Inconsistency of c.Date: non-commutativity and non-integer Value

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Inconsistency of c.Date: non-commutativity and non-integer Value

Jens Heumann-2
Dear r-devel,

Today I came across what I would call inconsistencies in the `c.Date`
method compared to what happens when concatenating other classes: 1.
Non-commutativity: The type in the arrangements of the elements does
matter (first element is critical), 2. the resulting value is numeric
instead of expected integer (as in the case with factors).

 > ##
Examples####################################################################
 > ## 1. Non-commutativity:
 > c(.1, Sys.Date())
[1]     0.1 18649.0
 > c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date())
[1]     0 18649
 > ## whereas:
 > c(Sys.Date(), .1)
Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
 > c(Sys.Date(), as.integer(.1))
Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
 >
 > ## 2. Numeric instead of numeric value
 > str(c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date()))
  num [1:2] 0 18649  ## not integer
 >
################################################################################


I'm not sure if `c.Date` should redefined, since there would probably be
many more classes to consider. However, the error message "'origin' must
be supplied" cannot be served by the user and appears to me like an
imperfection in the design.

It would be desirable if `c.Date` harmonizes with the hierarchy stated
in `?c`: "NULL < raw < logical < integer < double < complex < character
< list < expression. [...] factors are treated only via their internal
integer codes" and behaves best like a factor (and also throws integer
values as in 2. above).

Or maybe disabling non-dates at all `if (!all(sapply(list(Sys.Date(),
.1), "class") == "Date")) stop...`, but this is a little beyond my
knowledge.

Anyway, I hope my remark is of relevance and contributes to the
continuous development of our great programming language R!

Best,

Jens

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Re: Inconsistency of c.Date: non-commutativity and non-integer Value

Dirk Eddelbuettel

On 22 January 2021 at 21:35, Jens Heumann wrote:
| Dear r-devel,
|
| Today I came across what I would call inconsistencies in the `c.Date`
| method compared to what happens when concatenating other classes: 1.
| Non-commutativity: The type in the arrangements of the elements does
| matter (first element is critical), 2. the resulting value is numeric
| instead of expected integer (as in the case with factors).
|
|  > ##
| Examples####################################################################
|  > ## 1. Non-commutativity:
|  > c(.1, Sys.Date())
| [1]     0.1 18649.0
|  > c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date())
| [1]     0 18649
|  > ## whereas:
|  > c(Sys.Date(), .1)
| Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
|  > c(Sys.Date(), as.integer(.1))
| Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
|  >
|  > ## 2. Numeric instead of numeric value
|  > str(c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date()))
|   num [1:2] 0 18649  ## not integer
|  >
| ################################################################################
|
|
| I'm not sure if `c.Date` should redefined, since there would probably be
| many more classes to consider. However, the error message "'origin' must
| be supplied" cannot be served by the user and appears to me like an
| imperfection in the design.
|
| It would be desirable if `c.Date` harmonizes with the hierarchy stated
| in `?c`: "NULL < raw < logical < integer < double < complex < character
| < list < expression. [...] factors are treated only via their internal
| integer codes" and behaves best like a factor (and also throws integer
| values as in 2. above).
|
| Or maybe disabling non-dates at all `if (!all(sapply(list(Sys.Date(),
| .1), "class") == "Date")) stop...`, but this is a little beyond my
| knowledge.
|
| Anyway, I hope my remark is of relevance and contributes to the
| continuous development of our great programming language R!

Nice analysis, well done.  Sadly it is also a "known feature" of the c()
operator and documented as such -- S3 class attributes drop. C'est la vie.
From ?c

     ‘c’ is sometimes used for its side effect of removing attributes
     except names, for example to turn an array into a vector.
     ‘as.vector’ is a more intuitive way to do this, but also drops
     names.  Note that methods other than the default are not required
     to do this (and they will almost certainly preserve a class
     attribute).

I have into that trap approximately 4.56e8 times in this idiom

    > for (d in Sys.Date() + 0:2) print(d)
    [1] 18649
    [1] 18650
    [1] 18651
    >

Eventually one learns to switch to an iterator, and to pick the dates from a
vector preserving their class.

Dirk

--
https://dirk.eddelbuettel.com | @eddelbuettel | [hidden email]

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Re: Inconsistency of c.Date: non-commutativity and non-integer Value

Gabriel Becker-2
Hi Jens,

On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 1:18 PM Dirk Eddelbuettel <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 22 January 2021 at 21:35, Jens Heumann wrote:
> | Dear r-devel,
> |
> | Today I came across what I would call inconsistencies in the `c.Date`
> | method compared to what happens when concatenating other classes: 1.
> | Non-commutativity: The type in the arrangements of the elements does
> | matter (first element is critical), 2. the resulting value is numeric
> | instead of expected integer (as in the case with factors).
> |
> |  > ##
> |
> Examples####################################################################
> |  > ## 1. Non-commutativity:
> |  > c(.1, Sys.Date())
> | [1]     0.1 18649.0
> |  > c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date())
> | [1]     0 18649
> |  > ## whereas:
> |  > c(Sys.Date(), .1)
> | Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
> |  > c(Sys.Date(), as.integer(.1))
> | Error in as.Date.numeric(e) : 'origin' must be supplied
> |  >
> |  > ## 2. Numeric instead of numeric value
> |  > str(c(as.integer(.1), Sys.Date()))
> |   num [1:2] 0 18649  ## not integer
> |  >
> |
> ################################################################################
>
> |
> |
> | I'm not sure if `c.Date` should redefined, since there would probably be
> | many more classes to consider. However, the error message "'origin' must
> | be supplied" cannot be served by the user and appears to me like an
> | imperfection in the design.
> |
> | It would be desirable if `c.Date` harmonizes with the hierarchy stated
> | in `?c`: "NULL < raw < logical < integer < double < complex < character
> | < list < expression. [...] factors are treated only via their internal
> | integer codes" and behaves best like a factor (and also throws integer
> | values as in 2. above).
>

So I think the issue here is twofold. The first (fairly subtle) issue here
is that "Date" is not a type, it's an "(S3) class" (which, in turn, is just
a labeling attribute, as illustrated by the fact that it's removed by
c.default).

> typeof(Sys.Date())

[1] "double"


So Date cannot appear anywhere in that hierarchy, because it is a hierarchy
of types.

The reason c(as.integer(1), Sys.Date()) gives a numeric, is in fact because
of that type hierarchy, as one of the elements is a "double" (the Date),
which precludes returning an integer.

The second issue is is that S3 dispatch occurs only on the first element,
so you're hitting completely different methods with  c(as.integer(1),
Sys.Date()) and c(Sys.Date(), as.integer(1)) So that is where your
non-commutativity is coming from.  Personally, I think the case for
c(<Date>, stuff) to give you a Date object back is stronger than that of
commutativity, given the caveat that it would only be commutative if
c(<Date>, <character w/ date string>) gave you a character back and
c(<Date>, <numeric>) gave you a numeric back, but I can see there's space
to disagree about that and argue for commutative absolutism.

Note though that there is unlikely to be a way to get c(<character date
string>, <Date>) to give you a Date back, because, again, S3 dispatch only
sees the first argument, so you would *at best* be in c.character (but in
as it stands now, in c.default, which explicitly strips classes).

I do agree though that imho, the error from the latter could at least be
improved. Unfortunately, Date objects do not carry around their origin, so
we cannot do something such as "use the same origin as the Date object
which caused dispatch into this method for any non-Date objects", which was
going to be my suggestion here until I checked its feasibility.

Best,
~G

|

> | Or maybe disabling non-dates at all `if (!all(sapply(list(Sys.Date(),
> | .1), "class") == "Date")) stop...`, but this is a little beyond my
> | knowledge.
> |
> | Anyway, I hope my remark is of relevance and contributes to the
> | continuous development of our great programming language R!
>
> Nice analysis, well done.  Sadly it is also a "known feature" of the c()
> operator and documented as such -- S3 class attributes drop. C'est la vie.
> From ?c
>
>      ‘c’ is sometimes used for its side effect of removing attributes
>      except names, for example to turn an array into a vector.
>      ‘as.vector’ is a more intuitive way to do this, but also drops
>      names.  Note that methods other than the default are not required
>      to do this (and they will almost certainly preserve a class
>      attribute).
>
> I have into that trap approximately 4.56e8 times in this idiom
>
>     > for (d in Sys.Date() + 0:2) print(d)
>     [1] 18649
>     [1] 18650
>     [1] 18651
>     >
>
> Eventually one learns to switch to an iterator, and to pick the dates from
> a
> vector preserving their class.
>
> Dirk
>
> --
> https://dirk.eddelbuettel.com | @eddelbuettel | [hidden email]
>
> ______________________________________________
> [hidden email] mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
>

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