Dealing with missing values

March 8, 2009

(This article was first published on One R Tip A Day, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Two new quick tips from ‘almost regular’ contributor Jason:

Handling missing values in R can be tricky. Let’s say you have a table
with missing values you’d like to read from disk. Reading in the table

read.table( fileName )

might fail. If your table is properly formatted, then R can determine
what’s a missing value by using the “sep” option in read.table:

read.table( fileName, sep=”\t” )

This tells R that all my columns will be separated by TABS regardless of
whether there’s data there or not. So, make sure that your file on disk
really is fully TAB separated: if there is a missing data point you must
have a TAB to tell R that this datum is missing and to move to the next
field for processing.

Lastly, don’t forget the “header=T” option if you have a header line in
your file.

Here’s the 2nd tip:

Some algorithms in R don’t support missing (NA) values. If you have a
data.frame with missing values and quickly want the ROWS with any
missing data to be removed then try:

myData[rowSums(, ]

To find NA values in your data you have to use the “” function.

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