Re: [Rd] Missing argument error message

From: Prof Brian Ripley <ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 14:06:43 +0000 (GMT)

But in 2.10.1 patched

> z=function(x){x*2}
> z()

Error in x * 2 : 'x' is missing

[See the posting guide about checking current versions before posting ... My notes say the change was in 2.8.0 and a side effect of something else rather than deliberate.]

On Thu, 28 Jan 2010, Barry Rowlingson wrote:

> Back in the days of R 2.6, if you did this, you got this:
>
>> z=function(x){x*2}
>> z()
> Error in z() : argument "x" is missing, with no default
>
> But now in this decade we get (for R 2.9 and 2.10):
>
>> z=function(x){x*2}
>> z()
> Error in z() :
> element 1 is empty;
> the part of the args list of '*' being evaluated was:
> (x, 2)
>
> Now I can see (after thinking about it) that what is happening is that
> because of lazy evaluation or something the 'x' isn't getting spotted
> as being empty until R tries to do x*2, which obviously maps to *(x,2)
> in functional form. It's perfectly correct to say element 1 of the
> args list of '*', being (x,2), is empty.
>
> But which of those two errors above is clearer? I don't suppose much
> can be done about this since it is going to the guts of modern R, and
> I was surprised my initial searches didn't find hordes of confused
> newbies. Just me then. It got me when I was doing a histogram of some
> dates:
>
>> hist(cases)
> Error in inherits(breaks, "POSIXt") :
> element 1 is empty;
> the part of the args list of '.Internal' being evaluated was:
> (x, what, which)
>
> who what which? If the error had been "Error in hist(cases): argument
> 'breaks' is missing, with no default" you wouldn't be wasting your
> time reading this now...
>
> Barry
>
> --
> blog: http://geospaced.blogspot.com/
> web: http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~rowlings
> web: http://www.rowlingson.com/
> twitter: http://twitter.com/geospacedman
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>
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>

-- 
Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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