attach {base}R Documentation

Attach Set of R Objects to Search Path

Description

The database is attached to the R search path. This means that the database is searched by R when evaluating a variable, so objects in the database can be accessed by simply giving their names.

Usage

attach(what, pos = 2, name = deparse(substitute(what)))

Arguments

what “database”. This may currently be a data.frame or list or a R data file created with save.
pos integer specifying position in search() where to attach.
name alternative way to specify the database to be attached.

Details

When evaluating a variable or function name R searches for that name in the databases listed by search. The first name of the appropriate type is used.

By attaching a data frame to the search path it is possible to refer to the variables in the data frame by their names alone, rather than as components of the data frame (eg in the example below, height rather than women$height).

By default the database is attached in position 2 in the search path, immediately after the user's workspace and before all previously loaded packages and previously attached databases. This can be altered to attach later in the search path with the pos option, but you cannot attach at pos=1.

The database is not actually attached. Rather, a new environment is created on the search path and the elements of a list (including columns of a dataframe) or objects in a save file are copied into the new environment. If you use <<- or assign to assign to an attached database, you only alter the attached copy, not the original object. (Normal assignment will place a modified version in the user's workspace: see the examples.) For this reason attach can lead to confusion.

One useful ‘trick’ is to use what = NULL (or equivalently a length-zero list) to create a new environment on the search path into which objects can be assigned by assign or sys.source.

Value

The environment is returned invisibly with a "name" attribute.

References

Becker, R. A., Chambers, J. M. and Wilks, A. R. (1988) The New S Language. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole.

See Also

library, detach, search, objects, environment, with.

Examples

summary(women$height)   # refers to variable 'height' in the data frame
attach(women)
summary(height)         # The same variable now available by name
height <- height*2.54   # Don't do this. It creates a new variable
                        # in the user's workspace
find("height")
summary(height)         # The new variable in the workspace
rm(height)
summary(height)         # The original variable.
height <<- height*25.4  # Change the copy in the attached environment
find("height")
summary(height)         # The changed copy
detach("women")
summary(women$height)   # unchanged

## Not run: 
## create an environment on the search path and populate it
sys.source("myfuns.R", envir=attach(NULL, name="myfuns"))
## End(Not run)

[Package base version 2.1.0 Index]