In his latest post, Brian Moon talks about a method to help you and your code fit into an E_STRICT style of coding - the settype function.
These days, the way to develop is to have E_ALL and maybe even throw in E_STRICT if you are really hard core. That of course means having all your variables initialized before they are used.
In his view, defining them is good, but it's more "elegant" to use the settype function to make it more clear where they are defined. He also includes a function, using settype, that ensures that the entered values are what they should be (i.e. and int is an int).