[Rd] Using missing() in a S4 method with extra arguments

Andreas Borg andreas.borg at unimedizin-mainz.de
Fri Mar 11 11:07:00 CET 2011

Hi all,

I have a function which makes use of missing() to determine which 
arguments are provided in the call - basically, there are two sets of 
arguments that map to different strategies the function uses to fulfill 
its task. After conversion to an S4 generic I've run into the problem 
that if a method uses extra arguments that are not in the signature of 
the generic, usage of missing() fails. The following example exemplifies 

    setGeneric("fun", function(x=0, y=0, ...) standardGeneric("fun"))
    # both methods should output if the second argument is missing
    setMethod("fun", "character", function(x=0, y=0, ...) missing(y))
    setMethod("fun", "numeric", function(x=0, y=0, z=0, ...) missing(y))

    fun("a") # this works fine
    fun(1) # this gives "FALSE

I've understood so far that this is due to the fact that the "numeric" 
method in this example is rewritten to:

    function (x = 0, y = 0, ...)
        .local <- function (x = 0, y = 0, z = 0, ...)
        .local(x, y, ...)

The call to .local evaluates y and it is no more missing.

Is there any alternative that works in this case? Or is there a chance 
that missing() might be changed to work in this case in the near future?

Of course I know I could set NA or NULL as default values and check for 
these, but there are reasons I want to have legal default values for all

Best regards,


Andreas Borg
Medizinische Informatik

der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität
Institut für Medizinische Biometrie, Epidemiologie und Informatik
Obere Zahlbacher Straße 69, 55131 Mainz

Telefon +49 (0) 6131 175062
E-Mail: borg at imbei.uni-mainz.de

Diese E-Mail enthält vertrauliche und/oder rechtlich geschützte Informationen. Wenn Sie nicht der
richtige Adressat sind oder diese E-Mail irrtümlich erhalten haben, informieren Sie bitte sofort den
Absender und löschen Sie diese Mail. Das unerlaubte Kopieren sowie die unbefugte Weitergabe
dieser Mail und der darin enthaltenen Informationen ist nicht gestattet.

More information about the R-devel mailing list