Re: [Rd] (PR#13487) Segfault when mistakenly calling [.data.frame

From: Tony Plate <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 10:38:14 -0700

Simon Urbanek wrote:
> On Jan 30, 2009, at 10:30 , Christian Brechbühler wrote:
>> On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 4:44 PM, Prof Brian Ripley
>> <>wrote:
>>> What did your actual application do? This seems a very strange
>>> thing to
>>> do, and the segfault is in trying to construct the traceback.
>>> Only by using on the object (and not even by name) do I get
>>> this
>>> error. E.g.
>>> `[.data.frame`(1:10, 3)
>>> Error in NextMethod("[") : object not specified
>>>>"[.data.frame", list(1:10, 3))
>>> Error in NextMethod("[") : object not specified
>>> are fine.
>>> Obviously it would be nice to fix this, but I'd like to understand the
>>> actual circumstances: there is more to it than the subject line.
>> Yes, there is more. For reporting the problem, we tried to pare it
>> down to
>> a concise, self-contained test case.
>> My boss was debugging an issue in our R code. We have our own "[...."
>> functions, because stock R drops names when subscripting.
> ... if you tell it to do so, yes. If you tell it to not do that, it
> won't ... ever tried drop=FALSE ?
The common situation I have (which might be the same as the OP's) is wanting to get a vector from a data frame, and having the rownames of the dataframe become the names on the vector.

With matrix, the behavior I want is the default behavior, e.g.,  > x <- cbind(a=c(x=1,y=2,z=3),b=4:6)
 > x
  a b
x 1 4
y 2 5
z 3 6
 > x[,1]
x y z
1 2 3

But with a data frame, subscripting returns a vector with no names:  > xd <-
 > xd[,1]
[1] 1 2 3

One can use drop=FALSE, but then you've still got a data frame, not a vector:
 > (xd1 <- xd[,1,drop=FALSE])
x 1
y 2
z 3

The simplest way I know to get a named vector is to use as.matrix on the one-column dataframe:
 > as.matrix(xd1)[,1]
x y z
1 2 3
(Which works fine except in the case where xd1 has only one row...)

And BTW, am I missing something, or does the behavior of drop() not conform to the description in ?drop:

 > Value:
 >     If 'x' is an object with a 'dim' attribute (e.g., a matrix or
 >     'array'), then 'drop' returns an object like 'x', but with any
 >     extents of length one removed.  Any accompanying 'dimnames'
 >     attribute is adjusted and returned with 'x': if the result is a
 >     vector the 'names' are taken from the 'dimnames' (if any).  If the
 >     result is a length-one vector, the names are taken from the first
 >     dimension with a dimname.

How is this last sentence consistent with the following behavior?  > dimnames(x[1,1,drop=F])
[1] "x"

[1] "a"

 > drop(x[1,1,drop=F])
[1] 1
 From the description in "Value:" in ?drop, I would have expected above result to have the name "x" (the name from the first dimension with a dimname).

 > sessionInfo()
R version 2.8.1 (2008-12-22)

LC_COLLATE=English_United States.1252;LC_CTYPE=English_United States.1252;LC_MONETARY=English_United
States.1252;LC_NUMERIC=C;LC_TIME=English_United States.1252

attached base packages:
[1] stats graphics grDevices utils datasets methods base
 > mailing list Received on Fri 30 Jan 2009 - 17:50:40 GMT

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