[R] avoiding "for()" loops: a question?

Brett Magill bmagill at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 2 22:12:12 CEST 2002

I have read in several places that one should attempt to avoid for loops
whenever possible.  In this spirit, I was playing with some code that I have
written to improve its efficiency and elegance.

The following iteratively drops a column from a data frame and applies a
function to the reminaing columns.  I replaced this for loop:

for (y in 1:dim(x)[2])  my.function (x[,-y])

with this:

sapply(1:dim(x)[2], function(y) my.function (x[,-y] ))

in an attempt to aviod "for()".

However, using system.time() to compare performance of the two functions shows
no difference in performance over 30 trials with each function on a 500 X 24
matrix (any edge seems in favor of the for loop).  (Win 98,PIII,128M,R 1.5.1)

Is the issue with the way I used sapply?  Is there a better way to do this?
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