Posted on Categories Coding, TutorialsTags , , , , Leave a comment on R Tip: Be Wary of “…”

R Tip: Be Wary of “…”

R Tip: be wary of “...“.

The following code example contains an easy error in using the R function unique().

vec1 <- c("a", "b", "c")
vec2 <- c("c", "d")
unique(vec1, vec2)
# [1] "a" "b" "c"

Notice none of the novel values from vec2 are present in the result. Our mistake was: we (improperly) tried to use unique() with multiple value arguments, as one would use union(). Also notice no error or warning was signaled. We used unique() incorrectly and nothing pointed this out to us. What compounded our error was R‘s “...” function signature feature.

In this note I will talk a bit about how to defend against this kind of mistake. I am going to apply the principle that a design that makes committing mistakes more difficult (or even impossible) is a good thing, and not a sign of carelessness, laziness, or weakness. I am well aware that every time I admit to making a mistake (I have indeed made the above mistake) those who claim to never make mistakes have a laugh at my expense. Honestly I feel the reason I see more mistakes is I check a lot more.

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Posted on Categories Administrativia, Coding, ProgrammingTags , 1 Comment on wrapr 1.5.0 available on CRAN

wrapr 1.5.0 available on CRAN

The R package wrapr 1.5.0 is now available on CRAN.

wrapr includes a lot of tools for writing better R code:

I’ll be writing articles on a number of the new capabilities. For now I just leave you with the nifty operator coalesce notation.

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Posted on Categories Coding, Opinion, TutorialsTags , , , 4 Comments on magrittr and wrapr Pipes in R, an Examination

magrittr and wrapr Pipes in R, an Examination

Let’s consider piping in R both using the magrittr package and using the wrapr package.

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Posted on Categories Coding, Opinion, Pragmatic Data Science, Statistics, TutorialsTags , , , , , , ,

R Tip: Think in Terms of Values

R tip: first organize your tasks in terms of data, values, and desired transformation of values, not initially in terms of concrete functions or code.

I know I write a lot about coding in R. But it is in the service of supporting statistics, analysis, predictive analytics, and data science.

R without data is like going to the theater to watch the curtain go up and down.

(Adapted from Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories, Little, Brown, and Company, 1996, page 72, “Excursionist Drama 2”.)

Usually you come to R to work with data. If you think and plan in terms of data and values (including introducing more data to control processing) you will usually work in much faster, explainable, and maintainable fashion.

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Posted on Categories Coding, TutorialsTags , , , 4 Comments on R Tip: Use Named Vectors to Re-Map Values

R Tip: Use Named Vectors to Re-Map Values

Here is an R tip. Want to re-map a column of values? Use a named vector as the mapping.

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Posted on Categories Coding, Opinion, Statistics, TutorialsTags , , , , , , , 1 Comment on R Tip: Use let() to Re-Map Names

R Tip: Use let() to Re-Map Names

Another R tip. Need to replace a name in some R code or make R code re-usable? Use wrapr::let().



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Posted on Categories Coding, Opinion, Statistics, TutorialsTags , , , , , , , 13 Comments on R Tip: Break up Function Nesting for Legibility

R Tip: Break up Function Nesting for Legibility

There are a number of easy ways to avoid illegible code nesting problems in R.

In this R tip we will expand upon the above statement with a simple example.

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Posted on Categories Coding, TutorialsTags , , , 4 Comments on R Tip: Use stringsAsFactors = FALSE

R Tip: Use stringsAsFactors = FALSE

R tip: use stringsAsFactors = FALSE.

R often uses a concept of factors to re-encode strings. This can be too early and too aggressive. Sometimes a string is just a string.


800px Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt cropped

It is often claimed Sigmund Freud said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

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