[R] More efficient alternative to combn()?

Sharpie chuck at sharpsteen.net
Fri Mar 26 14:02:41 CET 2010

elgorgonzola wrote:
> Hi,
> i am working on a problem where i need to compute the products of all
> possible combinations of size m of the elements of a vector. I know that
> this can be achieved using the function combn(), e.g.:
>> vector <- 1:6
>> combn(x = vector, m = 3, FUN = function(y) prod(y))
> In my case the vector has 2000 elements and i need to compute the values
> specified above for m = 32. Using combn() i encounter problems for m >= 4.
> Is there any alternative to combn() that works more efficiently? Also my
> vector contains many duplicates, so there are actually only about 300
> distinct values in the vector. This reduces the number of possible
> combinations significantly. Is there any way to use this fact to reduce
> the computational cost?
> Thanks in advance,
> El

The unique() function can be used to quickly filter out duplicates in your
input function.  I am not aware of an alternative implementation of combn(),
but that doesn't mean there isn't one out there.

Good luck!


Charlie Sharpsteen
Undergraduate-- Environmental Resources Engineering
Humboldt State University
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