[R] "Error: bad value" problem

Peter Dalgaard p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Thu Dec 18 01:09:03 CET 2008

Rolf Turner wrote:
> On 18/12/2008, at 11:34 AM, Richard E. Chandler wrote:
>> Dear R-help,
>> Like several other subscribers, I have recently encountered a problem
>> whereby R will execute code apparently correctly and without error,
>> but any subsequent command will yield "Error: bad value" so that R
>> has to be killed and restarted. We have checked this out with a few
>> different operating systems (Windows XP/Vista and Linux) and with
>> different versions of R. We have established the following:
>> 1.    The error occurs with versions of R from 2.5.0 onwards on all the
>> OSs we have tried, but not with earlier versions of R.
>> 2.    The error is not reproducable between machines - identical code
>> will fail at different points on two different machines.
>> 3.    The error is not related to contributed packages, because our code
>> doesn't use any. The code *does*, however, use repeated calls to
>> optim() and nlm(), and passes several arguments through a sequence of
>> functions using "...".
>> 4.    Occasionally, we get an error relating to subset replacement
>> instead of "Error:bad value". For example:
>>> x <- rnorm(10)
>>> x[1] <- 3
>> Error in x[1] <- 3 : could not find function "[<-"
>> 5.    The error behaviour changes as a result of minor modifications to
>> print() statements in the code e.g. by inserting a line that prints
>> the value of a well-defined variable.
>> I suspect this really *is* a bug (particularly since it only started
>> happening with version 2.5.0), but I figure it would be worth giving
>> people a chance to tell me I'm an idiot before reporting it as such.
>> In case anybody would like to try and see the error for themselves, I
>> have uploaded some files to
>> http://www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~ucakarc/Rtest/. The file ErrorDemo.r
>> is the main script - see the file header there for more details.
>> Files momfit.r and elmstats.dat are also required for this example to
>> work. I'm sorry that it isn't a very simple example, but I haven't
>> seen a simple illustration of the problem (and I couldn't find any
>> examples in the list archives either).
> I can confirm that the error occurs.
> I downloaded the files and sourced ``ErrorDemo.R''. Doing x <- rnorm(10)
> after doing so triggered the error.  Subsequently attempting traceback()
> (or anything else) simply triggered the error again.
> Good luck to R Core in tracking this down!

Unfortunately, there's at least on R Core member for which it does NOT 
happen... Fedora 9 i686, R 2.8.0 and 2.8.1 RC (2008-12-15 r47214)

    O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Øster Farimagsgade 5, Entr.B
   c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     PO Box 2099, 1014 Cph. K
  (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph:  (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)              FAX: (+45) 35327907

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