# How to summarize data by group in R? [closed]

I have R data frame like this:

        age group
1   23.0883     1
2   25.8344     1
3   29.4648     1
4   32.7858     2
5   33.6372     1
6   34.9350     1
7   35.2115     2
8   35.2115     2
9   35.2115     2
10  36.7803     1
...


I need to get data frame in the following form:

group mean     sd
1     34.5     5.6
2     32.3     4.2
...


Group number may vary, but their names and quantity could be obtained by calling levels(factor(data$group)) What manipulations should be done with the data to get the result? • the commas in the result data frame mean something special, or is it just the decimal point? Mar 13, 2011 at 12:46 • @mpiktas Thank you for noting. Corrected. These were locale issues (I am russian) - we we use comma for decimal separation. Mar 13, 2011 at 12:59 • I suspected that. All of the Europe uses comma except the British. Mar 13, 2011 at 13:04 • Despite not being British, I prefer dot for decimal separator. Mar 14, 2011 at 12:17 • See aggregate, tapply, and then stackoverflow.com for any subsequent coding questions of this type. Sep 11, 2015 at 23:26 ## 9 Answers Here is the plyr one line variant using ddply: dt <- data.frame(age=rchisq(20,10),group=sample(1:2,20,rep=T)) ddply(dt,~group,summarise,mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age))  Here is another one line variant using new package data.table. dtf <- data.frame(age=rchisq(100000,10),group=factor(sample(1:10,100000,rep=T))) dt <- data.table(dtf) dt[,list(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age)),by=group]  This one is faster, though this is noticeable only on table with 100k rows. Timings on my Macbook Pro with 2.53 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor and R 2.11.1: > system.time(aa <- ddply(dtf,~group,summarise,mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age))) utilisateur système écoulé 0.513 0.180 0.692 > system.time(aa <- dt[,list(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age)),by=group]) utilisateur système écoulé 0.087 0.018 0.103  Further savings are possible if we use setkey: > setkey(dt,group) > system.time(dt[,list(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age)),by=group]) utilisateur système écoulé 0.040 0.007 0.048  • @chl, it gave me a chance to try out this new data.table package. It looks really promising. Mar 15, 2011 at 12:54 • +6000 for data.table. It really is so much faster than ddply, even for me on datasets smaller than 100k (I have one with just 20k rows). Must be something to do with the functions I am applying, but ddply will take minutes and data.table a few seconds. Sep 22, 2011 at 15:22 • Simple typo: I think you meant dt <- data.table(dtf) instead of dt <- data.table(dt) in the second code block. That way, you are creating the data table from a data frame instead of from the dt function from the stats package. I tried editing it, but I cannot do edits under six characters. Oct 24, 2014 at 18:50 • In my (not humble in this case) opinion data.table is the best way to aggregate data and this answer is great, but still only scratches the surface. Aside from being syntactically superior, it's also extremely flexible and has many advanced features that involve joins and internal mechanics. Check out the FAQ, github page, or course for more info. Oct 29, 2014 at 3:47 One possibility is to use the aggregate function. For instance, aggregate(data$age, by=list(data$group), FUN=mean)  gives you the second column of the desired result. • Don't link to your local help server :-) +1 but see my comments to @steffen's response. – chl Mar 13, 2011 at 12:26 • Done the thing by calling data.frame(group=levels(factor(data$group)),mean=(aggregate(data$age, by=list(data$group), FUN=mean)$x),sd=(aggregate(data$age, by=list(data$group), FUN=sd)$x)) but I am not shure it is correct way. I am not sure what will happen then the results of binded columns will be in different order (I think it is possible). What is your oppinion? Mar 13, 2011 at 12:46
• @Yuriy The rows should not be out of order, but here is a way to do it one call to aggregate(): aggregate(age ~ group, data=dat, FUN = function(x) c(M=mean(x), SD=sd(x))) Mar 14, 2011 at 16:51
• @lockedoff: Thank you for having completed my answer! Mar 15, 2011 at 10:22

Since you are manipulating a data frame, the dplyr package is probably the faster way to do it.

library(dplyr)
dt <- data.frame(age=rchisq(20,10), group=sample(1:2,20, rep=T))
grp <- group_by(dt, group)
summarise(grp, mean=mean(age), sd=sd(age))


or equivalently, using the dplyr/magrittr pipe operator:

library(dplyr)
dt <- data.frame(age=rchisq(20,10), group=sample(1:2,20, rep=T))
group_by(dt, group) %>%
summarise(mean=mean(age), sd=sd(age))


EDIT full use of pipe operator:

library(dplyr)
data.frame(age=rchisq(20,10), group=sample(1:2,20, rep=T)) %>%
group_by(group) %>%
summarise(mean=mean(age), sd=sd(age))

• +1 for dplyr. It has made so many R tasks simple and many of these methods obsolete. Jul 15, 2014 at 13:02
• The full use of pipe operator version does not work for me unfortunately Sep 10, 2017 at 5:41
• did you load dplyr or magrittr ? Sep 10, 2017 at 9:42
• thank you very much @bquast for pointing out towards the solution, summarise function was called from plyr instead of dplyr which was causing the problem. Sep 10, 2017 at 21:31

In addition to existing suggestions, you might want to check out the describe.by function in the psych package.

It provides a number of descriptive statistics including the mean and standard deviation based on a grouping variable.

• its nice, but somewhat tricky to export to LaTeX IME. Mar 14, 2011 at 10:08

Great, thanks bquast for adding the dplyr solution!

Turns out that then, dplyr and data.table are very close:

library(plyr)
library(dplyr)
library(data.table)
library(rbenchmark)

dtf <- data.frame(age=rchisq(100000,10),group=factor(sample(1:10,100000,rep=T)))
dt <- data.table(dtf)

setkey(dt,group)

a<-benchmark(ddply(dtf,~group,plyr:::summarise,mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age)),
dt[,list(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age)),by=group],
group_by(dt, group) %>% summarise(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age) ),
group_by(dtf, group) %>% summarise(mean=mean(age),sd=sd(age) )
)

a[, c(1,3,4)]


data.table is still the fastest, by followed very closely by dplyr(), which interestingly seems faster on the data.frame than the data.table:

                                                              test elapsed relative
1 ddply(dtf, ~group, plyr:::summarise, mean = mean(age), sd = sd(age))   1.689    4.867
2               dt[, list(mean = mean(age), sd = sd(age)), by = group]   0.347    1.000
4   group_by(dtf, group) %>% summarise(mean = mean(age), sd = sd(age))   0.369    1.063
3    group_by(dt, group) %>% summarise(mean = mean(age), sd = sd(age))   0.580    1.671

• At first I thought you needed to move setkey into the benchmark, but turns out that takes almost no time at all. Oct 16, 2014 at 14:27

I have found the function summaryBy in the doBy package to be the most convenient for this:

library(doBy)

age    = c(23.0883, 25.8344, 29.4648, 32.7858, 33.6372,
34.935,  35.2115, 35.2115,  5.2115, 36.7803)
group  = c(1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1)
dframe = data.frame(age=age, group=group)

summaryBy(age~group, data=dframe, FUN=c(mean, sd))
#
#   group age.mean    age.sd
# 1     1 30.62333  5.415439
# 2     2 27.10507 14.640441


Edited: According to chl's suggestions

The function you are looking for is called "tapply" which applies a function per group specified by a factor.

# create some artificial data
set.seed(42)
groups <- 5

agedat <- c()
groupdat <- c()

for(group in 1:groups){
agedat <- c(agedat,rnorm(100,mean=0 + group,1/group))
groupdat <- c(groupdat,rep(group,100))
}
dat <- data.frame("age"=agedat,"group"=factor(groupdat))

# calculate mean and stdev age per group
res <- rbind.data.frame(group=1:5, with(dat, tapply(age, group, function(x) c(mean(x), sd(x)))))
names(res) <- paste("group",1:5)
row.names(res)[2:3] <- c("mean","sd")


I really suggest to work through a basic R tutorial explaining all commonly used datastructures and methods. Otherwise you will get stuck every inch during programming. See this question for a collection of free available resources.

• @steffen +1 but there's no need for a for loop here, you can contruct your dataframe inline, IMO. For the tapply call, use function(x) c(mean(x),sd(x))) and cbind the result as the OP asked for both statistics. Also, ddply from the plyr package could do this smoothly.
– chl
Mar 13, 2011 at 12:24
• @steffen The problem is I need the exactly the table structure I described. There is no problem with getting means and sd. The problem is with stucture. Mar 13, 2011 at 12:35
• @chl: Thank you for your comment, did not know about plyr :). I added cbind, but left the rest untouched. May another one take the credit, this answer shall remain as a less optimal example. Mar 13, 2011 at 12:35
• @Yuriy: Added cbind. If you already knew how to apply functions per group, you may reformulate your question (just for clarity ;)). Mar 13, 2011 at 12:37
• @steffen cbind("mean"=mperage,"stdev"=stperage) gives no 'group' column. Will be joining by cbind(group=levels(factor(data$group)),"mean"=mperage,"stdev"=stperage) correct? Mar 13, 2011 at 12:51 Use the sqldf package. This allows you now to use SQL to summarize the data. Once you load it you can write something like - sqldf(' select group,avg(age) from data group by group ')  Here is an example with the function aggregates() I did myself some time ago: # simulates data set.seed(666) ( dat <- data.frame(group=gl(3,6), level=factor(rep(c("A","B","C"), 6)), y=round(rnorm(18,10),1)) ) > dat group level y 1 1 A 10.8 2 1 B 12.0 3 1 C 9.6 4 1 A 12.0 5 1 B 7.8 6 1 C 10.8 7 2 A 8.7 8 2 B 9.2 9 2 C 8.2 10 2 A 10.0 11 2 B 12.2 12 2 C 8.2 13 3 A 10.9 14 3 B 8.3 15 3 C 10.1 16 3 A 9.9 17 3 B 10.9 18 3 C 10.3 # aggregates() function aggregates <- function(formula, data=NULL, FUNS){ if(class(FUNS)=="list"){ f <- function(x) sapply(FUNS, function(fun) fun(x)) }else{f <- FUNS} temp <- aggregate(formula, data, f) out <- data.frame(temp[,-ncol(temp)], temp[,ncol(temp)]) colnames(out) <- colnames(temp) return(out) } # example FUNS <- function(x) c(mean=round(mean(x),0), sd=round(sd(x), 0)) ( ag <- aggregates(y~group:level, data=dat, FUNS=FUNS) )  It gives the following result: > ag group level mean sd 1 1 A 11 1 2 2 A 9 1 3 3 A 10 1 4 1 B 10 3 5 2 B 11 2 6 3 B 10 2 7 1 C 10 1 8 2 C 8 0 9 3 C 10 0  Maybe you can get the same result starting from the R function split(): > with(dat, sapply( split(y, group:level), FUNS ) ) 1:A 1:B 1:C 2:A 2:B 2:C 3:A 3:B 3:C mean 11 10 10 9 11 8 10 10 10 sd 1 3 1 1 2 0 1 2 0  Let me come back to the output of the aggregates function. You can transform it in a beautiful table using reshape(), xtabs() and ftable(): rag <- reshape(ag, varying=list(3:4), direction="long", v.names="y") rag$time <- factor(rag$time) ft <- ftable(xtabs(y~group+level+time, data=rag)) attributes(ft)$col.vars <- list(c("mean","sd"))


This gives:

> ft
mean sd
group level
1     A        11  1
B        10  3
C        10  1
2     A         9  1
B        11  2
C         8  0
3     A        10  1
B        10  2
C        10  0


Beautiful, isn't it? You can export this table to a pdf with the textplot() function of the gplots` package.

See here for others' solutions.