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PHP Array Length: How to Find Array Length in PHP [With Examples]

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9th Feb, 2024
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PHP Array Length: How to Find Array Length in PHP [With Examples]

What Are PHP Arrays?

  • In PHP, we implement the array of an assigned Map.
  • A map is a conceptual data type of key-value pairs, we can consider it as an interface.
  • We can implement a map in various ways For Example: HashTable, HashMap, Dictionary.
  • To know the depth of understanding, We can check the PHP source for Array and HashTable.
  • We can use the array to save the combination of data as per the scenarios and assign them to a particular variable name.
  • Each array item we can assign as a key and value pair.

Below is the example we can consider as key and value pair:


Note: we categorize Arrays as “indexed array” and “associative array” based on the key stipulation. The Indexed array has a default index that starts with ‘0’.The associative array includes the user-defined key index. We can use the keys for strings and natural numbers.

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How to create an Array in PHP?


  • An empty array


$emptyArray = array();


  • Single-dimensional array


$animals = array(“Bear”, “Leopard”, “Tiger”);

$arrLength = count($animals);

// loop through the array

for($i = 0; $i < $arrLength; $i++) {

    echo $animals[$i];

    echo “</ br>”;



  • Associative array


$animals = array(“Leopard”=>”Wild”, “Cow”=>”Domestic”, “Lion”=>”Wild”);

// loop through associative array and get key-value pairs

foreach($animals as $key => $value) {

    echo “Key=” . $key . “, Value=” . $value;

    echo “</br>”;



  • Two-dimensional array


//two-dimensional array definition declaration

$animals = array






// two-dimensional array iteration declaration

for ($row = 0; $row < 3; $row++) {

  echo “<p>Row number $row</p>”;

  echo “<ul>”;

  for ($col = 0; $col < 3; $col++) {

    echo “<li>”.$animals[$row][$col].”</li>”;


  echo “</ul>”;



  • Via loop


$animals = array();

for ($i = 0; $i < $count; $i++) {

    $animals[$i] = array

        ( $animalName[$i]

        , $animalType[$i]




  • Three-dimensional array


$threeDArray = array( 


        array(“Leopard”, “Lion”), 

        array(“Cow”, “Cat”), 



        array(“Mango”, “Grapes”), 

        array(“Cauliflower”, “Potato”), 




Below is the image as a perfect example for the three-dimensional array:


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PHP | sizeof() Function

The sizeof() function is a built-in function in PHP, and we can use it to count the number of elements present in an array countable object.


int sizeof(array, mode);

Parameter: As per the above syntax example, this function accepts two parameters.

  • array: This parameter defines the array which contains elements which we need to count.
  • mode: This is an optional parameter, and here we specify the mode of the function. It can take two types of values as per the below:
    • 0: It is default, does not count all elements of multidimensional arrays
    • 1: It Counts the array recursively (It counts all the elements with multidimensional arrays)

How to Check if a Value Exists in an Array in PHP

Check if the value exists in an array in PHP

Step 1 – Use the PHP in_array() function to test if a value exists in an array or not. 

Step 2 – Define the in_array() function 

As per the below code snippet Example:


$zoo = array(“Leopard”, “Tiger”, “Elephant”, “Zebra”, “Rhino”, “Dear”);

if(in_array(“Elephant”, $zoo)){

    echo “The elephant was found in the zoo.”;


echo “<br>”;

if(in_array(“Tiger”, $zoo)){

    echo “The tiger was found in the zoo.”;



Also Read: OOPS Concepts in PHP

In-Demand Software Development Skills

How to Count all Elements or Values in an Array in PHP

We can use the PHP count() or sizeof() function to get the particular number of elements or values in an array.

  • The count() and sizeof() function returns 0 for a variable that we can initialize with an empty array.
  • If we do not set the value for a variable, it returns 0.

Below is the code snippet:


$days = array(“Sun”, “Mon”, “Tue”, “Wed”, “Thu”, “Fri”, “Sat”); 

// Printing array size

echo count($days);

echo “<br>”;

echo sizeof($days);


How to Print or Echo all the Values of an Array in PHP

Use the PHP foreach loop.

  • For printing the array values here we have different ways 
  • The easiest method we have foreach loop

As per the below example, we are repeating the $colors array and print all its elements using the echo or print statement.

Below is the code snippet:


$colors = array(“Yellow”, “Purple”, “Red”, “Brown”, “Skyblue”);

// Loop through colors array

foreach($colors as $value){

    echo $value . “<br>”;



How to Display Array Structure and Values in PHP

Use the PHP print_r() or var_dump() Statement

  • For checking the structure and values of an array.
  • You can either use the PHP print_r() or var_dump() statement to see or check the structure and values of an array with an easily readable format on the screen.
  • The var_dump() statement provides better information than print_r().

Below is the code snippet example we can consider for this:


$cities = array(“Canada”, “Australia”, “New Jersey”); 

// Print the cities array


echo “<hr>”;



How to Remove the Last Element From an Array in PHP

Use the PHP array_pop() function

  • For removing the particular value or element from the end of an array.
  • The array_pop() function returns the last value of an array. 
  • If the array is empty (without element value in an array list), the returned value will be NULL.

Below is the code snippet Example to explain how this function runs:


$sports = array(“Tennis”, “Cricket”, “BasketBall”, “Badminton”);

// Deleting last array item

$removed = array_pop($sports);


echo “<br>”;



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Importance of Array Length in PHP

  • Iterating Through Arrays

When iterating through an array count in PHP or count in PHP, knowing its length helps in determining the number of iterations needed. By using a loop that runs from 0 to the array length minus one, we can easily access each element sequentially without exceeding the array boundaries. This prevents errors such as “out of bounds” or “undefined index” that may occur when accessing non-existent array elements.

  • Performing Calculations

In many of the scenarios where calculations involve array elements, the array length is indispensable. For instance, if we need to calculate the average of numerical values stored in an array, knowing the php word count or array length enables us to divide the total sum by the correct number of elements. Without this information, our calculations would be inaccurate.

  • Validating User Input

In web development, validating user input is crucial for ensuring data integrity and security. When processing form submissions or handling user-generated content, we often receive input as arrays, such as checkboxes or multiple select fields. By verifying the array length in PHP OR count in PHP, we can confirm whether the expected number of inputs has been provided, helping prevent data manipulation or injection attacks.

  • Dynamic Data Handling

PHP arrays are dynamic data structures that can grow or shrink in size during runtime. Understanding the array length allows us to adapt our code dynamically to accommodate changes in the data. Whether adding new elements or removing existing ones, being aware of the array length ensures that our operations are accurate and efficient.

Techniques for Handling Array Length

Handling PHP array length efficiently is crucial for effective programming in array count in PHP or PHP array count. Here are some techniques to manage array length effectively:

  • Count Function

One of the simplest techniques to handle PHP array length or count in php mysql is by using the count() function. This function returns the number of elements in an array, making it easy to determine the array’s length and PHP array count.

  • Caching Array Length

Instead of repeatedly calling the count() function, which can be inefficient for large arrays, you can cache the PHP array length in a variable. This reduces the overhead of recalculating the count in php mysql or website visitor counter in php each time it’s needed, improving performance.

  • Preallocating Arrays

When possible, preallocate arrays with a specific size rather than dynamically resizing them. This can be done using functions like array_fill() or by initializing arrays with a predefined number of elements. Preallocating helps optimize memory usage and improves performance.

  • Iterating Through Arrays

When iterating through arrays, it’s essential to use efficient loop structures such as for each or for loops. These loops allow you to access each element of the array without unnecessarily increasing the array length.

  • Array Functions

PHP provides various array functions that can help manipulate arrays efficiently. Functions like array_slice(), array_splice(), and array_chunk() enable you to extract, remove, or split arrays without affecting their length unnecessarily.

  • Avoiding Unnecessary Operations

Avoid performing unnecessary operations that can increase PHP array length or require recalculating it. Minimize array manipulations whenever possible to optimize performance and reduce the risk of errors.

  • Handling Multidimensional Arrays

When working with multidimensional arrays, pay attention to the length of each dimension. Use nested loops or recursive functions to traverse multidimensional arrays effectively while considering the length of array in PHP of each dimension.

  • Error Handling

Implement proper error handling mechanisms to deal with situations where array length may exceed expected limits or unexpected errors occur. This ensures robustness in your code and prevents unexpected behavior.

  • Optimizing Algorithm Complexity

Analyzing the algorithmic complexity of operations involving array length can help optimize performance. Choose algorithms and data structures that minimize the time complexity of array-related operations to improve overall efficiency.

  • Regular Maintenance

Regularly review and optimize your codebase to ensure efficient handling of array length. As your application evolves, reassessing how arrays are used and implementing improvements can lead to better performance and maintainability.

By employing these techniques, you can effectively handle array length in PHP, leading to more efficient and reliable code. Understanding when and how to manipulate array length is essential for writing high-quality PHP applications.

Best Practices for Utilizing Array Length

When working with array length in PHP, understanding and effectively utilizing the array length is crucial for writing efficient and bug-free code. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Use Built-in Functions to Retrieve Length

Instead of manually counting the elements in an array, PHP provides built-in functions like count() and sizeof() to obtain the array length. These functions are optimized for performance and ensure accurate results, saving you time and effort.

  • Cache Array Length for Performance

In situations where you need to access the array length in PHP multiple times within your code, consider storing the length in a variable. This caching technique prevents redundant calls to the length calculation function, enhancing the performance of your application, especially in loops or repetitive operations.

  • Handle Empty Arrays Gracefully

Before accessing the length of array in PHP, always check if the array is empty to avoid potential errors. You can use conditional statements like if (empty($array)) or if (count($array) === 0) to handle empty arrays gracefully and prevent unexpected behavior in your code.

  • Avoid Hardcoding Array Length

Hardcoding the length of array in PHP in your code can lead to maintenance issues and potential bugs, especially when the array size changes. Instead, rely on dynamic methods like built-in functions or variables to determine the array length, ensuring flexibility and scalability in your codebase.

  • Consider Array Traversal Techniques

When iterating over arrays, choose the appropriate traversal technique based on your specific requirements. For sequential access, a simple for loop may suffice, while associative arrays may benefit from for-each loops. Understanding the characteristics of each traversal method can optimize your code for readability and efficiency.

  • Optimize Array Manipulation Algorithms

When performing array operations like sorting, filtering, or merging, consider the time and space complexity of your algorithms. Utilize PHP’s array manipulation functions wisely, such as array_filter(), array_map(), or array_merge(), to achieve optimal performance without compromising code clarity.

  • Document Array Length Assumptions

In complex codebases or collaborative projects, document any assumptions regarding array length to ensure clarity and maintainability. Clearly state the expected length of array in PHP of arrays passed to functions or returned from operations, enabling other developers to understand and use your code effectively.

  • Test Edge Cases and Error Handling

Before deploying your code to production, thoroughly test it with various array lengths, including edge cases such as empty arrays or maximum array sizes. Implement robust error handling mechanisms to gracefully handle unexpected situations, such as invalid array inputs or out-of-bounds access attempts.

  • Refactor and Optimize as Needed

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As your code evolves and requirements change, periodically review and refactor your array-related logic to improve efficiency and maintainability. Look for opportunities to optimize array operations, simplify complex algorithms, and adhere to coding best practices for a more robust and scalable solution.

  • Stay Updated on PHP Features

Keep yourself informed about updates and enhancements in PHP, particularly regarding array handling functionalities. Stay updated with PHP documentation and community resources to leverage new features and optimizations that can further enhance your array manipulation capabilities.

By following these best practices, you can effectively utilize array length in PHP and write more efficient, reliable, and maintainable code.


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Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are arrays in PHP?

Arrays are useful data structures in PHP, which can be used to store multiple values under a single named variable, that too without any need of specifying the type of each individual value. Arrays are one of the fundamental data types in PHP. An array is a collection of elements which can be referenced by an index. You can add new elements, remove existing elements, or change the value stored in any element of an array.

2How to find the length of an array in PHP?

Finding the length of an array can be quite useful especially in cases where you want to loop through the array and fetch all or some elements inside it. If you want to find the length of an array in PHP, you can use the sizeof function and use the echo command along with it to print the length. The second method is using a function called: count(). This function differs in that it returns the number of elements in an array or object (not just their key values) and also counts the number of array levels in multidimensional arrays.

3What are some useful array functions in PHP?

PHP has a very rich set of core libraries. In PHP, we have an array of functions we can use to manipulate arrays in different ways without having to create a new function for specific cases. The most common array functions in PHP are: array_merge( $arrays ) - Combines two or more arrays, array_diff( $array1 , $array2 ) - Finds the difference between two arrays, array_map( $callback , $array ) - Creates an array by calling a user-defined function on every array element, array_filter( $array ) - Filters out all elements in an array that do not return true when passed to the callback function.

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