What is the most useful R trick?

r

Question

In order to share some more tips and tricks for R, what is your single-most useful feature or trick? Clever vectorization? Data input/output? Visualization and graphics? Statistical analysis? Special functions? The interactive environment itself?

One item per post, and we will see if we get a winner by means of votes.

[Edit 25-Aug 2008]: So after one week, it seems that the simple str() won the poll. As I like to recommend that one myself, it is an easy answer to accept.

1
88
9/25/2017 8:52:51 PM

Accepted Answer

str() tells you the structure of any object.

64
8/19/2009 2:05:02 AM

One very useful function I often use is dput(), which allows you to dump an object in the form of R code.

# Use the iris data set
R> data(iris)
# dput of a numeric vector
R> dput(iris$Petal.Length)
c(1.4, 1.4, 1.3, 1.5, 1.4, 1.7, 1.4, 1.5, 1.4, 1.5, 1.5, 1.6, 
1.4, 1.1, 1.2, 1.5, 1.3, 1.4, 1.7, 1.5, 1.7, 1.5, 1, 1.7, 1.9, 
1.6, 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.6, 1.6, 1.5, 1.5, 1.4, 1.5, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 
1.3, 1.5, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.6, 1.9, 1.4, 1.6, 1.4, 1.5, 1.4, 4.7, 
4.5, 4.9, 4, 4.6, 4.5, 4.7, 3.3, 4.6, 3.9, 3.5, 4.2, 4, 4.7, 
3.6, 4.4, 4.5, 4.1, 4.5, 3.9, 4.8, 4, 4.9, 4.7, 4.3, 4.4, 4.8, 
5, 4.5, 3.5, 3.8, 3.7, 3.9, 5.1, 4.5, 4.5, 4.7, 4.4, 4.1, 4, 
4.4, 4.6, 4, 3.3, 4.2, 4.2, 4.2, 4.3, 3, 4.1, 6, 5.1, 5.9, 5.6, 
5.8, 6.6, 4.5, 6.3, 5.8, 6.1, 5.1, 5.3, 5.5, 5, 5.1, 5.3, 5.5, 
6.7, 6.9, 5, 5.7, 4.9, 6.7, 4.9, 5.7, 6, 4.8, 4.9, 5.6, 5.8, 
6.1, 6.4, 5.6, 5.1, 5.6, 6.1, 5.6, 5.5, 4.8, 5.4, 5.6, 5.1, 5.1, 
5.9, 5.7, 5.2, 5, 5.2, 5.4, 5.1)
# dput of a factor levels
R> dput(levels(iris$Species))
c("setosa", "versicolor", "virginica")

It can be very useful to post easily reproducible data chunks when you ask for help, or to edit or reorder the levels of a factor.


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