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Request #71090 Comparison operators should be transitive
Submitted: 2015-12-11 12:19 UTC Modified: 2017-08-05 04:45 UTC
From: reallfqq-php at yahoo dot fr Assigned:
Status: Suspended Package: Scripting Engine problem
PHP Version: 7.0.0 OS:
Private report: No CVE-ID: None
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 [2015-12-11 12:19 UTC] reallfqq-php at yahoo dot fr
PHP's comparison operators are circular, generatng situations where impossible equalities are considered valid.

This bug is posted in reference to:

Test script:

function is_sorted($array) {
  $n = count($array);
  for ($a=0; $a<$n-1; $a++) {
    for ($b=$a+1; $b<$n; $b++) {
      if ($array[$a] > $array[$b]) {
        return false;
  return true;

$array = array(INF, array(), (object)array());



Expected result:

Actual result:


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 [2015-12-11 13:37 UTC]
the problem is INF, comparing sequence matters here.
 [2015-12-11 19:39 UTC] reallfqq-php at yahoo dot fr
Short answer :
*Wrong*. Try the following code:
    $a = 15;
    $b = array();
    $c = (object)array();

    var_dump($a < $b);
    var_dump($b < $c);
    var_dump($c < $a);

Long answer:

Please do not oversee the problem and oversimplify it.
I am talking about operators, not constants. The problem is not INF at all.

Have you checked the linked webpage?

The first example show non-transitivity of some operators:
php -r 'var_dump(TRUE == "a"); var_dump("a" == 0); var_dump(TRUE == 0);'

Expected :


Then, and I think that is the biggest concern, there is circular references in the operators chain, demonstrated in the bug report.
The bug report example actual shows a near-real-world use-case where the sort function is unable to do its job. That is more spectacular.
 [2015-12-11 20:20 UTC]
Just to note, this is the actual output. 

PHP Notice:  Object of class stdClass could not be converted to int in ./sorting.php on line 11

PHP Stack trace:
Notice: Object of class stdClass could not be converted to int in ./sorting.php on line 11
PHP   1. {main}() ./sorting.php:0

Call Stack:
PHP   2. is_sorted() ./sorting.php:23
    0.0002     226856   1. {main}() ./sorting.php:0
    0.0003     228360   2. is_sorted() ./sorting.php:23


Almost as if the code is trying to tell you that you're doing something bogus...
 [2016-07-29 13:08 UTC]
-Summary: Comparison operators loop +Summary: Comparison operators should be transitive -Type: Bug +Type: Feature/Change Request
 [2016-07-29 13:08 UTC]
For reference: <> and

> The bug report example actual shows a near-real-world use-case
> where the sort function is unable to do its job. That is more
> spectacular.

So comparing apples to oranges is a near-real-world use-case?

Anyhow, we can't simply change the historic behavior, because
somebody claims it would be bug (despite the behavior is exactly
documented), so I'm changing this ticket to feature request. Most
likely an RFC would be required, to cater to the supposedly
significant BC break.
 [2016-07-29 22:16 UTC] reallfqq-php at yahoo dot fr
I take good note that, in PHP world, operator intransitiveness is not a bug, but a feature, and that correct operators graph is a 'feature request', much like a cherry on the cake.

No wonder PHP fuses keep melting...

The problem we are talking about is language design and grammar, not comparing apples and oranges.
Do not mix programmings mistake and design flaw/broken core grammar rule, since criticity of each case is several universes apart.

Every programming language should respect some basic rules. I am amazed I even needed to fill this bug report, and even more amazed I feel like I need to push on it and explain those things to people... crafting a programming language!
It seems like you do not know the essence of your field and noobs are teaching *alleged* experts.

You answer is gold: totally irrelevant. You should step away from creating programming languages, or attend 101. For the greater good.

Anyway: there are none so deaf as those who will not listen.
 [2017-08-05 04:45 UTC]
-Status: Open +Status: Suspended
 [2017-08-05 04:45 UTC]
Thank you for your interest in PHP and for submitting a feature request. Please be aware that due to the magnitude of change this request requires, it would be necessary to discuss it on PHP Internals list ( as an RFC. Please read the guide about creating RFCs here:
If you haven't had experience with writing RFCs before, it is advised to seek guidance on the Internals list ( and/or solicit help from one of the experienced developers. 

Please to not consider this comment as a negative view on the merits of your proposal - every proposal which requires changes of certain magnitude, even the very successful and widely supported ones, must be done through the RFC process. This helps make the process predictable, transparent and accessible to all developers.
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