# Chapter 7 Defining your own functions

In this section we are going to learn some advanced concepts that are going to make you into a full-fledged R programmer. Before this chapter you only used whatever R came with, as well as the functions contained in packages. We did define some functions ourselves in Chapter 6 already, but without going into many details. In this chapter, we will learn about building functions ourselves, and do so in greater detail than what we did before.

## 7.1 Control flow

Knowing about control flow is essential to build your own functions. Without control flow statements, such as if-else statements or loops (or, in the case of pure functional programming languages, recursion), programming languages would be very limited.

### 7.1.1 If-else

Imagine you want a variable to be equal to a certain value if a condition is met. This is a typical
problem that requires the `if ... else ...`

construct. For instance:

```
<- 4
a <- 5 b
```

Suppose that if `a > b`

then `f`

should be equal to 20, else `f`

should be equal to 10. Using `if ... else ...`

you can achieve this like so:

```
if (a > b) {
<- 20
f else {
} <- 10
f }
```

Obviously, here `f = 10`

. Another way to achieve this is by using the `ifelse()`

function:

`<- ifelse(a > b, 20, 10) f `

`if...else...`

and `ifelse()`

might seem interchangeable, but they’re not. `ifelse()`

is vectorized, while
`if...else..`

is not. Let’s try the following:

`ifelse(c(1,2,4) > c(3, 1, 0), "yes", "no")`

`## [1] "no" "yes" "yes"`

The result is a vector. Now, let’s see what happens if we use `if...else...`

instead of `ifelse()`

:

`if (c(1, 2, 4) > c(3, 1, 0)) print("yes") else print("no")`

```
> Error in if (c(1, 2, 4) > c(3, 1, 0)) print("yes") else print("no") :
> 1 the condition has length
```

This results in an error (in previous R version, only the first element of the vector would get used).
We have already discussed this in Chapter 2, remember? If you want to make sure that such an expression
evaluates to `TRUE`

, then you need to use `all()`

:

`ifelse(all(c(1,2,4) > c(3, 1, 0)), "all elements are greater", "not all elements are greater")`

`## [1] "not all elements are greater"`

You may also remember the `any()`

function:

`ifelse(any(c(1,2,4) > c(3, 1, 0)), "at least one element is greater", "no element greater")`

`## [1] "at least one element is greater"`

These are the basics. But sometimes, you might need to test for more complex conditions, which can
lead to using nested `if...else...`

constructs. These, however, can get messy:

```
if (10 %% 3 == 0) {
print("10 is divisible by 3")
else if (10 %% 2 == 0) {
} print("10 is divisible by 2")
}
```

`## [1] "10 is divisible by 2"`

10 being obviously divisible by 2 and not 3, it is the second sentence that will be printed. The
`%%`

operator is the modulus operator, which gives the rest of the division of 10 by 2. In such
cases, it is easier to use `dplyr::case_when()`

:

```
case_when(10 %% 3 == 0 ~ "10 is divisible by 3",
10 %% 2 == 0 ~ "10 is divisible by 2")
```

`## [1] "10 is divisible by 2"`

We have already encountered this function in Chapter 4, inside a `dplyr::mutate()`

call to create a new column.

Let’s now discuss loops.

### 7.1.2 For loops

For loops make it possible to repeat a set of instructions `i`

times. For example, try the following:

```
for (i in 1:10){
print("hello")
}
```

```
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
## [1] "hello"
```

It is also possible to do computations using for loops. Let’s compute the sum of the first 100 integers:

```
<- 0
result for (i in 1:100){
<- result + i
result
}
print(result)
```

`## [1] 5050`

`result`

is equal to 5050, the expected result. What happened in that loop? First, we defined a
variable called `result`

and set it to 0. Then, when the loops starts, `i`

equals 1, so we add
`result`

to `1`

, which is 1. Then, `i`

equals 2, and again, we add `result`

to `i`

. But this time,
`result`

equals 1 and `i`

equals 2, so now `result`

equals 3, and we repeat this until `i`

equals 100. If you know a programming language like C, this probably looks familiar. However, R is
not C, and you should, if possible, avoid writing code that looks like this. You should always
ask yourself the following questions:

- Is there an inbuilt function to achieve what I need? In this case we have
`sum()`

, so we could use`sum(seq(1, 100))`

. - Is there a way to use matrix algebra? This can sometimes make things easier, but it depends how comfortable
you are with matrix algebra. This would be the solution with matrix algebra:
`rep(1, 100) %*% seq(1, 100)`

. - Is there a way to use building blocks that are already available? For instance, suppose that
`sum()`

would not be a function available in R. Another way to solve this issue would be to use the following building blocks:`+`

, which computes the sum of two numbers and`Reduce()`

, which*reduces*a list of elements using an operator. Sounds complicated? Let’s see how`Reduce()`

works. First, let me show you how I combine these two functions to achieve the same result as when using`sum()`

:

`Reduce(`+`, seq(1, 100))`

`## [1] 5050`

We will see how `Reduce()`

works in greater detail in the next chapter, but what happened was something like this:

```
Reduce(`+`, seq(1, 100)) =
1 + Reduce(`+`, seq(2, 100)) =
1 + 2 + Reduce(`+`, seq(3, 100)) =
1 + 2 + 3 + Reduce(`+`, seq(4, 100)) =
....
```

If you ask yourself these questions, it turns out that you only rarely actually need to write loops, but loops are
still important, because sometimes there simply isn’t an alternative. Also, there are other situations where loops
are also important, so I refer you to the following section
of Hadley Wickham’s *Advanced R* for an in-depth discussion on situations where loops make more
sense than using functions such as `Reduce()`

.

### 7.1.3 While loops

While loops are very similar to for loops. The instructions inside a while loop are repeated while a certain condition holds true. Let’s consider the sum of the first 100 integers again:

```
<- 0
result <- 1
i while (i<=100){
= result + i
result = i + 1
i
}
print(result)
```

`## [1] 5050`

Here, we first set `result`

and `i`

to 0. Then, while `i`

is less than, or equal to 100, we add `i`

to `result`

. Notice that there is one more line than in the for loop version of this code: we need
to increment the value of `i`

at each iteration, if not, `i`

would stay equal to 1, and the
condition would always be fulfilled, and the loop would run forever (not really, only until your
computer runs out of memory, or until the heat death of the universe, whichever comes first).

Now that we know how to write loops, and know about `if...else...`

constructs, we have (almost) all
the ingredients to write our own functions.

## 7.2 Writing your own functions

As you have seen by now, R includes a very large amount of in-built functions, but also many more functions are available in packages. However, there will be a lot of situations where you will need to write your own. In this section we are going to learn how to write our own functions.

### 7.2.1 Declaring functions in R

Suppose you want to create the following function: \(f(x) = \dfrac{1}{\sqrt{x}}\). Writing this in R is quite simple:

```
<- function(x){
my_function 1/sqrt(x)
}
```

The argument of the function, `x`

, gets passed to the `function()`

function and the *body* of
the function (more on that in the next Chapter) contains the function definition. Of course,
you could define functions that use more than one input:

```
<- function(x, y){
my_function 1/sqrt(x + y)
}
```

or inputs with names longer than one character:

```
<- function(argument1, argument2){
my_function 1/sqrt(argument1 + argument2)
}
```

Functions written by the user get called just the same way as functions included in R:

`my_function(1, 10)`

`## [1] 0.3015113`

It is also possible to provide default values to the function’s arguments, which are values that are used if the user omits them:

```
<- function(argument1, argument2 = 10){
my_function 1/sqrt(argument1 + argument2)
}
```

`my_function(1)`

`## [1] 0.3015113`

This is especially useful for functions with many arguments. Consider also the following example, where the function has a default method:

```
<- function(argument1, argument2, method = "foo"){
my_function
<- argument1 + argument2
x
if(method == "foo"){
1/sqrt(x)
else if (method == "bar"){
} "this is a string"
}
}
my_function(10, 11)
```

`## [1] 0.2182179`

`my_function(10, 11, "bar")`

`## [1] "this is a string"`

As you see, depending on the “method” chosen, the returned result is either a numeric, or a string. What happens if the user provides a “method” that is neither “foo” nor “bar”?

`my_function(10, 11, "spam")`

As you can see nothing happens. It is possible to add safeguards to your function to avoid such situations:

```
<- function(argument1, argument2, method = "foo"){
my_function
if(!(method %in% c("foo", "bar"))){
return("Method must be either 'foo' or 'bar'")
}
<- argument1 + argument2
x
if(method == "foo"){
1/sqrt(x)
else if (method == "bar"){
} "this is a string"
}
}
my_function(10, 11)
```

`## [1] 0.2182179`

`my_function(10, 11, "bar")`

`## [1] "this is a string"`

`my_function(10, 11, "foobar")`

`## [1] "Method must be either 'foo' or 'bar'"`

Notice that I have used `return()`

inside my first `if`

statement. This is to immediately stop
evaluation of the function and return a value. If I had omitted it, evaluation would have
continued, as it is always the last expression that gets evaluated. Remove `return()`

and run the
function again, and see what happens. Later, we are going to learn how to add better safeguards to
your functions and to avoid runtime errors.

While in general, it is a good idea to add comments to your functions to explain what they do, I
would avoid adding comments to functions that do things that are very obvious, such as with this
one. Function names should be of the form: `function_name()`

. Always give your function very
explicit names! In mathematics it is standard to give functions just one letter as a name, but I
would advise against doing that in your code. Functions that you write are not special in any way;
this means that R will treat them the same way, and they will work in conjunction with any other
function just as if it was built-in into R.

They have one limitation though (which is shared with R’s native function): just like in math, they can only return one value. However, sometimes, you may need to return more than one value. To be able to do this, you must put your values in a list, and return the list of values. For example:

```
<- function(x){
average_and_sd c(mean(x), sd(x))
}
average_and_sd(c(1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12))
```

`## [1] 7.166667 4.262237`

You’re still returning a single object, but it’s a vector. You can also return a named list:

```
<- function(x){
average_and_sd list("mean_x" = mean(x), "sd_x" = sd(x))
}
average_and_sd(c(1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12))
```

```
## $mean_x
## [1] 7.166667
##
## $sd_x
## [1] 4.262237
```

As described before, you can use `return()`

at the end of your functions:

```
<- function(x){
average_and_sd <- c(mean(x), sd(x))
result return(result)
}
average_and_sd(c(1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12))
```

`## [1] 7.166667 4.262237`

But this is only needed if you need to return a value early:

```
<- function(x){
average_and_sd if(any(is.na(x))){
return(NA)
else {
} c(mean(x), sd(x))
}
}
average_and_sd(c(1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12))
```

`## [1] 7.166667 4.262237`

`average_and_sd(c(1, 3, NA, 9, 10, 12))`

`## [1] NA`

If you need to use a function from a package inside your function use `::`

:

```
<- function(a_vector){
my_sum ::reduce(a_vector, `+`)
purrr }
```

However, if you need to use more than one function, this can become tedious. A quick and dirty
way of doing that, is to use `library(package_name)`

, inside the function:

```
<- function(a_vector){
my_sum library(purrr)
reduce(a_vector, `+`)
}
```

Loading the library inside the function has the advantage that you will be sure that the package upon which your function depends will be loaded. If the package is already loaded, it will not be loaded again, thus not impact performance, but if you forgot to load it at the beginning of your script, then, no worries, your function will load it the first time you use it! However, you should avoid doing this, because the resulting function is now not pure. It has a side effect, which is loading a library. This could result in problems, especially if several functions load several different packages that have functions with the same name. Depending on which function runs first, a function with the same name but coming from the same package will be available in the global environment. The very best way would be to write your own package and declare the packages upon which your functions depend as dependencies. This is something we are going to explore in Chapter 9.

You can put a lot of instructions inside a function, such as loops. Let’s create the function that returns Fionacci numbers.

### 7.2.2 Fibonacci numbers

The Fibonacci sequence is the following:

\[1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ...\]

Each subsequent number is composed of the sum of the two preceding ones. In R, it is possible to define a function that returns the \(n^{th}\) fibonacci number:

```
<- function(n){
my_fibo <- 0
a <- 1
b for (i in 1:n){
<- b
temp <- a
b <- a + temp
a
}
a }
```

Inside the loop, we defined a variable called `temp`

. Defining temporary variables is usually very
useful. Let’s try to understand what happens inside this loop:

- First, we assign the value 0 to variable
`a`

and value 1 to variable`b`

. - We start a loop, that goes from 1 to
`n`

. - We assign the value inside of
`b`

to a temporary variable, called`temp`

. `b`

becomes`a`

.- We assign the sum of
`a`

and`temp`

to`a`

. - When the loop is finished, we return
`a`

.

What happens if we want the 3rd fibonacci number? At `n = 1`

we have first `a = 0`

and `b = 1`

,
then `temp = 1`

, `b = 0`

and `a = 0 + 1`

. Then `n = 2`

. Now `b = 0`

and `temp = 0`

. The previous
result, `a = 0 + 1`

is now assigned to `b`

, so `b = 1`

. Then, `a = 1 + 0`

. Finally, `n = 3`

. `temp = 1`

(because `b = 1`

), the previous result `a = 1`

is assigned to `b`

and finally, `a = 1 + 1`

. So
the third fibonacci number equals 2. Reading this might be a bit confusing; I strongly advise you
to run the algorithm on a sheet of paper, step by step.

The above algorithm is called an iterative algorithm, because it uses a loop to compute the result. Let’s look at another way to think about the problem, with a so-called recursive function:

```
<- function(n){
fibo_recur if (n == 0 || n == 1){
return(n)
else {
} fibo_recur(n-1) + fibo_recur(n-2)
} }
```

This algorithm should be easier to understand: if `n = 0`

or `n = 1`

the function should return `n`

(0 or 1). If `n`

is strictly bigger than `1`

, `fibo_recur()`

should return the sum of
`fibo_recur(n-1)`

and `fibo_recur(n-2)`

. This version of the function is very much the same as the
mathematical definition of the fibonacci sequence. So why not use only recursive algorithms
then? Try to run the following:

`system.time(my_fibo(30))`

```
## user system elapsed
## 0.007 0.000 0.007
```

The result should be printed very fast (the `system.time()`

function returns the time that it took
to execute `my_fibo(30)`

). Let’s try with the recursive version:

`system.time(fibo_recur(30))`

```
## user system elapsed
## 1.482 0.080 1.574
```

It takes much longer to execute! Recursive algorithms are very CPU demanding, so if speed is
critical, it’s best to avoid recursive algorithms. Also, in `fibo_recur()`

try to remove this line:
`if (n == 0 || n == 1)`

and try to run `fibo_recur(5)`

and see what happens. You should
get an error: this is because for recursive algorithms you need a stopping condition, or else,
it would run forever. This is not the case for iterative algorithms, because the stopping
condition is the last step of the loop.

So as you can see, for recursive relationships, for or while loops are the way to go in R, whether you’re writing these loops inside functions or not.

## 7.3 Exercises

### Exercise 1

In this exercise, you will write a function to compute the sum of the n first integers. Combine the algorithm we saw in section about while loops and what you learned about functions in this section.

## 7.4 Functions that take functions as arguments: writing your own higher-order functions

Functions that take functions as arguments are very powerful and useful tools.
Two very important functions, that we will discuss in chapter 8 are `purrr::map()`

and `purrr::reduce()`

. But you can also write your own! A very simple example
would be the following:

```
<- function(x, func){
my_func func(x)
}
```

`my_func()`

is a very simple function that takes `x`

and `func()`

as arguments and that simply
executes `func(x)`

. This might not seem very useful (after all, you could simply use `func(x)!`

) but
this is just for illustration purposes, in practice, your functions would be more useful than that!
Let’s try to use `my_func()`

:

`my_func(c(1, 8, 1, 0, 8), mean)`

`## [1] 3.6`

As expected, this returns the mean of the given vector. But now suppose the following:

`my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean)`

`## [1] NA`

Because one element of the list is `NA`

, the whole mean is `NA`

. `mean()`

has a `na.rm`

argument
that you can set to `TRUE`

to ignore the `NA`

s in the vector. However, here, there is no way to
provide this argument to the function `mean()`

! Let’s see what happens when we try to:

`my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean, na.rm = TRUE)`

```
Error in my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean, na.rm = TRUE) :
unused argument (na.rm = TRUE)
```

So what you could do is pass the value `TRUE`

to the `na.rm`

argument of `mean()`

from your own
function:

```
<- function(x, func, remove_na){
my_func func(x, na.rm = remove_na)
}
my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean, remove_na = TRUE)
```

`## [1] 4.5`

This is one solution, but `mean()`

also has another argument called `trim`

. What if some other
user needs this argument? Should you also add it to your function? Surely there’s a way to avoid
this problem? Yes, there is, and it by using the *dots*. The `...`

simply mean “any other
argument as needed”, and it’s very easy to use:

```
<- function(x, func, ...){
my_func func(x, ...)
}
my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean, na.rm = TRUE)
```

`## [1] 4.5`

or, now, if you need the `trim`

argument:

`my_func(c(1, 8, 1, NA, 8), mean, na.rm = TRUE, trim = 0.1)`

`## [1] 4.5`

The `...`

are very useful when writing higher-order functions such as `my_func()`

, because it allows
you to pass arguments *down* to the underlying functions.

## 7.5 Functions that return functions

The example from before, `my_func()`

took three arguments, some `x`

, a function `func`

, and `...`

(dots). `my_func()`

was a kind of wrapper that evaluated `func`

on its arguments `x`

and `...`

. But sometimes this is not quite what you
need or want. It is sometimes useful to write a function that returns a modified function. This type of function
is called a function factory, as it *builds* functions. For instance, suppose that we want to time how long functions
take to run. An idea would be to proceed like this:

```
<- Sys.time()
tic very_slow_function(x)
<- Sys.time()
toc
<- toc - tic running_time
```

but if you want to time several functions, this gets very tedious. It would be much easier if functions would
time *themselves*. We could achieve this by writing a wrapper, like this:

```
<- function(...){
timed_very_slow_function
<- Sys.time()
tic <- very_slow_function(x)
result <- Sys.time()
toc
<- toc - tic
running_time
list("result" = result,
"running_time" = running_time)
}
```

The problem here is that we have to change each function we need to time. But thanks to the concept of function factories, we can write a function that does this for us:

```
<- function(.f, ...){
time_f
function(...){
<- Sys.time()
tic <- .f(...)
result <- Sys.time()
toc
<- toc - tic
running_time
list("result" = result,
"running_time" = running_time)
} }
```

`time_f()`

is a function that returns a function, a function factory. Calling it on a function returns, as expected,
a function:

```
<- time_f(mean)
t_mean
t_mean
```

```
## function(...){
##
## tic <- Sys.time()
## result <- .f(...)
## toc <- Sys.time()
##
## running_time <- toc - tic
##
## list("result" = result,
## "running_time" = running_time)
##
## }
## <environment: 0x562c5699a6b8>
```

This function can now be used like any other function:

`<- t_mean(seq(-500000, 500000)) output `

`output`

is a list of two elements, the first being simply the result of `mean(seq(-500000, 500000))`

, and the other
being the running time.

This approach is super flexible. For instance, imagine that there is an `NA`

in the vector. This would result in
the mean of this vector being `NA`

:

`t_mean(c(NA, seq(-500000, 500000)))`

```
## $result
## [1] NA
##
## $running_time
## Time difference of 0.006885529 secs
```

But because we use the `...`

in the definition of `time_f()`

, we can now simply pass `mean()`

’s option down to it:

`t_mean(c(NA, seq(-500000, 500000)), na.rm = TRUE)`

```
## $result
## [1] 0
##
## $running_time
## Time difference of 0.01394773 secs
```

## 7.6 Functions that take columns of data as arguments

### 7.6.1 The `enquo() - !!()`

approach

In many situations, you will want to write functions that look similar to this:

`my_function(my_data, one_column_inside_data)`

Such a function would be useful in situation where you have to apply a certain number of operations to columns for different data frames. For example if you need to create tables of descriptive statistics or graphs periodically, it might be very interesting to put these operations inside a function and then call the function whenever you need it, on the fresh batch of data.

However, if you try to write something like that, something that might seem unexpected, at first, will happen:

```
data(mtcars)
<- function(dataset, col_name){
simple_function %>%
dataset group_by(col_name) %>%
summarise(mean_speed = mean(speed))
}
simple_function(cars, "dist")
```

`Error: unknown variable to group by : col_name`

The variable `col_name`

is passed to `simple_function()`

as a string, but `group_by()`

requires a
variable name. So why not try to convert `col_name`

to a name?

```
<- function(dataset, col_name){
simple_function <- as.name(col_name)
col_name %>%
dataset group_by(col_name) %>%
summarise(mean_speed = mean(speed))
}
simple_function(cars, "dist")
```

`Error: unknown variable to group by : col_name`

This is because R is literally looking for the variable `"dist"`

somewhere in the global
environment, and not as a column of the data. R does not understand that you are refering to the
column `"dist"`

that is inside the dataset. So how can we make R understands what you mean?

To be able to do that, we need to use a framework that was introduced in the `{tidyverse}`

,
called *tidy evaluation*. This framework can be used by installing the `{rlang}`

package.
`{rlang}`

is quite a technical package, so I will spare you the details. But you should at
the very least take a look at the following documents
here and
here. The
discussion can get complicated, but you don’t need to know everything about `{rlang}`

.
As you will see, knowing some of the capabilities `{rlang}`

provides can be incredibly useful.
Take a look at the code below:

```
<- function(dataset, col_name){
simple_function <- enquo(col_name)
col_name %>%
dataset group_by(!!col_name) %>%
summarise(mean_mpg = mean(mpg))
}
simple_function(mtcars, cyl)
```

```
## # A tibble: 3 × 2
## cyl mean_mpg
## <dbl> <dbl>
## 1 4 26.7
## 2 6 19.7
## 3 8 15.1
```

As you can see, the previous idea we had, which was using `as.name()`

was not very far away from
the solution. The solution, with `{rlang}`

, consists in using `enquo()`

, which (for our purposes),
does something similar to `as.name()`

. Now that `col_name`

is (R programmers call it) quoted, or
*defused*, we need to tell `group_by()`

to evaluate the input as is. This is done with `!!()`

,
called the injection operator, which
is another `{rlang}`

function. I say it again; don’t worry if you don’t understand everything. Just
remember to use `enquo()`

on your column names and then `!!()`

inside the `{dplyr}`

function you
want to use.

Let’s see some other examples:

```
<- function(dataset, col_name, value){
simple_function <- enquo(col_name)
col_name %>%
dataset filter((!!col_name) == value) %>%
summarise(mean_cyl = mean(cyl))
}
simple_function(mtcars, am, 1)
```

```
## mean_cyl
## 1 5.076923
```

Notice that I’ve written:

`filter((!!col_name) == value)`

and not:

`filter(!!col_name == value)`

I have enclosed `!!col_name`

inside parentheses. This is because operators such as `==`

have
precedence over `!!`

, so you have to be explicit. Also, notice that I didn’t have to quote `1`

.
This is because it’s *standard* variable, not a column inside the dataset. Let’s make this function
a bit more general. I hard-coded the variable cyl inside the body of the function, but maybe you’d
like the mean of another variable?

```
<- function(dataset, filter_col, mean_col, value){
simple_function <- enquo(filter_col)
filter_col <- enquo(mean_col)
mean_col %>%
dataset filter((!!filter_col) == value) %>%
summarise(mean((!!mean_col)))
}
simple_function(mtcars, am, cyl, 1)
```

```
## mean(cyl)
## 1 5.076923
```

Notice that I had to quote `mean_col`

too.

Using the `...`

that we discovered in the previous section, we can pass more than one column:

```
<- function(dataset, ...){
simple_function <- quos(...)
col_vars %>%
dataset summarise_at(vars(!!!col_vars), funs(mean, sd))
}
```

Because these *dots* contain more than one variable, you have to use `quos()`

instead of `enquo()`

.
This will put the arguments provided via the dots in a list. Then, because we have a list of
columns, we have to use `summarise_at()`

, which you should know if you did the exercices of
Chapter 4. So if you didn’t do them, go back to them and finish them first. Doing the exercise will
also teach you what `vars()`

and `funs()`

are. The last thing you have to pay attention to is to
use `!!!()`

if you used `quos()`

. So 3 `!`

instead of only 2. This allows you to then do things
like this:

`simple_function(mtcars, am, cyl, mpg)`

```
## Warning: `funs()` was deprecated in dplyr 0.8.0.
## Please use a list of either functions or lambdas:
##
## # Simple named list:
## list(mean = mean, median = median)
##
## # Auto named with `tibble::lst()`:
## tibble::lst(mean, median)
##
## # Using lambdas
## list(~ mean(., trim = .2), ~ median(., na.rm = TRUE))
```

```
## am_mean cyl_mean mpg_mean am_sd cyl_sd mpg_sd
## 1 0.40625 6.1875 20.09062 0.4989909 1.785922 6.026948
```

Using `...`

with `!!!()`

allows you to write very flexible functions.

If you need to be even more general, you can also provide the summary functions as arguments of your function, but you have to rewrite your function a little bit:

```
<- function(dataset, cols, funcs){
simple_function %>%
dataset summarise_at(vars(!!!cols), funs(!!!funcs))
}
```

You might be wondering where the `quos()`

went? Well because now we are passing two lists, a list of
columns that we have to quote, and a list of functions, that we also have to quote, we need to use `quos()`

when calling the function:

`simple_function(mtcars, quos(am, cyl, mpg), quos(mean, sd, sum))`

```
## am_mean cyl_mean mpg_mean am_sd cyl_sd mpg_sd am_sum cyl_sum mpg_sum
## 1 0.40625 6.1875 20.09062 0.4989909 1.785922 6.026948 13 198 642.9
```

This works, but I don’t think you’ll need to have that much flexibility; either the columns are variables, or the functions, but rarely both at the same time.

To conclude this function, I should also talk about `as_label()`

which allows you to change the
name of a variable, for instance if you want to call the resulting column `mean_mpg`

when you
compute the mean of the `mpg`

column:

```
<- function(dataset, filter_col, mean_col, value){
simple_function
<- enquo(filter_col)
filter_col <- enquo(mean_col)
mean_col <- paste0("mean_", as_label(mean_col))
mean_name
%>%
dataset filter((!!filter_col) == value) %>%
summarise(!!(mean_name) := mean((!!mean_col)))
}
```

Pay attention to the `:=`

operator in the last line. This is needed when using `as_label()`

.

### 7.6.2 Curly Curly, a simplified approach to `enquo()`

and `!!()`

The previous section might have been a bit difficult to grasp, but there is a simplified way of doing it,
which consists in using `{{}}`

, introduced in `{rlang}`

version 0.4.0.
The suggested pronunciation of `{{}}`

is *curly-curly*, but there is no
consensus yet.

Let’s suppose that I need to write a function that takes a data frame, as well as a column from this data frame as arguments, just like before:

```
<- function(dataframe, column_name){
how_many_na %>%
dataframe filter(is.na(column_name)) %>%
count()
}
```

Let’s try this function out on the `starwars`

data:

```
data(starwars)
head(starwars)
```

```
## # A tibble: 6 × 14
## name height mass hair_…¹ skin_…² eye_c…³ birth…⁴ sex gender homew…⁵
## <chr> <int> <dbl> <chr> <chr> <chr> <dbl> <chr> <chr> <chr>
## 1 Luke Skywal… 172 77 blond fair blue 19 male mascu… Tatooi…
## 2 C-3PO 167 75 <NA> gold yellow 112 none mascu… Tatooi…
## 3 R2-D2 96 32 <NA> white,… red 33 none mascu… Naboo
## 4 Darth Vader 202 136 none white yellow 41.9 male mascu… Tatooi…
## 5 Leia Organa 150 49 brown light brown 19 fema… femin… Aldera…
## 6 Owen Lars 178 120 brown,… light blue 52 male mascu… Tatooi…
## # … with 4 more variables: species <chr>, films <list>, vehicles <list>,
## # starships <list>, and abbreviated variable names ¹hair_color, ²skin_color,
## # ³eye_color, ⁴birth_year, ⁵homeworld
```

As you can see, there are missing values in the `hair_color`

column. Let’s try to count how many
missing values are in this column:

`how_many_na(starwars, hair_color)`

`Error: object 'hair_color' not found`

Just as expected, this does not work. The issue is that the column is inside the dataframe,
but when calling the function with `hair_color`

as the second argument, R is looking for a
variable called `hair_color`

that does not exist. What about trying with `"hair_color"`

?

`how_many_na(starwars, "hair_color")`

```
## # A tibble: 1 × 1
## n
## <int>
## 1 0
```

Now we get something, but something wrong!

One way to solve this issue, is to not use the `filter()`

function, and instead rely on base R:

```
<- function(dataframe, column_name){
how_many_na_base <- is.na(dataframe[, column_name])
na_index nrow(dataframe[na_index, column_name])
}
how_many_na_base(starwars, "hair_color")
```

`## [1] 5`

This works, but not using the `{tidyverse}`

at all is not always an option. For instance,
the next function, which uses a grouping variable, would be difficult to implement without the
`{tidyverse}`

:

```
<- function(dataframe, grouping_var, column_name){
summarise_groups %>%
dataframe group_by(grouping_var) %>%
summarise(mean(column_name, na.rm = TRUE))
}
```

Calling this function results in the following error message, as expected:

`Error: Column `grouping_var` is unknown`

In the previous section, we solved the issue like so:

```
<- function(dataframe, grouping_var, column_name){
summarise_groups
<- enquo(grouping_var)
grouping_var <- enquo(column_name)
column_name <- paste0("mean_", as_label(column_name))
mean_name
%>%
dataframe group_by(!!grouping_var) %>%
summarise(!!(mean_name) := mean(!!column_name, na.rm = TRUE))
}
```

The core of the function remained very similar to the version from before, but now one has to
use the `enquo()`

-`!!`

syntax.

Now this can be simplified using the new `{{}}`

syntax:

```
<- function(dataframe, grouping_var, column_name){
summarise_groups
%>%
dataframe group_by({{grouping_var}}) %>%
summarise({{column_name}} := mean({{column_name}}, na.rm = TRUE))
}
```

Much easier and cleaner! You still have to use the `:=`

operator instead of `=`

for the column name
however, and if you want to modify the column names, for instance in this
case return `"mean_height"`

instead of `height`

you have to keep using the `enquo()`

-`!!`

syntax.

## 7.7 Functions that use loops

It is entirely possible to put a loop inside a function. For example, consider the following function that return the square root of a number using Newton’s algorithm:

```
<- function(a, init = 1, eps = 0.01){
sqrt_newton stopifnot(a >= 0)
while(abs(init**2 - a) > eps){
<- 1/2 *(init + a/init)
init
}
init }
```

This functions contains a while loop inside its body. Let’s see if it works:

`sqrt_newton(16)`

`## [1] 4.000001`

In the definition of the function, I wrote `init = 1`

and `eps = 0.01`

which means that this
argument can be omitted and will have the provided value (0.01) as the default. You can then use
this function as any other, for example with `map()`

:

`map(c(16, 7, 8, 9, 12), sqrt_newton)`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 4.000001
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 2.645767
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 2.828469
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 3.000092
##
## [[5]]
## [1] 3.464616
```

This is what I meant before with “your functions are nothing special”. Once the function is defined, you can use it like any other base R function.

Notice the use of `stopifnot()`

inside the body of the function. This is a way to return an error
in case a condition is not fulfilled. We are going to learn more about this type of functions
in the next chapter.

## 7.8 Anonymous functions

As the name implies, anonymous functions are functions that do not have a name. These are useful inside
functions that have functions as arguments, such as `purrr::map()`

or `purrr::reduce()`

:

`map(c(1,2,3,4), function(x){1/sqrt(x)})`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 1
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 0.7071068
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 0.5773503
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 0.5
```

These anonymous functions get defined in a very similar way to regular functions, you just skip the
name and that’s it. `{tidyverse}`

functions also support formulas; these get converted to anonymous functions:

`map(c(1,2,3,4), ~{1/sqrt(.)})`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 1
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 0.7071068
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 0.5773503
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 0.5
```

Using a formula instead of an anonymous function is less verbose; you use `~`

instead of `function(x)`

and a single dot `.`

instead of `x`

. What if you need an anonymous function that requires more than
one argument? This is not a problem:

`map2(c(1, 2, 3, 4, 5), c(9, 8, 7, 6, 5), function(x, y){(x**2)/y})`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 0.1111111
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 0.5
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 1.285714
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 2.666667
##
## [[5]]
## [1] 5
```

or, using a formula:

`map2(c(1, 2, 3, 4, 5), c(9, 8, 7, 6, 5), ~{(.x**2)/.y})`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 0.1111111
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 0.5
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 1.285714
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 2.666667
##
## [[5]]
## [1] 5
```

Because you have now two arguments, a single dot could not work, so instead you use `.x`

and `.y`

to
avoid confusion.

Since version 4.1, R introduced a short-hand for defining anonymous functions:

`map(c(1,2,3,4), \(x)(1/sqrt(x)))`

```
## [[1]]
## [1] 1
##
## [[2]]
## [1] 0.7071068
##
## [[3]]
## [1] 0.5773503
##
## [[4]]
## [1] 0.5
```

`\(x)`

is supposed to look like this notation: \(\lambda(x)\). This is a notation comes from lambda calculus, where functions
are defined like this:

\[ \lambda(x).1/sqrt(x) \]

which is equivalent to \(f(x) = 1/sqrt(x)\). You can use `\(x)`

or `function(x)`

interchangeably.

You now know a lot about writing your own functions. In the next chapter, we are going to learn about functional programming, the programming paradigm I described in the introduction of this book.

## 7.9 Exercises

### Exercise 1

- Create the following vector:

\[a = (1,6,7,8,8,9,2)\]

Using a for loop and a while loop, compute the sum of its elements. To avoid issues, use `i`

as the counter inside the for loop, and `j`

as the counter for the while loop.

- How would you achieve that with a functional (a function that takes a function as an argument)?

### Exercise 2

- Let’s use a loop to get the matrix product of a matrix A and B. Follow these steps to create the loop:

- Create matrix A:

\[A = \left( \begin{array}{ccc} 9 & 4 & 12 \\ 5 & 0 & 7 \\ 2 & 6 & 8 \\ 9 & 2 & 9 \end{array} \right) \]

- Create matrix B:

\[B = \left( \begin{array}{cccc} 5 & 4 & 2 & 5 \\ 2 & 7 & 2 & 1 \\ 8 & 3 & 2 & 6 \\ \end{array} \right) \]

Create a matrix C, with dimension 4x4 that will hold the result. Use this command: `C = matrix(rep(0,16), nrow = 4)}

Using a for loop, loop over the rows of A first: `for(i in 1:nrow(A))}

Inside this loop, loop over the columns of B: `for(j in 1:ncol(B))}

Again, inside this loop, loop over the rows of B: `for(k in 1:nrow(B))}

Inside this last loop, compute the result and save it inside C: `C[i,j] = C[i,j] + A[i,k] * B[k,j]}

Now write a function that takes two matrices as arguments, and returns their product.

- R has a built-in function to compute the dot product of 2 matrices. Which is it?