For Loops And R

Kevin Feasel

2018-03-12

R

John Mount has a couple of tips around using for loops in R.  First up, pre-allocate lists to make certain types of iterative processing faster:

Another R tip. Use vector(mode = "list") to pre-allocate lists.

result <- vector(mode = "list", 3)
print(result)
#> [[1]]
#> NULL
#>
#> [[2]]
#> NULL
#>
#> [[3]]
#> NULL

The above used to be critical for writing performant R code (R seems to have greatly improved incremental list growth over the years). It remains a convenient thing to know.

Also, use loop indices when iterating through for loops:

Below is an R annoyance that occurs again and again: vectors lose class attributes when you iterate over them in a for()-loop.

d <- c(Sys.time(), Sys.time())
print(d)
#> [1] "2018-02-18 10:16:16 PST" "2018-02-18 10:16:16 PST"
for(di in d) { print(di)
}
#> [1] 1518977777
#> [1] 1518977777

Notice we printed numbers, not dates/times.

Very useful information.

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