Re: [Rd] string-length limitations

From: Thomas Lumley <>
Date: Wed 12 Jul 2006 - 14:37:29 GMT

On Wed, 12 Jul 2006, jake wilson wrote:
> I'm attempting to "glm" a formula - something that's not caused problems in
> the past. I've used formulas of the form
> formula( "dependant-variable~independant-variables" )
> where the independant variable string is of the form:
> "indvar1+indvar2+...+indvarN"
> Now, however, our independant variable strings are quite long (hundreds of

> variables) - R dies with an "input buffer overflow" error. I've tried

> writing out the code to files and sourcing them, as well as building the
> strings incrementally in R, but these have not worked either. I have come
> to believe there is a maximum length for char strings - some sort of
> fundamental limitation. Is there such a max-length and, if so, is there a
> way I can work with long strings of the sort referenced above?

How long are the strings, and where does the error occur (traceback()) will tell you where)?


fn <- function(n) formula(paste("y",paste("xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx",1:n,collapse="+",sep=""),sep="~"))

I can run terms(fn(500)) with no problems. This is a 15500 character string, and produces a terms object over a megabyte in size. This suggests that it isn't a string problem, unless you really want formulas larger than this.


Thomas Lumley			Assoc. Professor, Biostatistics	University of Washington, Seattle

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