How to convert a factor variable to a numeric variable


  R Interview Questions

Converting factors to numeric or character values and vice-versa is used in a variety of cases.

Factor to String

> str(iris)
'data.frame':    150 obs. of  5 variables:
 $ Sepal.Length: num  5.1 4.9 4.7 4.6 5 5.4 4.6 5 4.4 4.9 ...
 $ Sepal.Width : num  3.5 3 3.2 3.1 3.6 3.9 3.4 3.4 2.9 3.1 ...
 $ Petal.Length: num  1.4 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.5 ...
 $ Petal.Width : num  0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 ...
 $ Species     : Factor w/ 3 levels "setosa","versicolor",..: 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ...

Let’s convert the Species column from factor to string

> iris_1 = iris
> iris_1$Species = as.character(iris$Species)
> str(iris_1)
'data.frame':    150 obs. of  5 variables:
 $ Sepal.Length: num  5.1 4.9 4.7 4.6 5 5.4 4.6 5 4.4 4.9 ...
 $ Sepal.Width : num  3.5 3 3.2 3.1 3.6 3.9 3.4 3.4 2.9 3.1 ...
 $ Petal.Length: num  1.4 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.5 ...
 $ Petal.Width : num  0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 ...
 $ Species     : chr  "setosa" "setosa" "setosa" "setosa" ...

String to Factor

Let’s revert to the original factor based iris dataset.

> iris_2 = iris_1
> iris_2$Species = as.factor(iris$Species)
> str(iris_2)
'data.frame':    150 obs. of  5 variables:
 $ Sepal.Length: num  5.1 4.9 4.7 4.6 5 5.4 4.6 5 4.4 4.9 ...
 $ Sepal.Width : num  3.5 3 3.2 3.1 3.6 3.9 3.4 3.4 2.9 3.1 ...
 $ Petal.Length: num  1.4 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.5 ...
 $ Petal.Width : num  0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 ...
 $ Species     : Factor w/ 3 levels "setosa","versicolor",..: 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ...

Factor to Numeric

> iris_3 = iris
> iris_3$Species = as.numeric(iris$Species)
> iris_3
    Sepal.Length Sepal.Width Petal.Length Petal.Width Species
1            5.1         3.5          1.4         0.2       1
2            4.9         3.0          1.4         0.2       1
3            4.7         3.2          1.3         0.2       1
4            4.6         3.1          1.5         0.2       1

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