the === instead, so that the data type is checked.

2016/01/03

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/80646
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