Examples of How To Add and Delete Rows From an R Dataframe

We’re going to walk through how to add and delete rows to a data frame using R.

This article continues the examples started in our data frame tutorial. We’re using the ChickWeight data frame example which is included in the standard R distribution. You can easily get to this by typing: data(ChickWeight) in the R console. This data frame captures the weight of chickens that were fed different diets over a period of 21 days. If you can imagine someone walking around a research farm with a clipboard for an agricultural experiment, you’ve got the right idea….

This series has a couple of parts – feel free to skip ahead to the most relevant parts.

So we’ve shown you how to create and perform basic manipulations on a data frame object using R, including adding and removing data columns and calculated fields. For the next step in our tutorial, we’re going to talk about adding and removing rows.

Adding Rows To A Data Frame

For the first example, we will add rows to an existing R data frame. For example, let us suppose we collected one final measurement – day 22 – for our chicken weight data set. We would naturally want to add this into our data frame. Along the same lines, we might also be “healing” a missing data point by adding a record to fill the gap with an appropriate value (real or interpolated). In either event, we would use two R functions to make this work:

  • data.frame() – to create a data frame object holding the rows we want to append
  • rbind() – which is used to append two data frames to each other

Our code for this would look like the following:

newRow <- data.frame(weight='210',Time='22',Chick='1',Diet='1') 
ChickWeight <- rbind(ChickWeight, newRow)

We hit submit and see the following….

Indicating the process was successful. As you can see, we have inserted a row into the R dataframe immediately following the existing rows. We now have a weight value of 210 inserted for an imaginary 22nd measurement day for the first chick, who was fed diet one. If we needed to insert multiple rows in an automated fashion (for example, if web scraping), we could still use this basic mechanism within a loop, iterating our results and adding new rows to the data frame.

Deleting Rows From a Data Frame

There is a simple option to remove rows from a data frame – we can identify them by number. Continuing our example below, suppose we wished to purge row 578 (day 21 for chick 50) to address a data integrity problem. We could code this as follows:

 test <- ChickWeight[-c(578),] 

Yielding the following result.

Where, as you can see, we have surgically removed observation 578 from the sample.

For larger data removals, it is generally easier to use the methods recommended for selecting a subset.

Next up – how to merge two R data frames. Or if you want to skip ahead….