[Rd] Question about match.fun()

Berwin A Turlach berwin at maths.uwa.edu.au
Tue May 9 09:49:02 CEST 2006

Dear all,

I was recently contacted by a user about an alledged problem/bug in
the latest version of lasso2.  After some investigation, we found out
that it was a user error which boils down to the following:

> x <- matrix(rnorm(200), ncol=2)
> var <- "fred"
> apply(x, 2, var)
Error in get(x, envir, mode, inherits) : variable "fred" of mode "function" was not found

only that the "offending" apply() command happened inside the gl1ce()
function of lasso2.

I was under the impression that R can now distinguish between
variables and functions with the same name and, indeed, the following

> var <- 2
> apply(x, 2, var)
[1] 1.053002 1.250875

Poking a bit around, I guess that the ability to distinguish between
variables and functions with the same name comes from the introduction
of the function match.fun() and, after reading its help page, the
reasons why an error is triggered the first time but not the second
time is perfectly clear to me.

I wonder whether it would make sense to change match.fun() such that
the first case does not result in an error?  I was thinking along the
line that if the argument to match.fun() is a variable that contains a
character vector of length one then, using get(), match.fun() attemps
to find a function with that name.  If the get() command does not
succeed, then a second try is made using the name of the variable
passed by the caller to match.fun().

So before trying to modify match.fun() and submitting a patch, I
wanted to ask whether such a change would be accepted?  Is there an
argument that I don't see that the first case should always result in
an error and not be silently resolved?



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