Purrr – mapping pmap functions to data

In functional programming paradigm, map is used to map a set of values to another set of values based on the function used.



In general sense, a unit of function should only be used to map one value to another. While this utility can be applied to a list of inputs to produce another set of input using map function.  It takes two inputs

  • Function
  • Sequence of values

It produces new sequence of values where the function has been applied.

which prints

Note that the above is only used for one input. For two input values you can use map2.

Now for situations where you need to use multiple input values(say multiple lists) to apply to a function, you can use pmap

An important point- Length of x and y should be same.

which produces


What’s the difference to map and map2?

Both map and map2 take vector arguments directly like x = and y = , while pmap takes a list of arguments like list(x = , y = ).

Exploring purrr furthur, I see new use cases which I will explain in next posts.


purrrr is a productivity ninza. Try to  use it.

Think Functional!

Functional Programming in R – what is Lazy evaluation?

Under Lazy evaluation, evaluation of function argument is delayed until necessary. This differs to strict evaluation where the arguments of a function are evaluated before the function is called.

Let’s see an example-

In the first function call, “I am evaluated” is not printed as it is not required to be evaluated. This is also called call-by-promise.

It could be useful when you have parameters which need to be evaluated when only certain conditions are met.

Another example-

Here b is not evaluated until the execution reaches the expression a + b.

Moreover, The expressions you give to function calls are evaluated in the scope outside the function.

Hence the below will give error as it remains unknown when b = a is evaluated as it looks for the value of ain the global scope(outside function f)





R: Column Summarisation using tidy verse and purrr- towards Functional Programming.

I was working on column summarization(mean, median, standard deviation, etc) and found out better ways to select and summarise the data.

Let’s start

Let’s take Iris data.

Screenshot 2017-07-17 17.27.53

A usual way to summarise(that I used) is this:

This code has the following issues:

  • The functions mean and sd are repeated.
  • I need to write the column name specifically.

To resolve this I started exploring more and found a better way to select columns and perform column wise summaries.

On selecting:

Let’s say I want to select the first three columns. I would do like this:

This will select the columns starting from Sepal.Length to Petal.Length.

You can use regex patterns as well. Like in the example below, If I just need to get the summaries of columns that start with “Sepal”-

This will select the only Sepal.Length and Sepal.Width columns.

You can also use many helper functions with select and hence utilise many ways to select based on the name, position.

 Summarising the data:

You can directly use a function called summarized_at

The result is all mean and sd of all the columns that start with Sepal.

As you can see we have calculated the summaries without repeating the function names. In a way, we are applying functions to data, and not the opposite.

There are scenarios when the result of a function is multiple values. e.g. when we use quantile to get multiple values.

Let’s see an example-

How can perform the summarization, similar to the previous examples?

Map which is a function in the functional programming toolkit purrr. comes handy here. The only difference is that we have to use bind_rows.

This results in quantiles for the two columns that start with “Sepal”.

Summarise columns with specific properties.

Suppose you want to summarise all the columns which are numeric. You can achieve this using summarize_if.

This results in summaries for all numeric columns.



For all the data, you can also do the grouping as well


Next Steps

I will be sharing more on applying Functional Programming principles with R.

R is a Functional Programming Language

A write-up by Hadley Wickham shows the aspects of Functional Programming in R. It’s a great article for understanding both R and using functions as the core of operations in R. Three building blocks are explained:

 1. Anonymous functions

 2. Closures (functions written by functions)

 3. Lists of functions.