[Rd] unlisting a list with names components (PR#645)

ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk
Fri, 29 Dec 2000 10:44:09 +0100 (MET)

Summary of report from Peter Perkins <pperkins@ucsd.edu> on Sat Aug 26
09:41:52 2000

i think the lines below demonstrate a problem with unlist when the list
contains components that are names.  _anything_ can go in a list,
right?  this came up in the context of trying to
unlist(list(attr(terms(formula), "variables")).

> list2 <- list(a="a", b=as.name("b"))
> unlist(list2)
[1] "a"


This seems to be intentional, but the documentation is wrong.  The C code

    /* If a non-vector argument was encountered (perhaps a list if */
    /* recursive = F) then we must return a list.  Otherwise, we use */
    /* the natural coercion for vector types. */

A language element (e.g. a `name') is non-vector.  So anything can go in a
list, but unlist cannot sort out anything.

S does this differently, but then it stores non-vector types differently.

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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