[R] Sorting a data frame when you don't know the columns

Dimitris Rizopoulos dimitris.rizopoulos at med.kuleuven.be
Tue Nov 28 12:03:18 CET 2006

try this:

dat <- data.frame(x = rnorm(100), y = sample(rep(1:2, each = 50)), z = 
sample(rep(1:4, 25)))
nams <- c("y", "z")
dat[do.call(order, dat[nams]), ]

I hope it helps.


Dimitris Rizopoulos
Ph.D. Student
Biostatistical Centre
School of Public Health
Catholic University of Leuven

Address: Kapucijnenvoer 35, Leuven, Belgium
Tel: +32/(0)16/336899
Fax: +32/(0)16/337015
Web: http://med.kuleuven.be/biostat/

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "michael watson (IAH-C)" <michael.watson at bbsrc.ac.uk>
To: <r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch>
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:45 AM
Subject: [R] Sorting a data frame when you don't know the columns

> Hi
> Sorry to ask such a well oiled question, but even with multiple 
> google hits I don't think this has been answered very well.
> It's all well and good doing a sort of a data frame on multiple 
> columns when you know in advance which columns you want to sort on, 
> but what about when the names of the columns you wish to sort on are 
> in a vector?
> At the minute I'm messing about with paste() to form a string that 
> works for order() and then calling do.call().  Is this really the 
> best way of doing it?
> Thanks
> Mick
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