How to Compare the Same Contents but Different Ordered Arrays in JavaScriptby@thangaganapathy

# How to Compare the Same Contents but Different Ordered Arrays in JavaScript

April 23rd, 2024

One common challenge developers face is comparing arrays—specifically, determining if two arrays contain the same contents, regardless of the order of those contents. This task might seem straightforward at first glance, but it quickly delves into complexities. In this blog post, we’ll discuss various methods, from the simple and direct to the more sophisticated and efficient, ensuring that by the end of this article.

Welcome,

One common challenge developers face is comparing arrays—specifically, determining if two arrays contain the same contents, regardless of the order of those contents. This task might seem straightforward at first glance, but it quickly delves into complexities.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss various methods, from the simple and direct to the more sophisticated and efficient.

## Basics

This is for Beginners, in JavaScript, comparing two arrays with equality operators simply does not work.

``````[] == [] // false
[] === [] // false
``````

## Comparing Two Arrays

Let us begin with regular array comparisons.

``````function arraysEqual(a, b) {
if (a === b) return true;
if (a == null || b == null) return false;
if (a.length !== b.length) return false;

for (let i = 0; i < a.length; i++) {
if (a[i] !== b[i]) return false;
}

return true;
}

// Example usage:
const array1 = [1, 2, 3];
const array2 = [1, 2, 3];
const array3 = [1, 2, 4];

arraysEqual(array1, array2); // true
arraysEqual(array1, array3); // false
``````

## Level 1

Our `arraysEqual` function works for regular array comparisons but not for different orders.

``````const array1 = [1, 2, 3];
const array2 = [2, 3, 1];

arraysEqual(array1, array2); // false
``````

Let's change it to work for different ordered arrays.

We can do this by simply `sort` the given arrays before comparison.

``````function arraysEqual(a, b) {
a.sort();
b.sort();

if (a === b) return true;
if (a == null || b == null) return false;
if (a.length !== b.length) return false;

for (let i = 0; i < a.length; i++) {
if (a[i] !== b[i]) return false;
}

return true;
}
``````

Now, our function works well with different-ordered arrays.

``````const array1 = [1, 2, 3];
const array2 = [2, 3, 1];

arraysEqual(array1, array2); // true
``````

## Level 2

Now, we test the `arraysEqual` function by giving mixed types of values.

``````arraysEqual(['1', 1], [1, '1']); // false
``````

As you can see, our function failed even with the two arrays containing the same values.

Let's fix this.

``````function compareMixedTypes(a, b) {
if (typeof a === typeof b) {
return a === b ? 0 : a < b ? -1 : 1;
}
return typeof a < typeof b ? -1 : 1;
}

function arraysEqual(a, b) {
a.sort(compareMixedTypes);
b.sort(compareMixedTypes);

if (a === b) return true;
if (a == null || b == null) return false;
if (a.length !== b.length) return false;

for (let i = 0; i < a.length; i++) {
if (a[i] !== b[i]) return false;
}

return true;
}

arraysEqual(['1', 1], [1, '1']); // true
``````

## Level 3

Let's test the `arraysEqual` function with an array of objects.

``````const a = [{a: 1}, {b: 2}];
const b = [{b: 2}, {a: 1}];

arraysEqual(a, b); // false
``````

As you can see, our function failed because the sorting does work for primitives but simply not for objects.

Let's remove sorting and try a different method.

``````function inArray(array, el) {
for (var i = array.length; i--; ) {
if ( array[i] === el ) return true;
}
return false;
}

function arraysEqual(a, b) {
if (a === b) return true;
if (a == null || b == null) return false;
if (a.length !== b.length) return false;

for (var i = a.length; i--; ) {
if (!inArray(b, a[i])) {
return false;
}
}
return true;
}
``````

Let's test again.

``````const array1 = [1, 2, 3];
const array2 = [2, 3, 1];

arraysEqual(array1, array2); // true
arraysEqual(['1', 1], [1, '1']); // true
arraysEqual([1, 1, 2, 2], [1, 2, 1, 2]); // true

const a = [{a: 1}, {b: 2}];
const b = [{b: 2}, {a: 1}];

arraysEqual(a, b); // false
``````

As you can see the modified function works for primitives but not for objects, let's fix it in the next level.

## Level 4

The problem with the `inArray` function is that we are comparing two values using `===` operator; we need to find a way to compare objects also with deep nested.

We can use the popular lodash library's isEqual function here. Let's change it.

``````function inArray(array, el) {
for (var i = array.length; i--; ) {
if (_.isEqual(array[i], el)) return true;
}
return false;
}
``````

Now, let's try it.

``````let a = [{a: 1}, {b: 2}];
let b = [{b: 2}, {a: 1}];

arraysEqual(a, b); // true

a = [{a: {b: {c: ['a', 'b', 'c']}}}, [1, 2, 3]];
b = [[1, 2, 3], {a: {b: {c: ['a', 'b', 'c']}}}];
arraysEqual(a, b); // true
``````

## Level 5

Now what? If our code is working fine for all cases, then why do we need another level here?

There are some problems in the _.isEqual function.

https://github.com/lodash/lodash/issues/5401

https://github.com/lodash/lodash/issues/3640

https://github.com/lodash/lodash/issues/3428

Let's verify it now.

``````const a = [{m: new Map([['x', 'y']])}]
const b = [{m: new Map([['y', 'x']])}]

arraysEqual(a, b); // true

console.log(a, b);
/*
[ { m: Map(1) { 'x' => 'y' } } ]
[ { m: Map(1) { 'y' => 'x' } } ]
*/
``````

So, what is next?

Let me introduce our organization's Standard Library function isEqlArr here.

``````import { isEqlArr, shuffle } from '@opentf/std';

let a = [1, 2, 3];
let b = [2, 3, 1];
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = ['1', 1];
b = [1, '1'];
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = [1, 1, 2, 2];
b = [1, 2, 1, 2];
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = 'Apple'.split('')
b = shuffle('Apple')
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = [{a: 1}, {b: 2}];
b = [{b: 2}, {a: 1}];
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = [{a: {b: {c: ['a', 'b', 'c']}}}, [1, 2, 3]];
b = [[1, 2, 3], {a: {b: {c: ['a', 'b', 'c']}}}];
isEqlArr(a, b); // true

a = [{m: new Map([['x', 'y']])}]
b = [{m: new Map([['y', 'x']])}]
isEqlArr(a, b); // false
``````

## Example: Real-World Use Case

In this example, we are going to find out how many sets of the same products were in the invoices of a company.

Note: If it doesn't make sense, just ignore this example.

``````import { isEqlArr } from '@opentf/std';

const invoices = [
{
id: 'c2607dc9-bd74-446d-ac83-de201d158b87',
products: [
{
id: '4e5fe7a0-0fd2-44f3-bdcd-6a3b2eea4b50',
name: 'Product A'
},
{
id: '863cb499-1943-473b-85f2-285ed9128c74',
name: 'Product B'
}
]
},
{
id: '6e523056-1601-41ba-b89e-6ae41164a843',
products: [
{
id: '4e5fe7a0-0fd2-44f3-bdcd-6a3b2eea4b50',
name: 'Product A'
},
{
id: '401cc691-92f1-4e9e-bd78-995cb9663c5e',
name: 'Product C'
},

]
},
{
id: '3d375953-4c60-433c-b8c2-c45628d8f2d6',
products: [
{
id: '863cb499-1943-473b-85f2-285ed9128c74',
name: 'Product B'
},
{
id: '4e5fe7a0-0fd2-44f3-bdcd-6a3b2eea4b50',
name: 'Product A'
}
]
}
]

let count = 0

for (let i = 0; i < invoices.length; i += 1) {
for (let j = 0; j < invoices.length; j += 1) {
if (i !== j) {
if (isEqlArr(invoices[i].products, invoices[j].products)) {
count++
}
}
}
}

console.log(count); // 2
``````

Note: You can try out these examples on our online Node.js REPL

## Conclusion

Here, we have seen various levels in comparing arrays of elements unordered.

The new Standard library function is used to achieve the same for the following reasons:

• Cross-Environment Compatibility: Execute seamlessly in browsers, Node.js, Bun, Deno, etc.

• TypeScript Support

• Works with both CJS & ESM

• Supports some Older Browsers & Node.js >= 16

If you need to find out the performance of the lib, please check out these benchmarks.

Please don't forget to check out our `important` Articles:

Happy coding! 🚀

### References:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/29672847/how-to-compare-contents-of-javascript-array-but-not-the-order-of-them

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3243275/javascript-arrays-checking-two-arrays-of-objects-for-same-contents-ignoring-o

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/47072055/how-to-make-a-deep-comparison-of-unordered-arrays?noredirect=1&lq=1

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7837456/how-to-compare-arrays-in-javascript

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