How to get the difference between two arrays in JavaScript?

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Is there a way to return the difference between two arrays in JavaScript?

For example:

var a1 = ['a', 'b'];
var a2 = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd'];

// need ["c", "d"]

First answer

I assume you are comparing a normal array. If not, you need to change the for loop to a for .. in loop.

function arr_diff (a1, a2) {

    var a = [], diff = [];

    for (var i = 0; i < a1.length; i++) {
        a[a1[i]] = true;
    }

    for (var i = 0; i < a2.length; i++) {
        if (a[a2[i]]) {
            delete a[a2[i]];
        } else {
            a[a2[i]] = true;
        }
    }

    for (var k in a) {
        diff.push(k);
    }

    return diff;
}

console.log(arr_diff(['a', 'b'], ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']));
console.log(arr_diff("abcd", "abcde"));
console.log(arr_diff("zxc", "zxc"));

A better solution, if you don’t care about backward compatibility, is using filter. But still, this solution works.

Second answer

Array.prototype.diff = function(a) {
    return this.filter(function(i) {return a.indexOf(i) < 0;});
};

////////////////////  
// Examples  
////////////////////

[1,2,3,4,5,6].diff( [3,4,5] );  
// => [1, 2, 6]

["test1", "test2","test3","test4","test5","test6"].diff(["test1","test2","test3","test4"]);  
// => ["test5", "test6"]

Array.prototype.diff = function(a) {
    return this.filter(function(i) {return a.indexOf(i) < 0;});
};

////////////////////  
// Examples  
////////////////////

var dif1 = [1,2,3,4,5,6].diff( [3,4,5] );  
console.log(dif1); // => [1, 2, 6]


var dif2 = ["test1", "test2","test3","test4","test5","test6"].diff(["test1","test2","test3","test4"]);  
console.log(dif2); // => ["test5", "test6"]

Note indexOf and filter are not available in ie before ie9.

Third answer

There is a better way using ES7:

Intersection

 let intersection = arr1.filter(x => arr2.includes(x));

Intersection difference Venn Diagram

For [1,2,3] [2,3] it will yield [2,3]. On the other hand, for [1,2,3] [2,3,5] will return the same thing.

Difference

let difference = arr1.filter(x => !arr2.includes(x));

Right difference Venn Diagram

For [1,2,3] [2,3] it will yield [1]. On the other hand, for [1,2,3] [2,3,5] will return the same thing.

For a symmetric difference, you can do:

let difference = arr1
                 .filter(x => !arr2.includes(x))
                 .concat(arr2.filter(x => !arr1.includes(x)));

Symmetric difference Venn Diagram

This way, you will get an array containing all the elements of arr1 that are not in arr2 and vice-versa

As @Joshaven Potter pointed out on his answer, you can add this to Array.prototype so it can be used like this:

Array.prototype.diff = arr1.filter(x => arr2.includes(x));
[1, 2, 3].diff([2, 3])
Reprint:https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1187518/how-to-get-the-difference-between-two-arrays-in-javascript
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