Understanding vectors in R programming is at the core of learning the language. In this post, I’ll touch on some of the basics of vector implementation in R and examples of useful functions such as `c()`

, `seq()`

, `rep()`

.

The official documentation for vectors in R can be found here https://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/r-release/R-intro.html#Simple-manipulations-numbers-and-vectors

#### All Variables in R are Vectors

Basically, all variables in R are vectors. This is validated by using the `is.vector()`

function:

*OneLenVec <- 99OneLenVecis.vector(OneLenVec)*

This demonstrates that even a simple integer is represented as a vector:

#### The Combine Function

A simple way to create a vector with multiple members is by using the combine function.

*> NumericVector <- c(78, 99, 1, -55, 22)> print(NumericVector)[1] 78 99 1 -55 22> is.numeric(NumericVector)[1] TRUE> is.double(NumericVector)[1] TRUE*

Also seen above are some other new “is.XYZ” functions where the data type can be checked.

#### Vector Data Types are Homogeneous

A good example of how R handles mixed data types is vectors is seen below:

R converted all vector elements to character strings because one of the elements was a character string.

#### Creating Vectors with Seq and Rep

When I first saw the “X:Y” syntax in for loops, I immediately thought of Python. Previous notes on for loops are captured in this blog post. However, the “X:Y” syntax does not support a third value to specify step as is seen in Python. However, the `seq()`

function also can be used to create vectors, and it does support the step option.

The basic use of the sequence function is as follows:

*basic_sequence <- seq(1, 10)print(basic_sequence)[1] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10seq_with_step <- seq(1, 10, 3)print(seq_with_step)[1] 1 4 7 10*

The `rep()`

function is used to replicate vectors. First, remember that all variables are vectors, so the `rep()`

function can be used as shown below:

*single_char <- “a”ten_chars <- rep(single_char, 10)print(ten_chars)[1] “a” “a” “a” “a” “a” “a” “a” “a” “a” “a”*

The function behaves, such that, it replicates the entire vector:

*message <- c(“Replicate”, “me”)print(rep(message, 3))[1] “Replicate” “me” “Replicate” “me” “Replicate” “me”*

#### Accessing Vector Elements

Vectors are indexed starting at 1 instead of 0. Using the previous vector, MixedOrNot, I can get the second element as follows:

*MixedOrNot[2][1] “3943”*

Another observation is the use of negative indexing. In Python, for example, imagine the following code:

*python_array = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]print(python_array[-3])*

That will print the “negative 3rd indexed” item, which is `4`

.

In R, this actually removes the third item from the vector:

As expected, the “X:Y” syntax is supported (e.g. using r_vector) from the last screen shot:

*print(r_vector[1:3])[1] 1 2 3*

There are some other creative ways to selectively pull elements from the vector. For example, to pull the first, third, and fifth element of a vector:

*print(r_vector[c(1, 3, 5)])[1] 1 3 5*

The use of “X:Y”, combine `c()`

, and related combinations provide a variety of ways to access elements of the vector.

This concludes the basic overview of vectors in R programming.

Categories: R Programming

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