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I'm having trouble rearranging the following data frame:

dat1 <- data.frame(
    name = rep(c("firstName", "secondName"), each=4),
    numbers = rep(1:4, 2),
    value = rnorm(8)
       name  numbers      value
1  firstName       1  0.3407997
2  firstName       2 -0.7033403
3  firstName       3 -0.3795377
4  firstName       4 -0.7460474
5 secondName       1 -0.8981073
6 secondName       2 -0.3347941
7 secondName       3 -0.5013782
8 secondName       4 -0.1745357

I want to reshape it so that each unique "name" variable is a rowname, with the "values" as observations along that row and the "numbers" as colnames. Sort of like this:

     name          1          2          3         4
1  firstName  0.3407997 -0.7033403 -0.3795377 -0.7460474
5 secondName -0.8981073 -0.3347941 -0.5013782 -0.1745357

I've looked at melt and cast and a few other things, but none seem to do the job.

Best Answer:

There's very powerful new package from genius data scientists at Win-Vector (folks that made vtreat, seplyr and replyr) called cdata. It implements "coordinated data" principles described in this document and also in this blog post. The idea is that regardless how you organize your data, it should be possible to identify individual data points using a system of "data coordinates". Here's a excerpt from the recent blog post by John Mount:

The whole system is based on two primitives or operators cdata::moveValuesToRowsD() and cdata::moveValuesToColumnsD(). These operators have pivot, un-pivot, one-hot encode, transpose, moving multiple rows and columns, and many other transforms as simple special cases.

It is easy to write many different operations in terms of the cdata primitives. These operators can work-in memory or at big data scale (with databases and Apache Spark; for big data use the cdata::moveValuesToRowsN() and cdata::moveValuesToColumnsN() variants). The transforms are controlled by a control table that itself is a diagram of (or picture of) the transform.

We will first build the control table (see blog post for details) and then perform the move of data from rows to columns.

# first build the control table
pivotControlTable <- buildPivotControlTableD(table = dat1, # reference to dataset
                        columnToTakeKeysFrom = 'numbers', # this will become column headers
                        columnToTakeValuesFrom = 'value', # this contains data
                        sep="_")                          # optional for making column names
# perform the move of data to columns
dat_wide <- moveValuesToColumnsD(tallTable =  dat1, # reference to dataset
                    keyColumns = c('name'),         # this(these) column(s) should stay untouched 
                    controlTable = pivotControlTable# control table above
#>         name  numbers_1  numbers_2  numbers_3  numbers_4
#> 1  firstName  0.3407997 -0.7033403 -0.3795377 -0.7460474
#> 2 secondName -0.8981073 -0.3347941 -0.5013782 -0.1745357

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