[R] factor : how does it work ?

From: Florence Combes <fcombes_at_gmail.com>
Date: Thu 06 Oct 2005 - 23:14:59 EST


Dear all,

I try for long to understand exactly what is the factor type and especially how it works, but it seems too difficult for me.... I read paragraphs about it, and I understand quite well what it is (I think) but I still can't figure how to deal with. Especially these 2 mysteries (for me) :

1st when I make a dataframe (with the as.data.frame() or the data.frame() commands) from vectors, it seems that some "columns" of the dataframe (which where vectors) are factors and some not, but I didn't find an explanation for which become factor and which don't. (I know I can use I() to avoid the factor transformaton but I think it is not an optimal solution to avoid the factor type just because I don't kno how to deal with)

2d I can't manage to deal with factors, so when I have some, I transform them in vectors (with levels()), but I think I miss the power and utility of the factor type ?

Any help GREATLY appreciated,
best regards,

Florence.

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