Tag Archives: Data structures

Thing to Know About PHP Arrays

Consider the following case. We have an array with identical keys.

$arr = array(1 => 10, 1 => 11);

What happens when the interpreter reaches this line of code? This is not a syntax error and it is completely valid. Very similar, but more interesting case is when we have an array of identical keys, where those identical keys are represented once as an integer and then as a string.

Keys in PHP arrays are not type sensitive, so pay attention when using them!
Keys in PHP arrays are not type sensitive, so pay attention when using them!

$arr = array(1 => 10, "1" => 11);

Now several questions arise. First of all, how many elements have this array? Two or one. This can be easily verified by checking what count() will return. Continue reading Thing to Know About PHP Arrays

Using PHP’s array_diff in Algorithm Development

array_diff can be really powerful. Once you’ve to find the different elements between two arrays you’ve to use array_diff. Here’s a case when you can use it while coding a simple algorithm.

The Task

You’ve one array with tickets of linked destinations – so you start from one city to another, than next and so on. Each element is an array with “from” and “to” destinations:

$inputTickets = array(
    0 => array('from' => 'barcelona', 'to' => 'madrid'),
    1 => array('from' => 'sofia', 'to' => 'paris'),
    2 => array('from' => 'madrid', 'to' => 'milano'),
    3 => array('from' => 'paris', 'to' => 'barcelona'),
    4 => array('from' => 'cupertino', 'to' => 'sofia'),
    5 => array('from' => 'milano', 'to' => 'valencia'),
    6 => array('from' => 'valencia', 'to' => 'nice'),
    7 => array('from' => 'mountain view', 'to' => 'cupertino'),

It’s easy to construct two arrays – the “from” destinations array and the “to” destinations array, and here the easiest way to get the starting point of the whole trip, because of the fact that these are linked tickets.

$fromDestinations = $toDestinations = array();
foreach ($inputTickets as $k => $v) {
    $fromDestinations[] = $v['from'];
    $toDestinations[]   = $v['to'];
// and finally get the starting point
$startPoint = array_diff($fromDestinations, $toDestinations);


Beside of knowing several algorithm techniques, there’s also need of knowing the language syntax and possibilities – in that case PHP’s

PHP: What is More Powerful Than list() – Perhaps extract()

list() in PHP

Recently I wrote about list() in PHP which is indeed very powerful when assigning variable values from array elements.

$a = array(10, array('here', 'are', 'some', 'tests'));
list($count, $list) = $a;

Actually my example in the post was not correct, because I wrote that you can pass an associative array, but the truth is that you cannot, and thus the array should be always with numeric keys. After noticing the comments of that post, and thanks to @Philip,  I searched a bit about how this problem can be overcome.

There is a Solution

As always PHP gives a perfect solution! You can see on the list() doc page that there is a function that may help you use an associative array.


extract() is perhaps less known than list(), but it does the right thing!

$a = array('count' => 10, 'list' => array('here', 'are', 'some', 'tests'));
echo $count;    // 10
print_r($list); // array('here'....

Note that now both $count and $list are defined.

Friday Algorithms: A Data Structure: JavaScript Stack

Algorithms and Data Structures


Instead of writing about “pure” algorithms this time I’ve decided to write about data structures and to start with a stack implementation in JavaScript. However algorithms and data structures live together since the very beginning of the computer sciences. Another reason to write about data structures is that many algorithms need a specific data structure to be implemented. Most of the search algorithms are data structure dependent. You know that searching into a tree is different from searching into a linked list.

I’d like to write more about searching in my future algorithm posts, but first we need some data structure examples. The first one is, as I mentioned – stack.

Implemented in JavaScript this is really a simple example, which don’t need much to be understood. But in first place what is a stack?

You can thing of the “computer science” stack as a stack of sheets of paper, as it’s shown on the picture. You’ve three basic operations. You can add new element to the stack by putting it on the top of the stack, so the previous top of the stack becomes the second element in the stack. Another operation is to “pop” from the stack – remove the “first” element in the stack – the top most element, and to return it. And finally print the stack. This is difficult to define as an operation, but let say you’ve to show somehow every element from the stack.

Here’s a little diagram:


Source Code

At the end some source code:

var node = function()
    var data;
    var next = null;
var stack = function()
    this.top = null;
    this.push = function(data) {
        if (this.top == null) {
            this.top = new node();
            this.top.data = data;
        } else {
            var temp = new node();
            temp.data = data;
            temp.next = this.top;
            this.top = temp;
    this.pop = function() {
        var temp = this.top;
        var data = this.top.data;
        this.top = this.top.next;
        temp = null;
        return data;
    this.print = function() {
        var node = this.top;
        while (node != null) {
            node = node.next;
var s = new stack();
var a = s.pop();