gsubfn (version 0.7)

gsubfn: Pattern Matching and Replacement


Like gsub except instead of a replacement string one uses a function which accepts the matched text as input and emits replacement text for it.


gsubfn(pattern, replacement, x, backref, USE.NAMES = FALSE, = FALSE, engine = getOption("gsubfn.engine"),
	env = parent.frame(), ...)



Same as pattern in gsub


A character string, function, list, formula or proto object. See Details.


Same as x in gsub


Number of backreferences to be passed to function. If zero or positive the match is passed as the first argument to the replacement function followed by the indicated number of backreferences as subsequent arguments. If negative then only the that number of backreferences are passed but the match itself is not. If omitted it will be determined automatically, i.e. it will be 0 if there are no backreferences and otherwise it will equal negative the number of back references. It determines this by counting the number of non-escaped left parentheses in the pattern. Also if the function contains an ampersand as an argument then backref will be taken as non-negative and the ampersand argument will get the full match.


See USE.NAMES in sapply.

If TRUE then case is ignored in the pattern argument.


Specifies which engine to use. If the R installation has tcltk capability then the tcl engine is used unless FUN is a proto object or perl=TRUE in which case the "R" engine is used (regardless of the setting of this argument).


Environment in which to evaluate the replacement function. Normally this is left at its default value.

Other gsub arguments.


As in gsub.


If replacement is a string then it acts like gsub.

If replacement is a function then each matched string is passed to the replacement function and the output of that function replaces the matched string in the result. The first argument to the replacement function is the matched string and subsequent arguments are the backreferences, if any.

If replacement is a list then the result of the regular expression match is, in turn, matched against the names of that list and the value corresponding to the first name in the list that is match is returned. If there are no names matching then the first unnamed component is returned and if there are no matches then the string to be matched is returned. If backref is not specified or is specified and is positive then the entire match is used to lookup the value in the list whereas if backref is negative then the identified backreference is used.

If replacement is a formula instead of a function then a one line function is created whose body is the right hand side of the formula and whose arguments are the left hand side separated by + signs (or any other valid operator). The environment of the function is the environment of the formula. If the arguments are omitted then the free variables found on the right hand side are used in the order encountered. 0 can be used to indicate no arguments. letters, LETTERS and pi are never automatically used as arguments.

If replacement is a proto object then it should have a fun method which is like the replacement function except its first argument is the object and the remaining arguments are as in the replacement function and are affected by backref in the same way. gsubfn automatically inserts the named arguments in the call to gsubfn into the proto object and also maintains a count variable which counts matches within strings. The user may optionally specify pre and post methods in the proto object which are fired at the beginning and end of each string (not each match). They each take one argument, the object.

Note that if the "R" engine is used and if backref is non-negative then internally the pattern will be parenthesized.

A utility function cat0 is available. They are like cat and paste except that their default sep value is "".

See Also



Run this code
# adds 1 to each number in third arg
gsubfn("[[:digit:]]+", function(x) as.numeric(x)+1, "(10 20)(100 30)") 

# same but using formula notation for function
gsubfn("[[:digit:]]+", ~ as.numeric(x)+1, "(10 20)(100 30)") 

# replaces pairs m:n with their sum
s <- "abc 10:20 def 30:40 50"
gsubfn("([0-9]+):([0-9]+)", ~ as.numeric(x) + as.numeric(y), s)

# default pattern for gsubfn does quasi-perl-style string interpolation
gsubfn( , , "pi = $pi, 2pi = `2*pi`") 

# Extracts numbers from string and places them into numeric vector v.
# Normally this would be done in strapply instead.
v <- c(); f <- function(x) v <<- append(v,as.numeric(x))
junk <- gsubfn("[0-9]+", f, "12;34:56,89,,12")

# same
strapply("12;34:56,89,,12", "[0-9]+", simplify = c)

# replaces numbers with that many Xs separated by -
gsubfn("[[:digit:]]+", ~ paste(rep("X", n), collapse = "-"), "5.2")

# replaces units with scale factor
gsubfn(".m", list(cm = "e1", km = "e6"), "33cm 45km")

# place <...> around first two occurrences
p <- proto(fun = function(this, x) if (count <= 2) paste0("<", x, ">") else x)
gsubfn("\\w+", p, "the cat in the hat is back")

# replace each number by cumulative sum to that point
p2 <- proto(pre = function(this) this$value <- 0,
	fun = function(this, x) this$value <- value + as.numeric(x))
gsubfn("[0-9]+", p2, "12 3 11, 25 9")

# this only works if your R installation has tcltk capabilities
# See following example for corresponding code with R engine
if (isTRUE(capabilities()[["tcltk"]])) {
	gsubfn("(.)\\1", ~ paste0(`&`, "!"), "abbcddd")

# with R and backref >=0 (implied) the pattern is internally parenthesized
# so must use \2 rather than \1
gsubfn("(.)\\2", ~ paste0(`&`, "!"), "abbcddd", engine = "R")

# }

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