Longest common prefix

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I have made a function for finding the longest common prefix for the challenge on the leetcode site. This is the code:

var longestCommonPrefix = function(strs) {
    let longestPrefix = '';
    if (strs.length > 0) {
      longestPrefix = strs[0];
      for (let i = 1; i < strs.length; i++) {
        for (let j = 0; j < longestPrefix.length; j++) {
          if (strs[i][j] != longestPrefix[j]) {
            longestPrefix = longestPrefix.slice(0, j);

    return longestPrefix;

I am sure there is a way to make this code better, but not sure how to do that. Would appreciate any help.


I would find the alphabetically smallest and largest string and just run your algorithm on these two. That would avoid the embedded loop.

var longestCommonPrefix = function(strs) {
    if (!strs)
        return '';

    let smallest = strs.reduce( (min, str) => min < str ? min : str, strs[0] );
    let largest  = strs.reduce( (min, str) => min > str ? min : str, strs[0] );

    for (let i=0; i<smallest.length; i++) {
        if (smallest[i] != largest[i])
            return smallest.substr(0,i);

    return '';

In answer to konijn it would be minimally faster to get the smallest/largest by doing:

let smallest = strs[0];
let largest  = strs[0];
for (let i=1; i<strs.length; i++) {
  let s= strs[i];
  if (s > largest)  largest = s;
  if (s < smallest) smallest = s;

From a short review;

  • You should sort the strings by length ascending if you start by assigning longestPrefix = strs[0]; the prefix cannot be longer than the shortest string.
  • I would assign longestPrefix[j] to a variable, avoiding an array access in a nested loop

  • I would return the found value instead of calling break

    • Break only exits one iteration in the loop anyway
    • It seems okay that if no string list is provided, that undefined is returned
  • Personal preference, I prefer list over strs

  • function(strs) creates an anonymous function, which is terrible in stack traces, just use the good old function longestCommonPrefix(strs) {
  • *

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