Re: [R] Call by reference or suggest workaround

From: Chidambaram Annamalai <>
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2010 20:26:51 +0530

Doh! I never thought about nesting functions.

Thanks a bunch!

On 6/19/10, Duncan Murdoch <> wrote:
> On 19/06/2010 10:32 AM, Chidambaram Annamalai wrote:
>> I have written code to compute multi-indices in R [1] and due to the
>> recursive nature of the computation I need to pass around the *same*
>> matrix object (where each row corresponds to one multi-index). As pass
>> by reference wasn't the default behavior I declared a global matrix
>> (mat) and used the <<- operator to write to the global matrix. So the
>> usage would be to call genMultiIndices(3,2) for side effects to
>> generate all multi-indices of length 3 and sum 2. And then access the
>> global matrix.
>> However, after coding this I can't seem to export the global matrix
>> object (in the NAMESPACE file) and still retain mutability since its
>> binding is "locked" (R throws an error). Can I somehow unlock this?
>> Ideally I would want to pass around the same matrix to the recursive
>> function. Is that possible? If not, could someone please suggest a
>> workaround to use the code in an R package?
> If you pass the object to multiple functions it will only create a new
> copy when necessary due to modifying it, so the cost of passing it down
> to every recursive call is not so large as you seem to think. But it's
> not zero cost, passing arguments to functions costs a little bit.
> You can avoid this using nested functions and <<- as you had before.
> That is, instead of making your recursive function a top level function
> so that <<- assigns into the namespace environment (which is what's
> causing the error), make it a nested function within another, and do
> your assignments to the outer frame. For example,
> outer <- function(args) {
> mat <- matrix(NA, 3,3)
> recursive <- function() {
> mat <<- newvalue # does the assignment into outer's frame
> if (!stop) recursive()
> }
> }
> Duncan Murdoch
> mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Sat 19 Jun 2010 - 14:58:54 GMT

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