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R Programming : Infix Operator

Tutorial by:Maria Ghoste      Date: 2016-06-10 00:36:29

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Most of the operators that we use in R are binary operators (having two operands). Hence, they are infix operators, used between the operands. Actually, these operators do a function call in the background. For example, the expression a+b is actually calling the function `+`() with the arguments a and b, as `+`(a, b). Note the back tick (`), this is important as the function name contains special symbols. Following are some example expressions along with the actual functions that get called in the background.

> 5+3
[1] 8
> `+`(5,3)
[1] 8

> 5-3
[1] 2
> `-`(5,3)
[1] 2

> 5*3-1
[1] 14
> `-`(`*`(5,3),1)
[1] 14

It is possible to create user-defined infix operators in R. This is done by naming a function that starts and ends with %. Following is an example of user-defined infix operator to see if a number is exactly divisible by another.

`%divisible%` <- function(x,y)
{
   if (x%%y ==0) return (TRUE)
   else          return (FALSE)
}

 

 
 

This function can be used as infix operator a %divisible% b or as a function call `%divisible%`(a, b). Both are the same.

> 10 %divisible% 3
[1] FALSE

> 10 %divisible% 2
[1] TRUE

> `%divisible%`(10,5)
[1] TRUE

Things to remember while defining your own infix operators are that they must start and end with %. Surround it with back tick (`) in the function definition and escape any special symbols. Following operators are predefined in R.

Predefined infix operators in R
%% Remainder operator
%/% Integer division
%*% Matrix multiplication
%o% Outer product
%x% Kronecker product
%in% Matching operator

 

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