Re: [Rd] [R] function changes argument (PR#9216)

From: Peter Dalgaard <>
Date: Mon 11 Sep 2006 - 12:35:05 GMT writes:

> I can tell you where the problem is and a workaround:
> f <- function(LL) for (ll in names(LL)) LL[[ll]]$txt<-"changed in f"
> works. The problem is that for() is directly exposing the elements of a
> list.
> Of course, a more idiomatic construction would be
> LL <- lapply(LL, function(x) x$txt <- "changed in f")
> which also works.
> The question is whether we do wish to change this to make the construction
> work as Andreas appears to intend. The simplest solution is a
> precautionary duplicate in for(), which is potentially very expensive and
> almost always unneeded.
> However, we already have
> x <- 1:10
> for(i in x) i <- pi
> x
> which does not change x, so I think the right solution is to make the list
> (LL here) read-only, which can be done cheaply. That is also AFAICS what
> S does.

We could have a precautionary (virtual) assignment, effectively

for (`*tmp*` in L) { ll <- `*tmp*` ; .......}

I think this is what is supposed to happen in the R semantics, it also satisfies the convention that ll is defined at the end of the loop as the last value obtained. Assigning to the loop variable should not change the structure from which it comes, even if Andreas intended otherwise.

It's not the same as duplicating: it may change NAMED on the elements of L and cause extra duplication down the line, but not invariably so.

I suspect that the only reason it isn't what currently happens is that we have forgotten to diddle the NAMED flag in the implementation of for(), in the same way as is done for "<-".

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             ุster Farimagsgade 5, Entr.B
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     PO Box 2099, 1014 Cph. K
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark          Ph:  (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (                  FAX: (+45) 35327907

______________________________________________ mailing list
Received on Tue Sep 12 07:58:30 2006

Archive maintained by Robert King, hosted by the discipline of statistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Archive generated by hypermail 2.1.8, at Tue 12 Sep 2006 - 05:30:06 GMT.

Mailing list information is available at Please read the posting guide before posting to the list.