Re: [Rd] modifying large R objects in place

From: Petr Savicky <>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2007 15:13:17 +0200

On Wed, Sep 26, 2007 at 10:52:28AM -0700, Byron Ellis wrote:
> For the most part, doing anything to an R object result in it's
> duplication. You generally have to do a lot of work to NOT copy an R
> object.

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, you are right. For example, the allocated memory determined by top command on Linux may change during a session as follows:
  a <- matrix(as.integer(1),nrow=14100,ncol=14100) # 774m   a[1,1] <- 0 # 3.0g
  gc() # 1.5g

In the current applicatin, I modify the matrix only using my own C code and only read it on R level. So, the above is not a big problem for me (at least not now).

However, there is a related thing, which could be a bug. The following code determines the value of NAMED field in SEXP header of an object:

  SEXP getnamed(SEXP a)

      SEXP out;
      PROTECT(out = allocVector(INTSXP, 1));
      INTEGER(out)[0] = NAMED(a);


Now, consider the following session

  u <- matrix(as.integer(1),nrow=5,ncol=3) + as.integer(0)   .Call("getnamed",u) # 1 (OK)

  .Call("getnamed",u) # 1 (OK)

  .Call("getnamed",u) # 1 (OK)

  .Call("getnamed",u) # 2 (why?)

  u <- matrix(as.integer(1),nrow=5,ncol=3) + as.integer(0)   .Call("getnamed",u) # 1 (OK)
  .Call("getnamed",u) # 2 (so, ncol does the same)

Is this a bug?

Petr Savicky. mailing list Received on Thu 27 Sep 2007 - 13:36:27 GMT

Archive maintained by Robert King, hosted by the discipline of statistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Archive generated by hypermail 2.2.0, at Thu 27 Sep 2007 - 22:41:56 GMT.

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