Re: [Rd] Arrays Partial unserialization

From: Prof Brian Ripley <>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2012 15:51:51 +0100

On 31/08/2012 15:41, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
> On 31/08/2012 9:47 AM, Damien Georges wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I'm working with some huge array in R and I need to load several ones to
>> apply some functions that requires to have all my arrays values for each
>> cell...
>> To make it possible, I would like to load only a part (for example 100
>> cells) of all my arrays, apply my function, delete all cells loaded,
>> loaded following cells and so on.
>> Is it possible to unserialize (or load) only a defined part of an R
>> array ?
>> Do you know some tools that might help me?
> I don't know of any tools to do that, but there are tools to maintain
> large objects in files, and load only parts of them at a time, e.g. the
> ff package. Or you could simply use readBin and writeBin to do the same
> yourself.

Serialization is essentially serial, so you can only read the serialized format from the beginning. So too are the compression algorithms used by default.

>> Finally, I did lot of research to find the way array (and all other R
>> object) are serialized into binary object, but I found nothing
>> explaining really algorithms involved. If someone has some information
>> on this topic, I'm interesting in.
> You can read the source for this; it is in src/main/serialize.c.

And there is an extensive commentary in the 'R Internals' manual.

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
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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