FREE: Watch my new YouTube videos, Xcode in 20 Seconds! >>

How to find the difference between two arrays

Paul Hudson       @twostraws

If you have two arrays that contain similar items and want to find out their differences – i.e., which items exist in one or the other, but not both – the easiest thing to do is use a Set. Sets have a symmetricDifference() method that does exactly this, so you just need to convert both arrays to a set, then convert the result back into an array.

Here’s an extension to make it easier:

extension Array where Element: Hashable {
    func difference(from other: [Element]) -> [Element] {
        let thisSet = Set(self)
        let otherSet = Set(other)
        return Array(thisSet.symmetricDifference(otherSet))
    }
}

And here’s some example code you can use to try it out:

let names1 = ["John", "Paul", "Ringo"]
let names2 = ["Ringo", "Paul", "George"]
let difference = names1.difference(from: names2)

That will set difference to be ["George", "John"], because those are the two names that only appear once in either array.

Sponsored You’re already busy updating your app for Swift 4.2 and iOS 12, so why not let Instabug help you find and fix bugs? Add just two lines of code to your project and receive comprehensive reports with all the feedback you need to ship a world-class app – click here to learn more!

Available from iOS 8.0

Did this solution work for you? Please pass it on!

Other people are reading…

About the Swift Knowledge Base

This is part of the Swift Knowledge Base, a free, searchable collection of solutions for common iOS questions.

Become a Swift expert

I wrote a book called Pro Swift that's dedicated to helping you master the Swift language, and it includes seven hours of video demonstrating each technique!

MASTER SWIFT NOW
Buy Testing Swift Buy Practical iOS 12 Buy Pro Swift Buy Swift Design Patterns Buy Swift Coding Challenges Buy Server-Side Swift (Vapor Edition) Buy Server-Side Swift (Kitura Edition) Buy Hacking with macOS Buy Advanced iOS Volume One Buy Advanced iOS Volume Two Buy Hacking with watchOS Buy Hacking with tvOS Buy Hacking with Swift Buy Dive Into SpriteKit Buy Swift in Sixty Seconds Buy Objective-C for Swift Developers Buy Beyond Code

Was this page useful? Let me know!

Average rating: 5.0/5

Click here to visit the Hacking with Swift store >>