# [Rd] Quiz: How to get a "named column" from a data frame

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Sat Aug 18 18:33:36 CEST 2012

```>>>>> Joshua Ulrich <josh.m.ulrich at gmail.com>
>>>>>     on Sat, 18 Aug 2012 10:16:09 -0500 writes:

> I don't know if this is better, but it's the most obvious/shortest I
> could come up with.  Transpose the data.frame column to a 'row' vector
> and drop the dimensions.

R> identical(nv, drop(t(df)))
> [1] TRUE

Yes, that's definitely shorter,
congratulations!

One gotta is that I'd want a solution that also works when the
df has more columns than just one...

Your idea to use  t(.) is nice and "perfect" insofar as it
coerces the data frame to a matrix, and that's really the clue:

Where as  df[,1]  is losing the names,
the matrix indexing is not.
So your solution can be changed into

t(df)[1,]

which is even shorter...
and slightly less efficient, at least conceptually, than mine, which has
been

as.matrix(df)[,1]

Now, the remaining question is:  Shouldn't there be something
more natural to achieve that?
(There is not, currently, AFAIK).

Martin

> Best,
> --

> On Sat, Aug 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM, Martin Maechler
> <maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch> wrote:
>> Today, I was looking for an elegant (and efficient) way to get a named
>> (atomic) vector by selecting one column of a data frame.  Of course,
>> the vector names must be the rownames of the data frame.
>>
>> Ok, here is the quiz, I know one quite "cute"/"slick" answer, but was
>> wondering if there are obvious better ones, and also if this should
>> not become more idiomatic (hence "R-devel"):
>>
>> Consider this toy example, where the dataframe already has only one
>> column :
>>
>>> nv <- c(a=1, d=17, e=101); nv
>> a   d   e
>> 1  17 101
>>
>>> df <- as.data.frame(cbind(VAR = nv)); df
>> VAR
>> a   1
>> d  17
>> e 101
>>
>> Now how, can I get 'nv' back from 'df' ?   I.e., how to get
>>
>>> identical(nv, .......)
>> [1] TRUE
>>
>> where ...... only uses 'df' (and no non-standard R packages)?
>>
>> As said, I know a simple solution (*), but I'm sure it is not
>> obvious to most R users and probably not even to the majority of
>> R-devel readers... OTOH, people like Bill Dunlap will not take
>> long to provide it or a better one.
>>
>> (*) In my solution, the above '.......' consists of 17 letters.
>> I'll post it later today (CEST time) ... or confirm
>> that someone else has done so.
>>
>> Martin
>>
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

```