[Rd] Using substitute to access the expression related to a promise

Hadley Wickham hadley at rice.edu
Mon May 2 16:34:28 CEST 2011

On Mon, May 2, 2011 at 9:10 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 02/05/2011 9:53 AM, Hadley Wickham wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> The help for delayedAssign suggests that you can use substitute to
>> access the expression associated with a promise, and the help for
>> substitute says: "If it is a promise object, i.e., a formal argument
>> to a function or explicitly created using ‘delayedAssign()’, the
>> expression slot of the promise replaces the symbol.
>> But this doesn't seem to work:
>> >  a<- 1
>> >  b<- 2
>> >  delayedAssign("x", {message("assigning..."); a + b})
>> >  substitute(x)
>> x
>> >  x
>> [1] 3
>> Is this a bug in substitute?
> I think it is a design flaw rather than a bug:  the global environment is
> handled specially.  If you put those lines into a function you'll see
> different behaviour.  I think if you really carefully read the documentation
> you'll find it says this.

I guess you mean this sentence: "If it is an ordinary variable, its
value is substituted, unless ‘env’ is ‘.GlobalEnv’ in which case the
symbol is left unchanged."  But I think the conditioning is confusing,
because it implies that this condition only comes into play if x is an
ordinary variable, which is not the case in my example.


Assistant Professor / Dobelman Family Junior Chair
Department of Statistics / Rice University

More information about the R-devel mailing list