[Rd] Reading 64-bit integers

William Dunlap wdunlap at tibco.com
Tue Mar 29 21:33:01 CEST 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: r-devel-bounces at r-project.org 
> [mailto:r-devel-bounces at r-project.org] On Behalf Of Jon Clayden
> Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 5:46 AM
> To: r-devel at r-project.org
> Subject: [Rd] Reading 64-bit integers
> Dear all,
> I see from some previous threads that support for 64-bit integers in R
> may be an aim for future versions, but in the meantime I'm wondering
> whether it is possible to read in integers of greater than 32 bits at
> all. Judging from ?readBin, it should be possible to read 8-byte
> integers to some degree, but it is clearly limited in practice by R's
> internally 32-bit integer type:
> > x <- as.raw(c(0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0))
> > (readBin(x,"integer",n=1,size=8,signed=F,endian="big"))
> [1] 16777216
> > x <- as.raw(c(0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0))
> > (readBin(x,"integer",n=1,size=8,signed=F,endian="big"))
> [1] 0
> For values that fit into 32 bits it works fine, but for larger values
> it fails. (I'm a bit surprised by the zero - should the value not be
> NA if it is out of range?) The value can be represented as a double,
> though:
> > 4294967296
> [1] 4294967296
> I wouldn't expect readBin() to return a double if an integer was
> requested, but is there any way to get the correct value out of it?

In S+'s readBin() you can use the argument output="double" to
read 8-byte integers from a file and to put the closest equivalent
value into a double precision vector.  It is also useful when reading
unsigned 4-byte integers that may be above 2^31.  The help file says
          Like what but used when the type of data in the file is
          different than the type of S-PLUS vector used to store the
          data. what refers to the data in the file and output refers to
          the output of readBin. output=double() is useful for reading
          unsigned 4 byte integers (so integers bigger than 2^31 are not
          read as negative numbers) or even for 8 byte integers on
          versions of Splus. In the latter case you may lose some
          precision, but reading it as 4 byte integers will omit the 4
          high order bytes.
> I
> suppose one could read the bytes into a raw vector and then
> reconstruct the number manually from that, but is there a more elegant
> or built-in solution that I'm not aware of?
> This is R 2.12.1 on Mac OS X.6.7 - .Machine$sizeof.long is 8.
> Many thanks,
> Jon
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