Loops in R

Ha Khanh Nguyen

for Loops

How for loop works

  • A for loop repeats a chunk of code many times, once for each element in a set of input.
  • The that object should be a set of objects (often a vector of numbers or character strings).
    • 1:10
    • 1:length(x)
    • 1:nrow(x)
    • c("hello", "this", "is", "a", "vector", "of", "strings")
## [1] "one run"
## [1] "one run"
## [1] "one run"
## [1] "one run"
  • The value symbol in a for loop acts like an argument in a function.
  • The for loop will create an object named value and assign it a new value on each run of the loop.
  • The code in your loop can access this value by calling the value object.
## [1] "My"
## [1] "second"
## [1] "for"
## [1] "loop"
  • Example: What will be the value of a after the loop?

Exercise 1

  • Task: Write a for loop to compute the sum of 5 numbers that are randomly selected from 1 to 100 with replacement.

  • First, let’s generate the 5 random numbers!

## [1]  6 90 87 82 16
  • Second, write the for loop.
  • BUT wait! We need something to store the sum.
## [1] 281
  • Another way to write the for loop.
## [1] 281
  • Checking the result using R built-in function:
## [1] 281

Working with for loop

  • To save output from a for loop, you must write the loop so that it saves its own output as it runs.
  • What that means:
    • Create an empty vector or list before you run the loop.
    • Use the for loop to fill up the vector or list.
    • When the for loop is finished, you’ll be able to access the vector or list, which will now have all of your results.

Exercise 2

  • From a given list of fruits, select only the ones that have 6 or fewer letters.
  • Create an empty vector to store the final results
  • Write the for loop
##  [1] "apple"  "FALSE"  "FALSE"  "orange" "peach"  "plum"   "FALSE"  "banana"
##  [9] "kiwi"   "papaya" "grapes" "FALSE"  "FALSE"  "FALSE"
  • This is not what we want! So let’s try something else!
## [1] "apple"  "orange" "peach"  "plum"   "banana" "kiwi"   "papaya" "grapes"
  • The result looks good! But is it sufficient? We will answer that question on Friday.

while Loops

How while loop works

  • A while loop reruns a chunk while a certain condition remains TRUE.
  • while will rerun condition (a logical test) at the start of each loop:
    • If condition evaluates to TRUE, while will run the code between its braces.
    • If condition evaluates to FALSE, while will finish the loop.
  • Why might condition change from TRUE to FALSE?
    • The code inside the loop changes the certain values which change the result of condition. (We will look at an example next)
  • If the code has no relationship to the condition, a while loop will run until you stop it.
    • Called infinite loop.
  • Example:
## [1] 20
  • Another example: Remember the game King of Hearts from Lab02? It costs $1 to play this game each time. If we win a jackpot, we gain $10. Let’s say we start with $20! How long can we play until we run out of money?
## [1] 40

repeat Loops

  • The repeat loops repeat a chunk of code until you tell them to stop (by hitting Escape) or until they encounter the command break, which will stop the loop.

  • We can use a repeat loop to recreata a loop for the example above.

## [1] 40