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Bug #40959 Returning unset array key by reference sets it to null
Submitted: 2007-03-30 14:41 UTC Modified: 2007-03-30 14:50 UTC
From: mamay55 at gmail dot com Assigned:
Status: Not a bug Package: Arrays related
PHP Version: 5.2.1 OS: Linux/Windows
Private report: No CVE-ID: None
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From: mamay55 at gmail dot com
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 [2007-03-30 14:41 UTC] mamay55 at gmail dot com
Whenever a function (global or class method) returns a reference to an array element which is not set, the value of that element is set to null.

Reproduce code:
 $data = array();

 function &get_data($key) {
     global $data;
     return $data[$key];

 $result = &get_data('TEST');
 echo $result;

Expected result:
The expected result would be that the value of the unset element would not be set and the following warning would be produced:
Undefined index:  TEST in ...

Actual result:
    [TEST] =>


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 [2007-03-30 14:50 UTC]
Thank you for taking the time to write to us, but this is not
a bug. Please double-check the documentation available at and the instructions on how to report
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