How to Convert an Integer to an Array of Digits in PHP?

Find out how you can convert an integer to an array in PHP

Converting positive integers to an array of digits is fairly straightforward. However, the complication arises with negative integers, specifically in how you add the negative sign (-) to the resulting array. For example, following are a few options:

Make the Most Significant Digit Negative

Making the most significant digit negative means that in the resulting array, if the original number is negative, the first digit will have the negative sign:

// -12345 becomes [-1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

To convert an integer (positive or negative) in this way, to an array of digits, you can follow these steps:

  1. Convert number (or numeric string) to an array of numeric string digits using preg_match_all() with a regular expression ;
  2. Use array_map() to convert each array item to an integer, (by passing intval and array of matches as an argument to it).
function numToArray(int $num): array {
    $matches = [];
    // 1: use regex to match '-' (optionally) and numbers
    preg_match_all('/-?\d/', $num, $matches);
    // 2: convert each item to an integer
    return array_map('intval', $matches[0]);
}

var_dump(numToArray(12345)); // [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray(-12345)); // [-1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

var_dump(numToArray('12345')); // [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray('-12345')); // [-1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

It is safe to directly access $matches[0] in this case because the int typehint added to the function argument ensures $num is always an integer, which means that the regular expression is guaranteed to have at least one match and preg_match_all() will always return an array of arrays. When an argument of some other type is passed in, a TypeError will be thrown.

Add the Minus Sign as a String

Adding the minus sign (-) as a string means that in the resulting array, if the original number is negative, the first element of the array will have the minus sign as a string:

// -12345 becomes ['-', 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

To convert an integer (positive or negative) in this way, to an array of digits, you can follow these steps:

  1. Convert string to an array of numeric string characters using str_split();
  2. Use array_map() to go over each array item and cast to int (except if minus sign is found, in which case, it is added as is).
// PHP 7.4+
function numToArray(int $num): array {
    // 1: convert number (or numeric string) to array of numeric string digits
    $numericArr = str_split($num);
    // 2: convert each array item to an integer (and add '-' as is if present)
    return array_map(fn ($currNum) => (
        ($currNum === '-') ? '-' : (int) $currNum
    ), $numericArr);
}

var_dump(numToArray(12345)); // [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray(-12345)); // ['-', 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

var_dump(numToArray('12345')); // [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray('-12345')); // ['-', 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

If you're using a version of PHP prior to 7.4, then you can use a regular function instead of the arrow function syntax.

Add a Leading Digit to Represent the Sign

Adding a leading digit to represent the sign means that in the resulting array, the first element can be used to represent the sign (i.e. 0 for positive integers and 1 for negative integers):

// 12345 becomes [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
// -12345 becomes [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

To convert an integer (positive or negative) in this way, to an array of digits, you can follow these steps:

  1. Convert the integer to a string;
  2. Check if the first element of array is the negative sign and cast the resulting boolean value to number, which would result in 1 if the negative sign is present and 0 otherwise;
  3. Add the leading digit for the sign (i.e. 0 or 1) as the first element of the new array;
  4. Loop over each character in the string, converting each one to an integer, and adding it to the new array one by one.
function numToArray(int $num): array {
    // 1: convert number to string
    $numericStr = (string) $num;
    // 2: determine leading digit (i.e. 0 for positive, and 1 for negative)
    $leadingDigit = (int) ($numericStr[0] === '-');
    // 3: add leading digit (for sign) to new array
    $numbersArr = [$leadingDigit];
    $totalDigits = strlen($numericStr);

    // 4: iterate over string chars, convert to an integer and add to array
    for ($i = $leadingDigit; $i < $totalDigits; $i++) {
        $numbersArr[] = (int) $numericStr[$i];
    }

    return $numbersArr;
}

var_dump(numToArray(12345)); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray(-12345)); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

var_dump(numToArray('12345')); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray('-12345')); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

It is safe to directly access $numericStr[0] in this case because the int typehint added to the function argument ensures $num is always an integer, which means that the integer is guaranteed to have at least one digit. When an argument of some other type is passed in, a TypeError will be thrown.

As an alternative, you can achieve the same result in the following way as well:

  1. Convert string to an array of numeric string characters using str_split();
  2. Check, remove and remember, if the first element of array is the negative sign;
  3. Convert each array item to an integer by passing intval and the numeric array as an argument to array_map();
  4. Use array_unshift() to add the leading digit for the sign to the front of the array.
function numToArray(int $num): array {
    // 1: convert number (or numeric string) to array of numeric string digits
    $numericArr = str_split($num);
    // 2: is first element minus sign?
    $hasSign = ($numericArr[0] === '-');

    if ($hasSign) {
        // remove minus sign from array
        array_shift($numericArr);
    }

    // 3: convert each array item to an integer
    $intArr = array_map('intval', $numericArr);
    // 4: add 0 or 1 as first element in array
    array_unshift($intArr, (int) $hasSign);

    return $intArr;
}

var_dump(numToArray(12345)); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray(-12345)); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

var_dump(numToArray('12345')); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray('-12345')); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

It is safe to directly access $numericArr[0] array index in this case because the int typehint added to the function argument ensures $num is always an integer, which means str_split() is guaranteed to return an array with at least one element. When an argument of some other type is passed in, a TypeError will be thrown.

Another way of achieving the same result would be to follow these steps:

  1. Check, and remember, if the numeric string starts with the negative sign;
  2. Convert number (or numeric string) to an array of numeric string digits using preg_match_all() with a regular expression;
  3. Use array_map() to convert each array item to an integer, (by passing intval and array of matches as an argument to it).
function numToArray(int $num): array {
    // 1: number (or numeric string) starts with minus sign?
    $hasSign = str_starts_with($num, '-');
    $matches = [];
    // 2: use regex to match only numbers
    preg_match_all('/\d/', $num, $matches);

    // 3: add leading digit for sign to (converted) array of digits
    return [(int) $hasSign, ...array_map('intval', $matches[0])];
}

var_dump(numToArray(12345)); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray(-12345)); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

var_dump(numToArray('12345')); // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
var_dump(numToArray('-12345')); // [1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

It is safe to directly access $matches[0] in this case because the int typehint added to the function argument ensures $num is always an integer, which means that the regular expression is guaranteed to have at least one match and preg_match_all() will always return an array of arrays. When an argument of some other type is passed in, a TypeError will be thrown.


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