merge: Merge two data.tables

mergeR Documentation

Merge two data.tables


Fast merge of two data.tables. The data.table method behaves similarly to data.frame except that row order is specified, and by default the columns to merge on are chosen:

  • at first based on the shared key columns, and if there are none,

  • then based on key columns of the first argument x, and if there are none,

  • then based on the common columns between the two data.tables.

Use the by, by.x and by.y arguments explicitly to override this default.


## S3 method for class 'data.table'
merge(x, y, by = NULL, by.x = NULL, by.y = NULL, all = FALSE,
all.x = all, all.y = all, sort = TRUE, suffixes = c(".x", ".y"), no.dups = TRUE,
allow.cartesian=getOption("datatable.allow.cartesian"),  # default FALSE
incomparables = NULL, ...)


x, y

data tables. y is coerced to a data.table if it isn't one already.


A vector of shared column names in x and y to merge on. This defaults to the shared key columns between the two tables. If y has no key columns, this defaults to the key of x.

by.x, by.y

Vectors of column names in x and y to merge on.


logical; all = TRUE is shorthand to save setting both all.x = TRUE and all.y = TRUE.


logical; if TRUE, rows from x which have no matching row in y are included. These rows will have 'NA's in the columns that are usually filled with values from y. The default is FALSE so that only rows with data from both x and y are included in the output.


logical; analogous to all.x above.


logical. If TRUE (default), the rows of the merged data.table are sorted by setting the key to the by / by.x columns. If FALSE, unlike base R's merge for which row order is unspecified, the row order in x is retained (including retaining the position of missings when all.x=TRUE), followed by y rows that don't match x (when all.y=TRUE) retaining the order those appear in y.


A character(2) specifying the suffixes to be used for making non-by column names unique. The suffix behaviour works in a similar fashion as the method does.


logical indicating that suffixes are also appended to non-by.y column names in y when they have the same column name as any by.x.


See allow.cartesian in [.data.table.


values which cannot be matched and therefore are excluded from by columns.


Not used at this time.


merge is a generic function in base R. It dispatches to either the method or method depending on the class of its first argument. Note that, unlike SQL join, NA is matched against NA (and NaN against NaN) while merging.

For a more data.table-centric way of merging two data.tables, see [.data.table; e.g., x[y, ...]. See FAQ 1.11 for a detailed comparison of merge and x[y, ...].


A new data.table based on the merged data tables, and sorted by the columns set (or inferred for) the by argument if argument sort is set to TRUE.

See Also

data.table, setkey, [.data.table,


(dt1 <- data.table(A = letters[1:10], X = 1:10, key = "A"))
(dt2 <- data.table(A = letters[5:14], Y = 1:10, key = "A"))
merge(dt1, dt2)
merge(dt1, dt2, all = TRUE)

(dt1 <- data.table(A = letters[rep(1:3, 2)], X = 1:6, key = "A"))
(dt2 <- data.table(A = letters[rep(2:4, 2)], Y = 6:1, key = "A"))
merge(dt1, dt2, allow.cartesian=TRUE)

(dt1 <- data.table(A = c(rep(1L, 5), 2L), B = letters[rep(1:3, 2)], X = 1:6, key = "A,B"))
(dt2 <- data.table(A = c(rep(1L, 5), 2L), B = letters[rep(2:4, 2)], Y = 6:1, key = "A,B"))
merge(dt1, dt2)
merge(dt1, dt2, by="B", allow.cartesian=TRUE)

# test it more:
d1 <- data.table(a=rep(1:2,each=3), b=1:6, key="a,b")
d2 <- data.table(a=0:1, bb=10:11, key="a")
d3 <- data.table(a=0:1, key="a")
d4 <- data.table(a=0:1, b=0:1, key="a,b")

merge(d1, d2)
merge(d2, d1)
merge(d1, d2, all=TRUE)
merge(d2, d1, all=TRUE)

merge(d3, d1)
merge(d1, d3)
merge(d1, d3, all=TRUE)
merge(d3, d1, all=TRUE)

merge(d1, d4)
merge(d1, d4, by="a", suffixes=c(".d1", ".d4"))
merge(d4, d1)
merge(d1, d4, all=TRUE)
merge(d4, d1, all=TRUE)

# setkey is automatic by default
d1 <- data.table(a=sample(rep(1:3,each=2)), z=1:6)
d2 <- data.table(a=2:0, z=10:12)
merge(d1, d2, by="a")
merge(d1, d2, by="a", all=TRUE)

# using by.x and by.y
setnames(d2, "a", "b")
merge(d1, d2, by.x="a", by.y="b")
merge(d1, d2, by.x="a", by.y="b", all=TRUE)
merge(d2, d1, by.x="b", by.y="a")

# using incomparables values
d1 <- data.table(a=c(1,2,NA,NA,3,1), z=1:6)
d2 <- data.table(a=c(1,2,NA), z=10:12)
merge(d1, d2, by="a")
merge(d1, d2, by="a", incomparables=NA)

Rdatatable/data.table documentation built on Nov. 15, 2023, 8:05 p.m.