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In 2006 UserR conference Jim Porzak gave a presentation on data profiling with R. He showed how to draw summary panels of the data using a combination of grid and base graphics.

Unfortunately the code has not (yet) been released as a package, so when I recently needed to quickly review several datasets at the beginning of an analysis project I started to look for alternatives. A quick search revealed two options that offer similar functionality: `r2lUniv` package and `describe()` function in `Hmisc` package.

## r2lUniv

`r2lUniv` package performs quick analysis either on a single variable or on a dataframe by computing several statistics (frequency, centrality, dispersion, graph) for each variable and outputs the results in a LaTeX format. The output varies depending on the variable type.

> library(r2lUniv) |

One can specify the text to be inserted in front of each section.

> textBefore <- paste("\\subsection{", names(mtcars), + "}", sep = "") > rtlu(mtcars, "fileOut.tex", textBefore = textBefore) |

The function `rtluMainFile` generates a LaTeX main document design and allows to further customise the report.

> text <- "\\input{fileOut.tex}" > rtluMainFile("r2lUniv_report.tex", text = text) |

The resulting tex-file can then be converted into pdf.

> library(tools) > texi2dvi("r2lUniv_report.tex", pdf = TRUE, clean = TRUE) |

A sample output for the mpg-variable:

The final pdf-output can be seen here: r2lUniv_report.pdf.

## Hmisc

The `describe` function in Hmisc package determines whether the variable is character, factor, category, binary, discrete numeric, and continuous numeric, and prints a concise statistical summary according to each. The latex report also includes a spike histogram displaying the frequency counts.

> library(Hmisc) |

> db <- describe(mtcars, size = "normalsize") |

The easiest and fastest way is to print the results to the console.

> db$mpg mpg n missing unique Mean .05 .10 .25 .50 32 0 25 20.09 12.00 14.34 15.43 19.20 .75 .90 .95 22.80 30.09 31.30 lowest : 10.4 13.3 14.3 14.7 15.0 highest: 26.0 27.3 30.4 32.4 33.9 |

Alternatively, one can convert the `describe` object into a LaTeX file.

> x <- latex(db, file = "describe.tex") |

`cat` is used to generate the tex-report.

> text2 <- "\\documentclass{article}\n\\usepackage{relsize,setspace}\n\\begin{document}\n\\input{describe.tex} \n\\end{document}" > cat(text2, file = "Hmisc_describe_report.tex") |

> library(tools) > texi2dvi("Hmisc_describe_report.tex", pdf = TRUE) |

A sample output for the mpg-variable:

The final pdf-report can be seen here: Hmisc_describe_report.pdf.

## Conclusion

Both of the functions provide similar snapshots of the data, however I prefer the `describe` function for its more concise output, and also for the option to print the analysis to the console. Whilst I like the summary plots generated by `r2lUniv` I find them hard to read in the pdf-report because of the small font-size of the labels.

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