R lapply statement with index


This question already has an answer here:


The function mapply works like lapply but allows you to supply multiple vectors or lists.

In your case you can create a second vector, the same length of the list, just counting up:

mapply(myfunction, mylist, seq_along(mylist))

Let's try it:

myfunction<- function(values, index){ 
  cat("Adding values (", index, "): ", values[1], "...", values[2], " = ", sum(values), "\n" )
  invisible(values[1] + values[2])

mylist <- list(c(5, 4), c(3, 2), c(1, 3))

mapply(myfunction, mylist, seq_along(mylist))


Adding values ( 1 ):  5 ... 4  =  9 
Adding values ( 2 ):  3 ... 2  =  5 
Adding values ( 3 ):  1 ... 3  =  4 

Advanced user fun

Just for fun, a careful reading of the ?lapply manual page reveals that the following also works:

myfunction<- function(values){
    print(sprintf("Adding values: %i",substitute(values)[[3]]))
    return(values[1] + values[2])

lapply(mylist, myfunction)

Which suggests a general function adaptor could be created to supply index to your original function (or any other), modified to expect a second index argument:

myfunction<- function(values,index){
    print(sprintf("Adding values: %i",index))
    return(values[1] + values[2])

Now the adaptor


and now the lapply call, with the adaptor:

lapply(mylist, lapply_index_adaptor(myfunction))

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