I'd been using this form for a while now with the functional methods map, filter, reduce:

// For example...
$result = array_reduce(array_map(function($value) {
    return explode('-', $value);
}, $input), function($carry, $item) {
    return array_merge($carry, $item);
}, array());

The array_reduce() part, where I need to collapse depth in the result. So I was thinking about this, and this is what I came up with. It actually works as a callback to array_reduce() too:

 * Flatten a multi-dimensional array to a single-level array,
 * sorting the entries in order to depth first.
 * @param array $carry Array to initialize, will be the subject if the only argument passed.
 * @param mixed $subject Optional Array or value that has data in potential multi-dimensions.
 * @return array
function array_flatten(?array $carry = [], $subject = null): array
    return array_reduce((array) ($subject ?? $carry), function(array $carry, $item) {
        return is_array($item)
            ? array_flatten($carry, $item) 
            : array_merge($carry, (array) $item);
    }, $subject !== null ? (array) $carry : []); // Don't merge onto the $subject...


Thing is, the way it works, I think it literally goes one level further than there are levels to traverse. The reason I think this is because the array_merge() is getting passed a "boxed" element. So the way I'm adding to the array is to box/unbox an array wrapper so it can be merged.

That seems like the most amount of extra effort for one little thing; it happens to every non-array it comes across. Questioning whether I should use it.

It can be called like array_reduce():

array_reduce([1,2,[3,[4]],5], 'array_flatten');

Or more likely:


Is this something I should avoid?


PHP already has a native function for this task.

array_walk_recursive() traverses your "leaf nodes" for you in one step:

Code: (Demo)



array (
  0 => 'A',
  1 => 'B',
  2 => 'CC',
  3 => 'CCCC',
  4 => 'CCCCCC',
  5 => 'DDD',
  6 => 'EFG',
  7 => 'HIJ',
  8 => 'LMNOP',
  9 => '2',
  10 => 'b',
| improve this answer | |

I don't see the benefit of being able to call array_flatten() from array_reduce(). If there is an important use, please let me know as I'd like to be educated on this point. My code to follow cannot be called like this: array_reduce([1,2,[3,[4]],5], 'array_flatten'); as yours was designed to do.

I have made a few modifications and have a php<7 friendly version to offer... more specifically, I've omitted the type (and nullable) declarations and null coalescing operator so that PHP<7 versions can use the snippet. I'm not suggesting that your type declarations are a bad idea, I only mean to make the function more usable to a wider audience.

Code: (Demo)


function array_flatten($array,$accumulator=[]){
    return array_reduce($array,function($carry,$item){
        return is_array($item) ? array_flatten($item,$carry) : array_merge($carry,[$item]);
    }, $accumulator);
| improve this answer | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ There isn't a benefit, it's just that it fits the same signature. That was for the recursion. \$\endgroup\$ – Jared Farrish Oct 2 '17 at 13:30

If you're just working on arrays this might satisfy your functional urge for selecting out of a deep data structure:

function recursive_select(
    callable $callback,
    $flag = RecursiveIteratorIterator::SELF_FIRST,
    $preserve_keys = FALSE
) {
    return iterator_to_array(new CallbackFilterIterator(
        new RecursiveIteratorIterator(
            new RecursiveArrayIterator($data),
    ), $preserve_keys);

Usage here: https://3v4l.org/TDIvu

$array = array(1,2,[3,4],5,'six',array(array('78',9)),10);

$multi_output = recursive_select($multi, function ($value, $key, $iterator) : bool {
  return is_string($value);

$array_output = recursive_select($array, function ($value, $key, $iterator) : bool {
    return is_numeric($value) || is_string($value);

var_dump($multi_output, $array_output);


    [0] => A
    [1] => B
    [2] => CC
    [3] => CCCC
    [4] => CCCCCC
    [5] => DDD
    [6] => EFG
    [7] => HIJ
    [8] => LMNOP
    [9] => 2
    [10] => b
    [0] => 1
    [1] => 2
    [2] => 3
    [3] => 4
    [4] => 5
    [5] => six
    [6] => 78
    [7] => 9
    [8] => 10

If you need something that works like that on objects and arrays I've got a version for that, its not a quite a one liner though because behaviour changed subtly in RecursiveArrayIterator between PHP 5 and 7 despite what the PHP documentation says on this :|

The $iterator parameter has a method on it called getDepth() which can be used for fetching from a particular level within the comparison function

| improve this answer | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry for the late response. I like it, with the only quibble I have being that the $callback requires a signature that embeds a requirement the function itself doesn't have, which makes it feel weird to me. So it really feels like syntactic glue. \$\endgroup\$ – Jared Farrish Dec 3 '17 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The signature of the callable of recursive_select is compatible with array_filter rather than array_reduce, if you wanted to accumulate I'd suggest filtering with recursive_select and then accumulating after, filtering and accumulating in the same loop with array_reduce is closer to common foreach behaviour imo, where as the result of array_filter/recursive_select forces you to name your selection, which means it's easy to do multiple operations on it, whilst inside array_reduce accumulation and filtering is tightly coupled and hard to pass outside the function in a non accumulated fashion \$\endgroup\$ – arcanine Dec 11 '17 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ That said, there can always be other things to consider like performance , or you may know you will not need access to the filtered data ever again, context trumps all if you're not ignorant to the trade offs being made, personally I err on the side of profiling first and being ready for code mutations that will need to occur in the future \$\endgroup\$ – arcanine Dec 11 '17 at 13:45

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