describe  R Documentation 
describe
is a generic method that invokes describe.data.frame
,
describe.matrix
, describe.vector
, or
describe.formula
. describe.vector
is the basic
function for handling a single variable.
This function determines whether the variable is character, factor,
category, binary, discrete numeric, and continuous numeric, and prints
a concise statistical summary according to each. A numeric variable is
deemed discrete if it has <= 10 distinct values. In this case,
quantiles are not printed. A frequency table is printed
for any nonbinary variable if it has no more than 20 distinct
values. For any variable for which the frequency table is not printed,
the 5 lowest and highest values are printed. This behavior can be
overriden for long character variables with many levels using the
listunique
parameter, to get a complete tabulation.
describe
is especially useful for
describing data frames created by *.get
, as labels, formats,
value labels, and (in the case of sas.get
) frequencies of special
missing values are printed.
For a binary variable, the sum (number of 1's) and mean (proportion of
1's) are printed. If the first argument is a formula, a model frame
is created and passed to describe.data.frame. If a variable
is of class "impute"
, a count of the number of imputed values is
printed. If a date variable has an attribute partial.date
(this is set up by sas.get
), counts of how many partial dates are
actually present (missing month, missing day, missing both) are also presented.
If a variable was created by the specialpurpose function substi
(which
substitutes values of a second variable if the first variable is NA),
the frequency table of substitutions is also printed.
For numeric variables, describe
adds an item called Info
which is a relative information measure using the relative efficiency of
a proportional odds/Wilcoxon test on the variable relative to the same
test on a variable that has no ties. Info
is related to how
continuous the variable is, and ties are less harmful the more untied
values there are. The formula for Info
is one minus the sum of
the cubes of relative frequencies of values divided by one minus the
square of the reciprocal of the sample size. The lowest information
comes from a variable having only one distinct value following by a
highly skewed binary variable. Info
is reported to
two decimal places.
A latex method exists for converting the describe
object to a
LaTeX file. For numeric variables having more than 20 distinct values,
describe
saves in its returned object the frequencies of 100
evenly spaced bins running from minimum observed value to the maximum.
When there are less than or equal to 20 distinct values, the original
values are maintained.
latex
and html
insert a spike histogram displaying these
frequency counts in the tabular material using the LaTeX picture
environment. For example output see
https://hbiostat.org/doc/rms/book/chapter7edition1.pdf.
Note that the latex method assumes you have the following styles
installed in your latex installation: setspace and relsize.
The html
method mimics the LaTeX output. This is useful in the
context of Quarto/Rmarkdown html and html notebook output.
If options(prType='html')
is in effect, calling print
on
an object that is the result of running describe
on a data frame
will result in rendering the HTML version. If run from the console a
browser window will open. When which
is specified to
print
, whether or not prType='html'
is in effect, a
gt
package html table will be produced containing only
the types of variables requested. When which='both'
a list with
element names Continuous
and Categorical
is produced,
making it convenient for the user to print as desired, or to pass the
list directed to the qreport
maketabs
function when using Quarto.
The plot
method is for describe
objects run on data
frames. It produces spike histograms for a graphic of
continuous variables and a dot chart for categorical variables, showing
category proportions. The graphic format is ggplot2
if the user
has not set options(grType='plotly')
or has set the grType
option to something other than 'plotly'
. Otherwise plotly
graphics that are interactive are produced, and these can be placed into
an Rmarkdown html notebook. The user must install the plotly
package for this to work. When the use hovers the mouse over a bin for
a raw data value, the actual value will popup (formatted using
digits
). When the user hovers over the minimum data value, most
of the information calculated by describe
will pop up. For each
variable, the number of missing values is used to assign the color to
the histogram or dot chart, and a legend is drawn. Color is not used if
there are no missing values in any variable. For categorical variables,
hovering over the leftmost point for a variable displays details, and
for all points proportions, numerators, and denominators are displayed
in the popup. If both continuous and categorical variables are present
and which='both'
is specified, the plot
method returns an
unclassed list
containing two objects, named 'Categorical'
and 'Continuous'
, in that order.
Sample weights may be specified to any of the functions, resulting in weighted means, quantiles, and frequency tables.
Note: As discussed in Cox and Longton (2008), Stata Technical Bulletin 8(4) pp. 557, the term "unique" has been replaced with "distinct" in the output (but not in parameter names).
When weights
are not used, Gini's mean difference is computed for
numeric variables. This is a robust measure of dispersion that is the
mean absolute difference between any pairs of observations. In simple
output Gini's difference is labeled Gmd
.
formatdescribeSingle
is a service function for latex
,
html
, and print
methods for single variables that is not
intended to be called by the user.
## S3 method for class 'vector'
describe(x, descript, exclude.missing=TRUE, digits=4,
listunique=0, listnchar=12,
weights=NULL, normwt=FALSE, minlength=NULL, shortmChoice=TRUE,
rmhtml=FALSE, trans=NULL, lumptails=0.01, ...)
## S3 method for class 'matrix'
describe(x, descript, exclude.missing=TRUE, digits=4, ...)
## S3 method for class 'data.frame'
describe(x, descript, exclude.missing=TRUE,
digits=4, trans=NULL, ...)
## S3 method for class 'formula'
describe(x, descript, data, subset, na.action,
digits=4, weights, ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe'
print(x, which = c('both', 'categorical', 'continuous'), ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe'
latex(object, title=NULL,
file=paste('describe',first.word(expr=attr(object,'descript')),'tex',sep='.'),
append=FALSE, size='small', tabular=TRUE, greek=TRUE,
spacing=0.7, lspace=c(0,0), ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe.single'
latex(object, title=NULL, vname,
file, append=FALSE, size='small', tabular=TRUE, greek=TRUE,
lspace=c(0,0), ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe'
html(object, size=85, tabular=TRUE,
greek=TRUE, scroll=FALSE, rows=25, cols=100, ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe.single'
html(object, size=85,
tabular=TRUE, greek=TRUE, ...)
formatdescribeSingle(x, condense=c('extremes', 'frequencies', 'both', 'none'),
lang=c('plain', 'latex', 'html'), verb=0, lspace=c(0, 0),
size=85, ...)
## S3 method for class 'describe'
plot(x, which=c('both', 'continuous', 'categorical'),
what=NULL,
sort=c('ascending', 'descending', 'none'),
n.unique=10, digits=5, bvspace=2, ...)
x 
a data frame, matrix, vector, or formula. For a data frame, the

descript 
optional title to print for x. The default is the name of the argument
or the "label" attributes of individual variables. When the first argument
is a formula, 
exclude.missing 
set toTRUE to print the names of variables that contain only missing values. This list appears at the bottom of the printout, and no space is taken up for such variables in the main listing. 
digits 
number of significant digits to print. For 
listunique 
For a character variable that is not an 
listnchar 
see 
weights 
a numeric vector of frequencies or sample weights. Each observation
will be treated as if it were sampled 
minlength 
value passed to summary.mChoice 
shortmChoice 
set to 
rmhtml 
set to 
trans 
for 
lumptails 
specifies the quantile to use (its complement is also used) for grouping observations in the tails so that outliers have less chance of distorting the variable's range for sparkline spike histograms. The default is 0.01, i.e., observations below the 0.01 quantile are grouped together in the leftmost bin, and observations above the 0.99 quantile are grouped to form the last bin. 
normwt 
The default, 
object 
a result of 
title 
unused 
data 
a data frame, data table, or list 
subset 
a subsetting expression 
na.action 
These are used if a formula is specified. 
... 
arguments passed to 
file 
name of output file (should have a suffix of .tex). Default name is
formed from the first word of the 
append 
set to 
size 
LaTeX text size ( 
tabular 
set to 
greek 
By default, the 
spacing 
By default, the 
lspace 
extra vertical scape, in character size units (i.e., "ex"
as appended to the space). When using certain font sizes, there is
too much space left around LaTeX verbatim environments. This
twovector specifies space to remove (i.e., the values are negated in
forming the 
scroll 
set to 
rows , cols 
the number of rows or columns to allocate for the scrollable box 
vname 
unused argument in 
which 
specifies whether to plot numeric continuous or
binary/categorical variables, or both. When 
what 
character or numeric vector specifying which variables to plot; default is to plot all 
sort 
specifies how and whether variables are sorted in order of
the proportion of positives when 
n.unique 
the minimum number of distinct values a numeric variable
must have before 
bvspace 
the betweenvariable spacing for categorical variables. Defaults to 2, meaning twice the amount of vertical space as what is used for betweencategory spacing within a variable 
condense 
specifies whether to condense the output with regard to
the 5 lowest and highest values ( 
lang 
specifies the markup language 
verb 
set to 1 if a verbatim environment is already in effect for LaTeX 
If options(na.detail.response=TRUE)
has been set and na.action
is "na.delete"
or
"na.keep"
, summary statistics on
the response variable are printed separately for missing and nonmissing
values of each predictor. The default summary function returns
the number of nonmissing response values and the mean of the last
column of the response values, with a names
attribute of
c("N","Mean")
.
When the response is a Surv
object and the mean is used, this will
result in the crude proportion of events being used to summarize
the response. The actual summary function can be designated through
options(na.fun.response = "function name")
.
If you are modifying LaTex parskip
or certain other parameters,
you may need to shrink the area around tabular
and
verbatim
environments produced by latex.describe
. You can
do this using for example
\usepackage{etoolbox}\makeatletter\preto{\@verbatim}{\topsep=1.4pt
\partopsep=0pt}\preto{\@tabular}{\parskip=2pt
\parsep=0pt}\makeatother
in the LaTeX preamble.
a list containing elements descript
, counts
,
values
. The list is of class describe
. If the input
object was a matrix or a data
frame, the list is a list of lists, one list for each variable
analyzed. latex
returns a standard latex
object. For numeric
variables having at least 20 distinct values, an additional component
intervalFreq
. This component is a list with two elements, range
(containing two values) and count
, a vector of 100 integer frequency
counts. print
with which=
returns a 'gt' table object.
The user can modify the table by piping formatting changes, column
removals, and other operations, before final rendering.
Frank Harrell
Vanderbilt University
fh@fharrell.com
spikecomp
, sas.get
, quantile
,
GiniMd
,
table
, summary
,
model.frame.default
,
naprint
, lapply
, tapply
,
Surv
, na.delete
,
na.keep
,
na.detail.response
, latex
set.seed(1)
describe(runif(200),dig=2) #single variable, continuous
#get quantiles .05,.10,\dots
dfr < data.frame(x=rnorm(400),y=sample(c('male','female'),400,TRUE))
describe(dfr)
## Not run:
options(grType='plotly')
d < describe(mydata)
p < plot(d) # create plots for both types of variables
p[[1]]; p[[2]] # or p$Categorical; p$Continuous
plotly::subplot(p[[1]], p[[2]], nrows=2) # plot both in one
plot(d, which='categorical') # categorical ones
d < sas.get(".","mydata",special.miss=TRUE,recode=TRUE)
describe(d) #describe entire data frame
attach(d, 1)
describe(relig) #Has special missing values .D .F .M .R .T
#attr(relig,"label") is "Religious preference"
#relig : Religious preference Format:relig
# n missing D F M R T distinct
# 4038 263 45 33 7 2 1 8
#
#0:none (251, 6%), 1:Jewish (372, 9%), 2:Catholic (1230, 30%)
#3:Jehovah's Witnes (25, 1%), 4:Christ Scientist (7, 0%)
#5:Seventh Day Adv (17, 0%), 6:Protestant (2025, 50%), 7:other (111, 3%)
# Method for describing part of a data frame:
describe(death.time ~ age*sex + rcs(blood.pressure))
describe(~ age+sex)
describe(~ age+sex, weights=freqs) # weighted analysis
fit < lrm(y ~ age*sex + log(height))
describe(formula(fit))
describe(y ~ age*sex, na.action=na.delete)
# report on number deleted for each variable
options(na.detail.response=TRUE)
# keep missings separately for each x, report on dist of y by x=NA
describe(y ~ age*sex)
options(na.fun.response="quantile")
describe(y ~ age*sex) # same but use quantiles of y by x=NA
d < describe(my.data.frame)
d$age # print description for just age
d[c('age','sex')] # print description for two variables
d[sort(names(d))] # print in alphabetic order by var. names
d2 < d[20:30] # keep variables 2030
page(d2) # popup window for these variables
# Test date/time formats and suppression of times when they don't vary
library(chron)
d < data.frame(a=chron((1:20)+.1),
b=chron((1:20)+(1:20)/100),
d=ISOdatetime(year=rep(2003,20),month=rep(4,20),day=1:20,
hour=rep(11,20),min=rep(17,20),sec=rep(11,20)),
f=ISOdatetime(year=rep(2003,20),month=rep(4,20),day=1:20,
hour=1:20,min=1:20,sec=1:20),
g=ISOdate(year=2001:2020,month=rep(3,20),day=1:20))
describe(d)
# Make a function to run describe, latex.describe, and use the kdvi
# previewer in Linux to view the result and easily make a pdf file
ldesc < function(data) {
options(xdvicmd='kdvi')
d < describe(data, desc=deparse(substitute(data)))
dvi(latex(d, file='/tmp/z.tex'), nomargins=FALSE, width=8.5, height=11)
}
ldesc(d)
## End(Not run)
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