"as.numeric" / "As.numeric" [was "R-beta: bugs and problems"]

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Tue Jun 2 12:02:15 CEST 1998

>>>>> "Jim" == Jim Lindsey <jlindsey at luc.ac.be> writes:

    Jim>  .....

    Jim> 3. To obtain the codes of a factor variable, one uses
    Jim> as.numeric().  However, this function destroys the properties of
    Jim> the matrix, turning it into a vector.

as.numeric(.) behaves so consistently (also in S-plus);
it has been a `pain' in other situations, such as passing a numeric matrix
to C or Fortran and wanting the result to still be a matrix.

The ``well-known'' (:-) solution is to use

	storage.mode(x) <- "numeric"

instead, which is rather clumy, especially when passing arguments to
I've seen
	As.numeric <- function(x) { storage.mode(x) <- "numeric"; x }
solving the above problem.

What do you (R-help readers !) think?
Should we add this (and corresponding  As.integer, As.character, ....)
to R ?
Or rather use a different function name?
However, not "as.numeric" itself! 
For such a basic function, we usually don't want to be unnecessarily
incompatible. User functions written for both R and S should get the same
thing for as.numeric(.).

Martin Maechler <maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch>			<><
Seminar fuer Statistik, ETH-Zentrum SOL G1;	Sonneggstr.33
ETH (Federal Inst. Technology)	8092 Zurich	SWITZERLAND
phone: x-41-1-632-3408		fax: ...-1086

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