order {base}R Documentation

Ordering Permutation


order returns a permutation which rearranges its first argument into ascending or descending order, breaking ties by further arguments. sort.list is the same, using only one argument.


order(..., na.last = TRUE, decreasing = FALSE)

sort.list(x, partial = NULL, na.last = TRUE, decreasing = FALSE,
          method = c("shell", "quick", "radix"))


... a sequence of numeric, complex, character or logical vectors, all of the same length.
x a vector.
partial vector of indices for partial sorting.
decreasing logical. Should the sort order be increasing or decreasing?
na.last for controlling the treatment of NAs. If TRUE, missing values in the data are put last; if FALSE, they are put first; if NA, they are removed.
method the method to be used: partial matches are allowed.


In the case of ties in the first vector, values in the second are used to break the ties. If the values are still tied, values in the later arguments are used to break the tie (see the first example). The sort used is stable (except for method = "quick"), so any unresolved ties will be left in their original ordering.

The default method for sort.list is a good compromise. Method "quick" is only supported for numeric x with na.last=NA, and is not stable, but will be faster for long vectors. Method "radix" is only implemented for integer x with a range of less than 100,000. For such x it is very fast (and stable), and hence is ideal for sorting factors.

partial is supplied for compatibility with other implementations of S, but no other values are accepted and ordering is always complete.


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

See Also

sort and rank.


(ii <- order(x <- c(1,1,3:1,1:4,3), y <- c(9,9:1), z <-c(2,1:9)))
## 6  5  2  1  7  4 10  8  3  9
rbind(x,y,z)[,ii] # shows the reordering (ties via 2nd & 3rd arg)

## Suppose we wanted descending order on y. A simple solution is
rbind(x,y,z)[, order(x, -y, z)]
## For character vectors we can make use of rank:
cy <- as.character(y)
rbind(x,y,z)[, order(x, -rank(y), z)]

## rearrange matched vectors so that the first is in ascending order
x <- c(5:1, 6:8, 12:9)
y <- (x - 5)^2
o <- order(x)
rbind(x[o], y[o])

## tests of na.last
a <- c(4, 3, 2, NA, 1)
b <- c(4, NA, 2, 7, 1)
z <- cbind(a, b)
(o <- order(a, b)); z[o, ]
(o <- order(a, b, na.last = FALSE)); z[o, ]
(o <- order(a, b, na.last = NA)); z[o, ]

## Not run: 
##  speed examples for long vectors: timings are immediately after gc()
x <- factor(sample(letters, 1e6, replace=TRUE))
system.time(o <- sort.list(x)) ## 4 secs
system.time(o <- sort.list(x, method="quick", na.last=NA)) # 0.4 sec
system.time(o <- sort.list(x, method="radix")) # 0.04 sec
xx <- sample(1:26, 1e7, replace=TRUE)
system.time(o <- sort.list(xx, method="radix")) # 0.4 sec
xx <- sample(1:100000, 1e7, replace=TRUE)
system.time(o <- sort.list(xx, method="radix")) # 4 sec
## End(Not run)

[Package base version 2.1.0 Index]