[R] Attributes or list programming "efficiency"

From: Bert Gunter <gunter.berton_at_gene.com>
Date: Wed, 14 May 2008 11:15:59 -0700


R-Fellow Travellers:

Asked from the perspective of a software development amateur ...

Suppose one wishes to create data structures that have both data and metadata -- e.g. a data.frame and details about where, when, and by whom the data were gathered (specifics not important here).

  1. Is there any inherent processing advantage in R in representing this as a list that contains both the data and metadata as components vs as a data.frame with the metadata as attributes?
  2. Is there a compelling software architecture argument to favor one vs the other?

I suspect the answer is no in both cases, but I thought I'd ask. This seems to be mainly relevant for S3 programming, as in S4 one might stick the info into different slots (if one wishes to dispatch on them).

Cheers to all,

Bert Gunter
Genentech

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