[R] Regex Split?

@vi@e@gross m@iii@g oii gm@ii@com @vi@e@gross m@iii@g oii gm@ii@com
Fri May 5 22:20:45 CEST 2023


It can be helpful to spell out your intent in English or some of us have to go back to the documentation to remember what some of the operators do.

Your text being searched seems to be an example of items between comas with an optional space after some commas and in one case, nothing between commas.

So what is your goal for the example, and in general? You mention a bit unclearly at the end some of what you expect and I think it would be clearer if you also showed exactly the output you would want.

I saw some other replies that addressed what you wanted and am going to reply in another direction.

Why do things the hard way using things like lookahead or look behind? Would several steps get you the result way more clearly?

For the sake of argument, you either want what reading in a CSV file would supply, or something else. Since you are not simply splitting on commas, it sounds like something else. But what exactly else? Something as simple as this on just a comma produces results including empty strings and embedded leading or trailing spaces:

strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", ",")
[1] "a bc"   "def"    " adef " ""       "gh"  

That can of course be handled by, for example, trimming the result after unlisting the odd way strsplit returns results:

str_squish(unlist(strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", ",")))

[1] "a bc" "def"  "adef" ""     "gh"  

Now do you want the empty string to be something else, such as an NA? That can be done too with another step.

And a completely different variant can be used to read in your one-line CSV as text using standard overkill tools:

> read.table(text="a bc,def, adef ,,gh", sep=",")
    V1  V2     V3 V4 V5
1 a bc def  adef  NA gh

The above is a vector of texts. But if you simply want to reassemble your initial string cleaned up a bit, you can use paste to put back commas, as in a variation of the earlier example:

> paste(str_squish(unlist(strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", ","))), collapse=",")
[1] "a bc,def,adef,,gh"

So my question is whether using advanced methods is really necessary for your case, or even particularly efficient. If efficiency matters, often, it is better to use tools without regular expressions such as paste0() when they meet your needs.

Of course, unless I know what you are actually trying to do, my remarks may be not useful. 

-----Original Message-----
From: R-help <r-help-bounces using r-project.org> On Behalf Of Leonard Mada via R-help
Sent: Thursday, May 4, 2023 5:00 PM
To: R-help Mailing List <r-help using r-project.org>
Subject: [R] Regex Split?

Dear R-Users,

I tried the following 3 Regex expressions in R 4.3:
strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", " |(?=,)|(?<=,)(?![ ])", perl=T)
# "a"    "bc"   ","    "def"  ","    ""     "adef" ","    "," "gh"

strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", " |(?<! )(?=,)|(?<=,)(?![ ])", perl=T)
# "a"    "bc"   ","    "def"  ","    ""     "adef" ","    "," "gh"

strsplit("a bc,def, adef ,,gh", " |(?<! )(?=,)|(?<=,)(?=[^ ])", perl=T)
# "a"    "bc"   ","    "def"  ","    ""     "adef" ","    "," "gh"

Is this correct?

I feel that:
- none should return (after "def"): ",", "";
- the first one could also return "", "," (but probably not; not fully 
sure about this);



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