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November 09, 2010


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Several handy functions are listed here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1295955/what-is-the-most-useful-r-trick

it's not a function, but the '%in%' operator is great, such as:


books <- books[books$genre %in% c('Romance', 'Fantasy', 'Science Fiction'),]

... saves multiple == & == & == etc. for referencing columns

all of the file. and dir. commands:

file.create()... dir.create... etc.:

... good for file management and automating various processes.


... good for calling other applications like perl, or another R instance, or anything you can do from a command line.

those are the ones that I can think of off hand.

oh... and,


...is great too for cross-platform development. Haven't tested this yet, but... yeah, that's the idea

I think learning about functions that can be used to debug R code have been the biggest boon to my productivity.

dput(): for getting the code to generate an object
str(): compactly print the structure of any object
methods(), getS3method(), and getAnywhere(): to find the code for a generic function
debug(), undebug(), traceback(), and browser(): for function debugging

transform, within

David, I think your last line should read:


I count 28 rather than 27:


gets you the list above ...

I'll put in votes for sweep, scale, subset, match, merge, cumsum/cumprod ...

example() - I wish that was the second function I learned, right after help().

is there a way to see the previous "functions of the day"?

Matt, there's not right now, but it's a great suggestion! I'll see if we can implement that feature for a future update to inside-R.org.

ave() is not well known, but can be very useful

My own functions are my favorite. :)
here's one I especially find useful

getfirsts <- function(data, searchcol){

# Receives a data frame and a search column in that data frame.
# Returns a data frame of the first occurances of all unique values of of the
# "search" column.

rows <- as.data.frame(match(unique(data[[searchcol]]), data[[searchcol]]))
firsts = data[rows[[1]],]


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