[Rd] Suggestion: Adding quick rowMin and rowMax functions to base package

Sebastian Kranz skranz at uni-bonn.de
Mon Mar 29 21:34:56 CEST 2010


I wonder whether similarly to the very quick rowSums and colSums 
functions in the base package, one could add quick functions that 
calculate the min or max over rows / cols in a matrix. While 
apply(x,1,min) works, I found out by profiling a program of mine that it 
is rather slow for matrices with a very large number of rows. A quick 
functionality seems to be already there in the functions pmax and pmin, 
but it is rather cumbersume to apply them to all columns of a matrix (if 
one does not know how many columns the matrix has).  Below, I have some 
code that shows a very unelegant implementation that illustrates 
possible speed gains if apply could be avoided:

rowMin = function(x) {
    # Construct a call pmin(x[,1],x[,2],...x[,NCOL(x)])
     code = paste("x[,",1:(NCOL(x)),"]",sep="",collapse=",")
     code = paste("pmin(",code,")")

# Speed comparison: Taking rowMin of a 1,000,000 x 10 matrix
x = matrix(rnorm(1e7),1e6,10)

# The traditional apply method
y=apply(x,1,min) # Runtime ca. 12 seconds

# My unelegant rowMin function
z=rowMin(x) # Runtime ca 0.5 seconds

Of course, the way the function rowMin is constructed is highly 
ineffective if the matrix x has many columns, but maybe there is a 
simple way to adapt the code from pmin and pmax to create quick rowMin, 
rowMax,... functions. I don't know whether it is worth the effort, but I 
guess taking minima and maxima over rows is a common task.

Best wishes,

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