Questions & Answers

How to get the length of longest string in an array

Say I have this array:

$array[] = 'foo';
$array[] = 'apple';
$array[] = '1234567890;

I want to get the length of the longest string in this array. In this case the longest string is 1234567890 and its length is 10.

Is this possible without looping through the array and checking each element?

Answers(6) :


$maxlen = max(array_map('strlen', $ary));
2023-01-18 23:01:19
@ClickUpvote it's called functional programming, and yes, it's beautiful.
2023-01-18 23:01:19
@Tobia If you are saying that "strlen" is beautiful, you should look at JavaScript that passes strlen directly or Java that passes ::strlen instead. Passing strings as callables is the source of a lot of language design problems in PHP.

Loop through the arrays and use strlen to verify if the current length is longer than the previous.. and save the index of the longest string in a variable and use it later where you need that index.

Something like this..

$longest = 0;
for($i = 0; $i < count($array); $i++)
  if($i > 0)
    if(strlen($array[$i]) > strlen($array[$longest]))
      $longest = $i;
2023-01-18 23:01:19
but the question clearly said "without looping through the array and checking each element?"
2023-01-18 23:01:19
basic mechanics of doing such a task is still "looping", using array_map() for example just make it transparent to the user.
2023-01-18 23:01:19
if you want to get a specified item from a set you will always have to loopthrough the set. In one way, or another. ;)


function getmax($array, $cur, $curmax) {
  return $cur >= count($array) ? $curmax :
    getmax($array, $cur + 1, strlen($array[$cur]) > strlen($array[$curmax])
           ? $cur : $curmax);

$index_of_longest = getmax($my_array, 0, 0);

No loop there. ;-)

2023-01-18 23:01:19
Disclaimer: I did understand that "no looping" in the question also implied "no recursion", but I could not resist...
2023-01-18 23:01:19
Great answer :P I would vote you up, had I not reached my vote limit for the day...

A small addition to the ticket. I came here with a similar problem: Often you have to output just the longest string in an array.

For this, you can also use the top solution and extend it a little:

$lengths       = array_map('strlen', $ary);
$longestString = $ary[array_search(max($lengths), $lengths)];

This way you can find the shortest (or longest) element, but not its index.

$shortest = array_reduce($array, function ($a, $b) {

    if ($a === null) {
        return $b;

    return strlen($a) < strlen($b) ? $a : $b;

you can use array_reduce to get the max length of string in array

$strings = array("Hello", "world", "this", "is", "a", "test");

$longest = array_reduce($strings, function($c, $v) {
 return max($c, strlen($v)); 
}, 0);

echo "The longest string has a length of $longest characters.";

In this example, $strings is an array of strings, and array_map() applies the strlen() function to each element of the array, resulting in an array of string lengths. Then max() function is used to find the maximum value in this array. The result is stored in the $longest variable and printed out.