R FAQs: Getting Help in R

Question: How one can get help about different command in R Language?
Answer: There are many ways to get help about different command (functions). R has built-in help facility which is similar to man facility in Unix. For beginners of R language, help() function or ? can be used to get help about different commands of R language.

Questions: Provide some examples about getting help?
Answer: To get more information on any specific R command (function), for example for getting help about solve(), lm(), plot() etc, write the following commands at R prompt:

> help(solve)
> help(lm)
> help(plot)

Question: Can one get help for special symbols, characters in R Language?
Answer: Yes one can get help for special characters. For example;

> help(“[[“)
> help(“[“)
> help(“^”)
> help(“$”)
> help(“%%”)

Question: What help.start() does?
Answer: The help.start() will launch a web browser that allows the help pages to browsed with hyperlinks. It can be a better way to get help about different functions.

Question: There is help.search() command. What for purpose it is?
Answer: The help.search() command allows searching for help in various ways. To get what help.search() functions does, write this command at R prompt;

> help(help.search)

Question: Provide some details about help.search() function and also illustrate it by providing some examples?
Answer: The help.search() allows for searching the help system for documentation matching a given character string in the (file) name, alias, title, concept or keyword entries (or any combination thereof), using either fuzzy matching or regular expression matching. Names and titles of the matched help entries are displayed nicely formatted. The examples are:

> help.search(“linear”)
> help.search(“linear models”)
> help.search(“print”)
> help.search(“cat”)

Question: How ? can be used to get help in R language?
Answer: The ? mark can be used to get help in Windows version of R Language. For example;

> ?print
> ?help
> ?”[[“
> ?methods
> ?lm

For further detials, follow the link Getting Help in R Language

R FAQs: Saving and Loading R workspace

Question: Can I save my work in R Language?
Answer: R language facilitates to save ones R work.

Question: How to save work done in R?
Answer: All of the objects and functions that are created (you R workspace) can be saved in a file .RData by using the save() function or the save.image() function. It is important that when saving R work in a file, remember to include the .RData extension.

> save(file=”d:/filename.RData”)
> save.image(“d:/filename.RData”)

Question: Is there alternative to save workspace in R?
Answer: Yes! You can also save work space using file menu. For this, click File menu and then click save workspace. You will see the dialog box, browse to the folder where you want to save the file and provide the file name of your own choice.

Question: How one can access the saved work, while work is saved using save.image() function?
Answer: The load() function can be used to load a .RData file.

> load (“d:/filename.RData”)

Question: Is there any other alternative to load workspace in R?
Answer: The .RData files can be accessed through the file menu. To access file click File and then load workspace. A dialog box will appear, browse to the folder where you saved the .RData file and click open.

Question: How do one can save all the commands that are used in an R session?
Answer: Saving R commands used in an R session means you want to save history of your R session in an .Rhistory file by using the history() function. It is important to include the .Rhistory extension when saving the file at different path.

> history(“d:/filename.Rhistory”)

Question: Can commands in R session be saved through File menu?
Answer: Yes command in R session be saved through file menu. For this click File and then save history. A dialog box will appear, browse to the folder where you want to save the file (that will contain R commands in a session) and provide the file name of your own choice.

R FAQs: Handling Missing values in R

Question: What are the differences of missing values in R and other Statistical Packages?

Answer: Missing values (NA) cannot be used in comparisons, as already discussed in previous post on missing values in R. In other statistical packages (softwares) a “missing value” is assigned some code either very high or very low in magnitude such as 99 or -99 etc. These coded values are considered as missing and can be used to compare to other values and other values can be compared to missing values. In R language NA values are used for all kinds of missing data, while in other packages, missing strings and missing numbers are represented differently, for example, empty quotations for strings, and periods, large or small numbers. Similarly non-NA values cannot be interpreted as missing while in other packages system missing values are designate from other values.

Question: What are NA options in R?

Answer: In previous post on missing values, I introduced is.na() function as a tool for both finding and creating missing values. The is.na() is one of several functions build around NA. Most of the other functions for missing values (NA) are options for na.action(). The possible na.action() settings within R are:

  • na.omit() and na.exclude(): These functions return the object with observations removed if they contain any missing (NA) values. The difference between these two functions na.omit() and na.exclude() can be seen in in some prediction and residual functions.
  • na.pass(): This function returns the object unchanged.
  • na.fail(): This function returns the object only if it contains no missing values.

To understand these NA options use the following lines of code.

getOption(“na.action”)
(m<-as.data.frame(matrix(c(1:5, NA), ncol=2)))
na.omit(m)
na.exclude(m)
na.fail(m)
na.pass(m)

Note that it is wise to both investigate the missing values in you data set and also make use of the help files for all functions you are willing to use for handling missing values. You should be either aware of and comfortable with the default treatments (handling) of missing values or specifying the treatment of missing values you want for you analysis.

R FAQS about Matrix | Data Structure for Matrix in R

Question: What is matrix in R?
Answer: In R language matrices are two dimensional arrays of elements all of which are of the same type, for example numbers, character strings or logical values.

Matrices may be constructed using the built in function “matrix”, which reshapes its first argument into a matrix having specified number of rows as second argument and number of columns as third matrix.

Question: Give an example of how matrix is constructed in R language?
Answer: A 3 by 3 matrix (3 rows and 3 columns) matrix may be constructed such as:

matrix(1:9, 3, 3)
matrix(c(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9), 3, 3)matrix(runif(9), 3,3)

First two commands constructs a matrix of 9 elements having 3 rows and 3 columns consisting numbers from 1 up to 9. The third command makes a matrix of 3 rows and 3 columns with random numbers from uniform distribution.

Question: How the matrix elements are filled?
Answer: A matrix is filled by columns, unless the optional argument byrow is set to TRUE as argument in matrix command, for example

matrix(1:9, 3, 3, byrow=TRUE)

Question: Can matrix be stored in R?
Answer: Any matrix can be stored in R such as

m <- matrix(1:9, 3, 3)
mymatrix <- matrix( rnorm(16), nrow=4 )

Matrices are stored in “m” and “mymatrix” object. The second command construct a matrix having 16 elements with 4 rows from normal distribution having mean 0 and variance 1.

Question: what is the use of dim command in R?
Answer: The dim (dimension) is an attribute of matrix in R, which tells the number of rows and the number of columns of a matrix, for example,

dim(mymatrix)

This will results in output showing 4  4, meaning that 4 rows and 4 column matrix.

Question: Can we name rows of a matrix in R?
Answer: Yes in R language we can name rows of a matrix according to ones requirements, such as

rownames(mymatrix) <- c(“x1”, “x2”, “x3”, “x4”)
mymatrix

Question: Can column names be changes or updated in R?
Answer: The procedure is same as changing of rows name. For this purpose colnames command is used, for example

colnames(mymatrix)<-c(“A”, “B”, “C”, “D”)
mymatrix

Question: What is the purpose of attributes command for matrix in R?
Answer: The attributes function can be used to get information about dimension of matrix and dimnames (dimension names). For example;

attributes(mymatrix)

 

R FAQ missing values

Question: Can missing values be handled on R?
Answer: Yes, in R language one can handle missing values. The way of dealing with missing values is different as compared to other statistical softwares such as SPSS, SAS, STATA, EVIEWS etc.

Question: What is the representation of missing values in R Language?
Answer: In R missing values or data appears as NA. Note that NA is not a string nor a numeric value.

Question: Can R user introduce missing value(s) in matrix/ vector?
Answer: Yes user of R can create (introduce) missing values in vector/ Matrix. For example,

    x <- c(1,2,3,4,NA,6,7,8,9,10)
    y <- c(“a”, “b”, “c”, NA, “NA”)

Note that on y vector the fifth value of strong “NA” not a missing value.

Question: How one can check that there are missing value in a vector/ Matrix?
Answer: To check which values in a matrix/vector recognized as missing value by R language, use the is.na function. This function will return a vector of TRUE or FALSE. TRUE indicate that the value at that index is missing while FALSE indicate that the value is not a missing value. For example

> is.na(x)    # fifth element will appear as TRUE while all other will be FALSE
> is.na(y)    # fourth element will be true while all others as FALSE

Note that “NA” in second vector is not a missing value, therefore is.na will return FALSE for this value.

Question: In R language, can missing values be used comparisons?
Answer: No missing values in R cannot be used in comparisons. NA (missing values) is used for all kinds of missing data. Vector x is numeric and vector y is a character object. So Non-NA values cannot be interpreted as missing values. Write the command, to understand it

x < 0
y == NA
is.na(x) <- which(x–7); x1

Question: Provide an example for introducing NA in matrix?
Answer: Following command will create a matrix with all of the elements as NA.

matrix(NA, nrow=3, ncol=3)
matrix(c(NA,1,2,3,4,5,6,NA, NA), nrow=3, ncol=3)

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