[Rd] Recycling in arithmetic operations involving zero-length vectors
David Winsemius
dw|n@em|u@ @end|ng |rom comc@@t@net
Mon Jan 16 12:55:54 CET 2023
Sent from my iPhone
> On Jan 16, 2023, at 6:11 PM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan using gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On 16/01/2023 5:23 a.m., Roland Fuß wrote:
>> Dear R-core,
>> The language definition is very clear:
>> "As from R 1.4.0, any arithmetic operation involving a zero-length
>> vector has a zero-length result."
>> Thus, `1 + numeric()` returns `numeric(0)`. However, I don't find this
>> very intuitive because usually the shorter vector is recycled to the
>> length of the longer vector. Would it be possible to throw at least a
>> warning for such cases? I don't expect them to be intended by most users.
>> Best regards,
>
> The previous paragraph says "If the length of the longer vector is not a multiple of the shorter one, a warning is given." Since 1 is not a multiple of 0, that implies a warning should be given here.
>
> However, R 1.4.0 was released more than 20 years ago, so I would guess there are lots of packages intentionally using this. For example, it's a way to propagate bad inputs through a long calculation that allows a single test at the end.
>
> And even unintentional uses are unlikely to lead to problematic results: numeric(0) is usually a pretty clear signal that something is wrong.
>
> So I'd suggest a documentation change: "As from R 1.4.0, any arithmetic operation involving a zero-length vector has a zero-length result *without a warning*."
I doubt that a documentation change will help very much. Roland is responding here with his and my surprise at the lack of a warning after witnessing my answer to an R newb Q where the impression at seeing ’numeric(0) was understood as the value 0. I suggested that many interpretations were possible and that a warning was given for NA generation. I stand with Roland in thinking a warning is appropriate.
David Winsemius
>
> Duncan Murdoch
>
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