cbind {base}R Documentation

Combine R Objects by Rows or Columns


Take a sequence of vector, matrix or data frames arguments and combine by columns or rows, respectively. These are generic functions with methods for other R classes.


cbind(..., deparse.level = 1)
rbind(..., deparse.level = 1)


... vectors or matrices. These can be given as named arguments. Other R objects will be coerced as appropriate: see section Details and Value. (For the "data.frame" method of cbind these can be further arguments to data.frame such as stringsAsFactors and check.names.)
deparse.level integer controlling the construction of labels in the case of “non-matrix-like” arguments (i.e., for the default method):
deparse.level = 0 constructs no labels; the default, deparse.level = 1 or 2 constructs labels from the argument names, see the ‘Value’ section below.


The functions cbind and rbind are S3 generic, with methods for data frames. The data frame method will be used if at least one argument is a data frame and the rest are vectors or matrices. There can be other methods; in particular, there is one for time series objects.

In the default method, all the vectors/matrices must be atomic (see vector) or lists. Expressions are not allowed. Language objects (such as formulae and calls) and pairlists will be coerced to lists: other objects (such as names and external pointers) will be included as elements in a list result.

If there are several matrix arguments, they must all have the same number of columns (or rows) and this will be the number of columns (or rows) of the result. If all the arguments are vectors, the number of columns (rows) in the result is equal to the length of the longest vector. Values in shorter arguments are recycled to achieve this length (with a warning if they are recycled only fractionally).

When the arguments consist of a mix of matrices and vectors the number of columns (rows) of the result is determined by the number of columns (rows) of the matrix arguments. Any vectors have their values recycled or subsetted to achieve this length.

For cbind (rbind), vectors of zero length (including NULL) are ignored unless the result would have zero rows (columns), for S compatibility. (Zero-extent matrices do not occur in S3 and are not ignored in R.)

The rbind data frame method first drops all zero-column and zero-row arguments. (If that leaves none, it returns the first argument with columns otherwise a zero-column zero-row data frame.) It then takes the classes of the columns from the first data frame, and matches columns by name (rather than by position). Factors have their levels expanded as necessary (in the order of the levels of the levelsets of the factors encountered) and the result is an ordered factor if and only if all the components were ordered factors. (The last point differs from S-PLUS.) Categories (integer vectors with levels) are promoted to factors.


A matrix or data frame combining the ... arguments column-wise or row-wise. (Exception: if all the inputs are NULL, the value is NULL.)
For cbind (rbind) the column (row) names are taken from the colnames (rownames) of the arguments if these are matrix-like. Otherwise from the names of the arguments or where those are not supplied and deparse.level > 0, by deparsing the expressions given, for deparse.level = 1 only if that gives a sensible name (a ‘symbol’, see is.symbol).
The names will depend on whether data frames are included: see the examples.
If a matrix is created, it will be a list if any of the inputs is not NULL nor an atomic vector. Otherwise its type is determined from the highest type of the inputs in the hierarchy NULL < raw < logical < integer < real < complex < character < list.


The method dispatching is not done via UseMethod(), but by C-internal dispatching. Therefore, there is no need for, e.g., rbind.default.

The dispatch algorithm is described in the source file (‘.../src/main/bind.c’) as

  1. For each argument we get the list of possible class memberships from the class attribute.
  2. We inspect each class in turn to see if there is an an applicable method.
  3. If we find an applicable method we make sure that it is identical to any method determined for prior arguments. If it is identical, we proceed, otherwise we immediately drop through to the default code.

If you want to combine other objects with data frames, it may be necessary to coerce them to data frames first. (Note that this algorithm can result in calling the data frame method if the arguments are all either data frames or vectors, and this will result in the coercion of character vectors to factors.)


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

See Also

c to combine vectors (and lists) as vectors, data.frame to combine vectors and matrices as a data frame.


m <- cbind(1, 1:7) # the '1' (= shorter vector) is recycled
m <- cbind(m, 8:14)[, c(1, 3, 2)] # insert a column
cbind(1:7, diag(3))# vector is subset -> warning

cbind(0, rbind(1, 1:3))
cbind(I=0, X=rbind(a=1, b=1:3))  # use some names
xx <- data.frame(I=rep(0,2))
cbind(xx, X=rbind(a=1, b=1:3))   # named differently

cbind(0, matrix(1, nrow=0, ncol=4))#> Warning (making sense)
dim(cbind(0, matrix(1, nrow=2, ncol=0)))#-> 2 x 1

## deparse.level
dd <- 10
rbind(1:4, c=2, "a++" = 10, dd, deparse.level=0)# middle 2 rownames
rbind(1:4, c=2, "a++" = 10, dd, deparse.level=1)# 3 rownames (default)
rbind(1:4, c=2, "a++" = 10, dd, deparse.level=2)# 4 rownames

[Package base version 2.5.0 Index]