rotations (version 1.6.5)

tail: Return the First or Last Parts of an Object


Returns the first or last parts of a vector, matrix, table, data frame or function. Since head() and tail() are generic functions, they may also have been extended to other classes.


# S3 method for SO3
tail(x, n = 6L, addrownums = TRUE, ...)

# S3 method for Q4 tail(x, n = 6L, addrownums = TRUE, ...)


An object (usually) like x but generally smaller. Hence, for

arrays, the result corresponds to x[.., drop=FALSE]. For ftable objects x, a transformed format(x).



an object


an integer vector of length up to dim(x) (or 1, for non-dimensioned objects). A logical is silently coerced to integer. Values specify the indices to be selected in the corresponding dimension (or along the length) of the object. A positive value of n[i] includes the first/last n[i] indices in that dimension, while a negative value excludes the last/first abs(n[i]), including all remaining indices. NA or non-specified values (when length(n) < length(dim(x))) select all indices in that dimension. Must contain at least one non-missing value.


deprecated - keepnums should be used instead. Taken as the value of keepnums if it is explicitly set when keepnums is not.


arguments to be passed to or from other methods.


Patrick Burns, improved and corrected by R-Core. Negative argument added by Vincent Goulet. Multi-dimension support added by Gabriel Becker.


For vector/array based objects, head() (tail()) returns a subset of the same dimensionality as x, usually of the same class. For historical reasons, by default they select the first (last) 6 indices in the first dimension ("rows") or along the length of a non-dimensioned vector, and the full extent (all indices) in any remaining dimensions. head.matrix() and tail.matrix() are exported.

The default and array(/matrix) methods for head() and tail() are quite general. They will work as is for any class which has a dim() method, a length() method (only required if dim() returns NULL), and a [ method (that accepts the drop argument and can subset in all dimensions in the dimensioned case).

For functions, the lines of the deparsed function are returned as character strings.

When x is an array(/matrix) of dimensionality two and more, tail() will add dimnames similar to how they would appear in a full printing of x for all dimensions k where n[k] is specified and non-missing and dimnames(x)[[k]] (or dimnames(x) itself) is NULL. Specifically, the form of the added dimnames will vary for different dimensions as follows:

k=1 (rows):

"[n,]" (right justified with whitespace padding)

k=2 (columns):

"[,n]" (with no whitespace padding)

k>2 (higher dims):

"n", i.e., the indices as character values

Setting keepnums = FALSE suppresses this behaviour.

As data.frame subsetting (‘indexing’) keeps attributes, so do the head() and tail() methods for data frames.


Run this code
head(letters, n = -6L)

head(freeny.x, n = 10L)

head(iris3, c(6L, 2L))
head(iris3, c(6L, -1L, 2L))

tail(letters, n = -6L)

## the bottom-right "corner" :
tail(freeny.x, n = c(4, 2))

tail(iris3, c(6L, 2L))
tail(iris3, c(6L, -1L, 2L))

## iris with dimnames stripped
a3d <- iris3 ; dimnames(a3d) <- NULL
tail(a3d, c(6, -1, 2)) # keepnums = TRUE is default here!
tail(a3d, c(6, -1, 2), keepnums = FALSE)

## data frame w/ a (non-standard) attribute:
treeS <- structure(trees, foo = "bar")
(n <- nrow(treeS))
stopifnot(exprs = { # attribute is kept
    identical(htS <- head(treeS), treeS[1:6, ])
    identical(attr(htS, "foo") , "bar")
    identical(tlS <- tail(treeS), treeS[(n-5):n, ])
    ## BUT if I use "useAttrib(.)", this is *not* ok, when n is of length 2:
    ## --- because [i,j]-indexing of data frames *also* drops "other" attributes ..
    identical(tail(treeS, 3:2), treeS[(n-2):n, 2:3] )

tail(library) # last lines of function


## 1d-array (with named dim) :
a1 <- array(1:7, 7); names(dim(a1)) <- "O2"
stopifnot(exprs = {
  identical( tail(a1, 10), a1)
  identical( head(a1, 10), a1)
  identical( head(a1, 1), a1 [1 , drop=FALSE] ) # was a1[1] in R <= 3.6.x
  identical( tail(a1, 2), a1[6:7])
  identical( tail(a1, 1), a1 [7 , drop=FALSE] ) # was a1[7] in R <= 3.6.x

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