Multidimensional arrays - Getting a value without loops


I have an array like the following:

$array = array(
	0 => array(
		'user' => 1,
		'name' => 'Name 1',
	1 => array(
		'user' => 2,
		'name' => 'Name 2',
	2 => array(
		'user' => 3,
		'name' => 'Name 3',

I want to get the name value from the above array for given user value, but without using loops, if it is possible -I know how to do it with loops-. In other words, return the value of name for the given value of user.

Ex: I will give 2 as the user value, and I want to get Name 2. Or, I will give 3 as user value, and I want to get Name 3.

Is this possible without using loops? Maybe with array functions or something.


array_filter() and array_column() come to mind.

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Looking for this?

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Thanks for the tip, but I just couldn’t connect the dots.

I can get an array of names using:

$names = array_column($array, 'name');

But how does array_filter come into play so that I can get the name of a given user?

according to the documentation

array_filter expects the array and a function to determine which items are valid. So you could filter the array on all names that have a specific user, just return if the user matches your requirement and you get the item back. You may use currying to have a generalized version of this.

Possibly it is easier to take array_column on both values and array_combine them, so you can just use the user as an index for an array, if the user is unique.

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You can achieve that with one call to array_column() by using the third parameter.

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Thank you, that gave me an idea to modify how I get the array from the DB, so that I can use user as index, as you suggested. Though what I did is not the exact answer to my question above, I believe it is more efficient in this case, and it does the job. If I ever need to use this where there is no DB, then I will go back to your suggestion of using array_column to create a new array with assigned keys (or array_filter, which I still couldn’t figure out how to do).

So, instead of getting the array with… key values that are assigned automatically like this:

while ($w = $r->fetch_assoc()) $array[] = $w;

I changed it to use user column as key values:

while ($w = $r->fetch_assoc()) $array[$w['user']] = $w;

So that, I can now use user value as index where I need the name values, simply:

$user = 2;

// Returns: Name 2

If you were using PDO, it would do that out-of-the-box:

$array = $stmt->fetchAll(PDO::FETCH_KEY_PAIR);
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Thanks for the tip, I intend to move to PDO, sooner or later.

Other useful PDO fetch modes to keep in mind:

  • PDO::FETCH_GROUP (similar to what SQL’s GROUP BY does, only without aggregation)
  • PDO::FETCH_UNIQUE (index each row using its first column’s value)
  • PDO::FETCH_CLASS (convert each row into an instance of the given class)
  • PDO::FETCH_COLUMN (return value instead of row)

nice hint, thx.

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