Search and replace: Are you tired of nested `ifelse`?

January 6, 2013

(This article was first published on R de jeu, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

It happens all the time: you have a vector of fruits and you want to replace all bananas with apples, all oranges with pineapples, and leave all the other fruits as-is, or maybe change them all to figs. The usual solution? A big old nested `ifelse`:

Ok, that didn’t look too bad, especially with the code and fruits nicely aligned. But what if I had a lot of fruits to change and little patience? Wouldn’t it be nice if R had a built-in function for doing multiple search and replace? Someone please tell me if there is already such a function. If not, here is one I wrote that builds a nested `ifelse` function by recursion:

Note that I named the function after the `decode` SQL function. Here are a couple examples:

Feel free to use it with your favorite fruits or vegetables! Cheers!

P.S.: I wrote this function as an answer to this S.O. question. Thank you to Matthew Lundberg for sharing ideas.

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