M.Dimo M.Dimo - 7 days ago 5
R Question

using data.table to flag the first (or last) record in a group

Given a sortkey, is there a data.table shortcut to duplicate the

first
and
last
functionalities found in SAS and SPSS ?

The pedestrian approach below flags the first record of a group.

Given the elegance of data.table (with which I'm slowly getting familiar), I'm assuming there's a shortcut using a self join &
mult
, but I'm still trying to figure it out.

Here's the example:

require(data.table)

set.seed(123)
n <- 17
DT <- data.table(x=sample(letters[1:3],n,replace=T),
y=sample(LETTERS[1:3],n,replace=T))
sortkey <- c("x","y")
setkeyv(DT,sortkey)
key <- paste(DT$x,DT$y,sep="-")
nw <- c( T , key[2:n]!=key[1:(n-1)] )
DT$first <- 1*nw
DT

Answer

Here are couple of solutions using data.table:

## Option 1 (cleaner solution, added 2016-11-29)
uDT <- unique(DT)
DT[, c("first","last"):=0L]
DT[uDT, first:=1L, mult="first"]
DT[uDT, last:=1L, mult="last"]


## Option 2 (original answer, retained for posterity)
DT <- cbind(DT, first=0L, last=0L)
DT[DT[unique(DT),,mult="first", which=TRUE], first:=1L]
DT[DT[unique(DT),,mult="last", which=TRUE], last:=1L]

head(DT)
#      x y first last
# [1,] a A     1    1
# [2,] a B     1    1
# [3,] a C     1    0
# [4,] a C     0    1
# [5,] b A     1    1
# [6,] b B     1    1

There's obviously a lot packed into each of those lines. The key construct, though, is the following, which returns the row index of the first record in each group:

DT[unique(DT),,mult="first", which=TRUE]
# [1]  1  2  3  5  6  7 11 13 15