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sorting – PHP usort reorders array the sort value is the same for all

Posted by: admin July 12, 2020 Leave a comment

Questions:

I’m using usort to sort an array with an associative array within each element.

When all of the values I am sorting on in the array are the same then it still changes the position of the elements in the array, is there a way to prevent this?

For example this:

array(
    array('name' => 'Ben', 'authn_weight' => 85.3),
    array('name' => 'Josh', 'authn_weight' => 85.3),
    array('name' => 'Fred', 'authn_weight' => 85.3)
);

May be changed to this:

array(
    array('name' => 'Josh', 'authn_weight' => 85.3),
    array('name' => 'Ben', 'authn_weight' => 85.3),
    array('name' => 'Fred', 'authn_weight' => 85.3)
);

This is the sort function:

private function weightSortImplementation($a, $b){ 
    $aWeight = $a['autn_weight'];
    $bWeight = $b['autn_weight'];

    if ($aWeight == $bWeight) {
        return 0;
    }
    return ($aWeight < $bWeight) ? 1 : -1;
}

I have checked that the weightSortImplementation function is always returning 0 showing that they are the same. So why is this still reordering the array?

How to&Answers:

Aha, a case for the Schwartzian Transform.

It basically consists of three steps:

  1. decorate; you turn every value into an array with the value as the first element and the key/index as the second
  2. sort (as per normal)
  3. undecorate; you reverse step 1

Here it is (I’ve tweaked it to your particular use case):

function decorate(&$v, $k)
{
    $v['authn_weight'] = array($v['authn_weight'], $k);
}

function undecorate(&$v, $k)
{
    $v['authn_weight'] = $v['authn_weight'][0];
}

array_walk($a, 'decorate');
usort($a, 'weightSortImplementation');
array_walk($a, 'undecorate');

The trick is in the following assertion:

array($x, 0) < array($x, 1)

This is what keeps the correct order of your array. And, no recursion required 🙂

Answer:

From the documentation:

If two members compare as equal, their relative order in the sorted array is undefined.

You can use this function [source] that preserves order in the case of two elements being equal:

function mergesort(&$array, $cmp_function = 'strcmp') {
    // Arrays of size < 2 require no action.
    if (count($array) < 2) return;
    // Split the array in half
    $halfway = count($array) / 2;
    $array1 = array_slice($array, 0, $halfway);
    $array2 = array_slice($array, $halfway);
    // Recurse to sort the two halves
    mergesort($array1, $cmp_function);
    mergesort($array2, $cmp_function);
    // If all of $array1 is <= all of $array2, just append them.
    if (call_user_func($cmp_function, end($array1), $array2[0]) < 1) {
        $array = array_merge($array1, $array2);
        return;
    }
    // Merge the two sorted arrays into a single sorted array
    $array = array();
    $ptr1 = $ptr2 = 0;
    while ($ptr1 < count($array1) && $ptr2 < count($array2)) {
        if (call_user_func($cmp_function, $array1[$ptr1], $array2[$ptr2]) < 1) {
            $array[] = $array1[$ptr1++];
        }
        else {
            $array[] = $array2[$ptr2++];
        }
    }
    // Merge the remainder
    while ($ptr1 < count($array1)) $array[] = $array1[$ptr1++];
    while ($ptr2 < count($array2)) $array[] = $array2[$ptr2++];
    return;
}