[R] Ordered factors and DBMS
fharrell at virginia.edu
Fri Oct 5 04:47:34 CEST 2001
David James wrote:
> Frank E Harrell Jr wrote:
> > As someone mentioned in a previous posting, the inherent ENUM and
> > SET data types in MySQL give it an advantage in this area.
> Unfortunately this is highly non-portable. Moreover, the conversion
> is not 1-1, for both factors and ordered factors get mapped into
> MySQL's ENUM creating an ambiguity when we fetch a previously
> exported R/S object. XML, as you point out, is more amenable for
> this type of higher-level specification.
Thanks very much for your note David. As I plan to stick with
MySQL and to drive the database creation from the metadata in
XML the non-portability is not an issue for me. The metadata
can also direct a "smart" export from MySQL into other
DBMS if the need ever arises. The metadata can also provide
the original ordering of categories (which I will use mainly
as the display order on pull-down lists), and this can be
communicated to R to adjust a data frame after import.
> > I am just starting to work on a project in which XML
> > Metadata specifies a MySQL database (including factor
> > levels for ENUM and SET (multiple choice instead of single)
> > fields). This metadata will later drive some "smart"
> > import functions in R that will make such variables
> > immediately analyzable and self-documenting. Some
> > mocked-up examples are at the end of the slides from
> > a talk I recently gave, available at
> > http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat/dm
> > I prefer to use the inherent data types rather than
> > making factor labels reside in a separate SQL table.
> No problem (I think) for self-contained applications whose
> data will not need to migrate from one RDBMS to another.
> But I second Tim's suggestion that we should be thinking
> about this problem in general terms, both beyond factors and
> > I have only just begun to look at RMySQL documentation.
> > Does RMySQL fetch SET variables as binary integers
> > such that selected choices can be sensed once
> > the bit mapping is known?
> No, currently we (naively) fetched these as character vectors,
> following the practice in Paul DuBois' "MySQL". I'm happy to
> hear any suggestion...
I think a nice solution would be to fetch those as integers
using MySQL's binary bit string representation. This could
create a variable of class 'mchoice' for multiple choice,
with attribute mlevels containing the vector of character
strings corresponding to the MySQL bit mappings in the
64-bit integer that represents a SET variable. The only
downside to SET to me is the 64-choice limitation.
Integer representation of ENUM types, which is consistent
with internal storage of factors in S I believe,
will preserve the ordering of
levels so that a simple conversion to an ordered factor
would suffice. So dispensing with character vectors for
both ENUM and SET will be a help I think, assuming
the vector of labels defined to MySQL can be referenced
> > Frank Harrell
> > Jason Turner wrote:
> > >
> > > Additions to Doug Bates' suggestions
> > >
> > > > ... it could be expressed naturally as two tables and a
> > > > join. The first table would contain the data as factor levels and the
> > > > second table would give the correspondence between levels and labels.
> > >
> > > I think this is probably the most clear and elegant way to do it.
> > >
> > > > Another possibility is to define a PostgreSQL data type for this.
> > >
> > > See the PosgreSQL documentation for "CREATE TYPE".
> > >
> > > Cheers
> > >
> > > Jason
> > > --
> > > Indigo Industrial Controls Ltd.
> > > 64-21-343-545
> > > jasont at indigoindustrial.co.nz
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> > --
> > Frank E Harrell Jr Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
> > Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation Sciences
> > U. Virginia School of Medicine http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat
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> David A. James
> Statistics Research, Room 2C-253 Phone: (908) 582-3082
> Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies Fax: (908) 582-3340
> Murray Hill, NJ 09794-0636
Frank E Harrell Jr Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation Sciences
U. Virginia School of Medicine http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat
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