Finding the Lowest or Highest Number with PHP

Written by Mark Sanborn: May 16, 2008

Recently I was writing a script and ran into a problem. I needed to compare a set of numbers and find the lowest one. Now, at first I thought that I could compare each one with if statements but I knew there had to be a better way (there always is). If you have 1000 numbers you would never be able to write all that code to work efficiently.

Fortunately PHP provides the two functions that I needed. One function for finding the lowest number in a dataset and one function to find the highest.

Finding the Lowest Number

echo min(2, 3, 1, 6, 7);  //  PHP would print '1'.

You can also determine the lowest number in an array:

echo min($someArray);

Finding the Highest Number

As you may have guessed we will use the opposite of min, Max.

echo max(2, 3, 1, 6, 7);  //  PHP would print '7'.

A Practical Example

I mentioned that I need to find the lowest number in a data set in one of my scripts. The script was a rate comparison tool that utilized two functions that I created for querying rates from both UPS and The US Postal Service. I wanted to simply highlight the lowest rate. I utilized PHP’s min function as I briefly described above.

<?php
lowestRate = min($UPSGroundRate,$USPSPriorityRate,$USPSParcelRate,$USPSFlatRate);
?>

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