Logical Values in R

There are only two logical values, TRUE and FALSE. They can be interpreted as yes/no, on/off, satisified/not satisfied, or any option corresponding to a binary choice. In R, if desired, we can abbreviate TRUE with T and FALSE with F.

Logicals often indicate if a given condition is true or false. For example, a logical could characterize whether or not for a given car, its miles per gallon is greater than eighteen. If we suppose that the miles per gallon for a given car has been stored in a one-element vector named mpg, we could write this condition as mpg > 18. As such, depending on the value of mpg, the expression mpg > 18 will evaluate to either a TRUE or a FALSE. Similar to how "+", "-","*", and "/" are all considered to be arithmetic operators as they combine two given numerical values and produce a numerical value, we call ">" a relational operator, because it combines two numerical values and produces a logical value.

The table below summarizes some of the relational operators available for use in R:

operatorinterpretation
==Equal to
!=Not equal to
>Greater than
<Less than
<=Less than or equal to
>=Greater than or equal to

How these relational operators work should not be terribly surprising, but the below gives some examples of their use:

> a = 1
> b = 2
> b >= a
[1]  TRUE

> c(1,2,3,4,5) < c(5,4,3,2,1)
[1]  TRUE  TRUE FALSE FALSE FALSE

> c(1,2,3,4,5) == c(5,4,3,2,1)
[1]  FALSE FALSE TRUE FALSE FALSE

One can also combine logical values to produce other logical values. Not surprisingly, operators that do this are called logical operators. The table below summarizes some of these operators.

operatorinterpretationresults
!NOT! TRUE == FALSE
! FALSE == TRUE
&AND
(element-wise)
TRUE & TRUE == TRUE
TRUE & FALSE == FALSE
FALSE & TRUE == FALSE
FALSE & FALSE == FALSE
&&AND
(single comparison)
Same as & above
|OR
(element-wise)
TRUE | TRUE == TRUE
TRUE | FALSE == TRUE
FALSE | TRUE == TRUE
FALSE | FALSE == FALSE
||OR
(single comparision)
Same as | above

The difference between element-wise and single comparison can be seen in the examples below. The former results in a vector of logical values -- one for each pair of logicals combined. The latter compares only the first two elements of the vectors involved, and consequently returns a single logical value.

> c(TRUE,TRUE,FALSE,FALSE) | c(TRUE,FALSE,FALSE,TRUE)
[1]  TRUE  TRUE FALSE  TRUE

> c(TRUE,TRUE,FALSE,FALSE) || c(TRUE,FALSE,FALSE,TRUE)
[1] TRUE

There are many functions that produce logical values or vectors of logical values as well.

To decide if a vector of logical values contains any TRUE values, we can use the any() function:

> v = c(FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, TRUE, TRUE, FALSE)
> any(v)
[1] TRUE
> w = c(FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE)
> any(w)
[1] FALSE

To decide if all of the logical values contained by a vector are true, we can use the all() function:

> v = c(FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, TRUE, TRUE, FALSE)
> all(v)
[1] FALSE
> w = c(TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE)
> all(w)
[1] TRUE

To decide if any element in a vector is a duplicate of an earlier element in that vector, one can use the duplicated function:

> duplicated(c(1,3,5,5,7,2,3))
[1] FALSE FALSE FALSE  TRUE FALSE FALSE  TRUE

One of the more important aspects of logical values in R lies in their ability to be used to subset elements. For example, suppose you had a vector of data values and you wanted to throw out any values greater than 10 or less than 5. With this in mind, consider the following:

> data = c(2,3,6,6,9,8,7,1,3,7,6,9,5,10,10,12,4,5,6,0,19)
> dataAfterRemoval = data[(data >= 5) & (data <= 10)]
> dataAfterRemoval
[1] 6 6 9 8 7 7 6 9 5 10 10 5 6

Related to this, you can also ask R which elements of a given vector adhere to a given condition using the which() function, as the next example demonstrates:

> data = c(2,3,6,6,9,8,7,1,3,7,6,9,5,10,10,12,4,5,6,0,19)
> positionsOfThoseLessThanFive = which(data<5)
[1]  1  2  8  9 17 20

The other really big application of logical values is related to their use in conditional statements. We delay the full discussion of conditional statements for the moment, but give an example of $\textrm{ifelse}(v, x, y)$, a related function. This function results in a vector the same length as $v$, whose $i^{th}$ element is determined by $x$ if the $i^{th}$ element of $v$ is TRUE, and by $y$ otherwise.

As an example, consider the following (recall that a %% 2 is the remainder upon division of $a$ by $2$, so the condition seen below of a %% 2 == 0 is TRUE when $a$ is even and FALSE otherwise).

> a = c(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9)
> ifelse(a %% 2 == 0, a / 2, 3*a+1)
[1]  4  1 10  2 16  3 22  4 28