Julia type that implements a drop-in replacement of Array with named dimensions



Julia type that implements a drop-in replacement of Array with named dimensions.

Build Status NamedArrays NamedArrays Coverage Status


We would want to have the possibility to give each row/column/... in an Array names, as well as the array dimensions themselves. This could be used for pretty-printing, indexing, and perhaps even some sort of dimension-checking in certain matrix computations.

In all other respects, a NamedArray should be the same as an Array.


using NamedArrays
n = NamedArray(rand(2,4))
setnames!(n, ["one", "two"], 1)         # give the names "one" and "two" to the rows (dimension 1)
n["one", 2:3]
n["two", :] = 11:14
n[Not("two"), :] = 4:7                      # all rows but the one called "two"


# NamedArray(a::Array)
x = NamedArray([1 2; 3 4])
# NamedArray{T}(dims...)
x = NamedArray{Int}(2, 2)

these constructors add default names to the array of type String, "1", "2", ... for each dimension, and names the dimensions :A, :B, ... (which will be all right for 26 dimensions to start with; 26 dimensions should be enough for anyone:-). The former initializes the NamedArray with the Array a, the latter makes an uninitialized NamedArray of element type T with the specified dimensions dims....

# NamedArray{T,N}(a::Array{T,N}, names::NTuple{N,Dict}, dimnames::NTuple{N})
x = NamedArray([1 3; 2 4], ( ["A"=>1,"B"=>2], ["C"=>1,"D"=>2] ), ("ROWS","COLS"))

This is the basic constructor for a namedarray. names must be a tuple of Dicts whose range (the values) are exacly covering the range 1:size(a,dim) for each dimension dim. The keys in the various dictionaries may be of mixed types, but after initialization, the type of the names cannot be altered. dimnames specify the names of the dimensions themselves, and may be of any type.

# NamedArray{T,N}(a::Array{T,N}, names::NTuple{N,Vector}, dimnames::NTuple{N})
x = NamedArray([1 3; 2 4], ( ["A","B"], ["C","D"] ), ("ROWS","COLS"))
# NamedArray{T,N}(a::Array{T,N}, names::NTuple{N,Vector})
x = NamedArray([1 3; 2 4], ( ["A","B"], ["C","D"] ))
x = NamedArray([1, 2], ( ["A","B"], ))  # note the comma after ["A","B"] to ensure evaluation as tuple

This is a more friendly version of the basic constructor, where the range of the dictionaries is automatically assigned the values 1:size(a,dim) for the names in order. If dimnames is not specified, the default values will be used (:A, :B, etc.).

In principle, there is no limit imposed to the type of the names used, but we discourage the use of Real, AbstractArray and Range, because they have a special interpretation in getindex() and setindex.


n[1:10, Not("label")]
n[[2,4,6], ["a", "b", "d"]]

This is the main use of NamedArrays. As an index, not only integers, arrays of integer and ranges can be given, but also names (keys), arrays of keys and negations of any of any of these can be specified.

When a single element is selected by an index expression, a scalar value is returned. When an array slice is selected, an attempt is made to return a NamedArray with the correct names for the dimensions.

Negation / complement


There is a special type constructor Not(), whose function is to specify which elements to exclude from the array. This is similar to negative indices in the language R. The elements in Not(elements...) select all but the indicated elements from the array.

Both integers and names can be negated.

n[Not("one"), :]

Dictionary-style indexing

You can also use a dictionary-style indexing, if you don't want to bother about the order of the dimensions, or make a slice using a specific named dimension:

n[:B=>"b", :A=>"one"]
n[:B => "c"]

This style cannot be mixed with other indexing styles, yet.


Most index types can be used for assignment as LHS

n[1,1] = 0
n["one", "b"] = 1
n[:,"c"] = 1:4
n[:B=>"c", :A=>"two"] = 5

General functions

  • Names, dimnames allnames(a::NamedArray) names(a::NamedArray, dim) dimnames(a::NamedArray)

return the names of the indices along dimension dim and the names of the dimensions themselves.

 setnames!(a::NamedArray, names::Vector, dim::Int)
 setnames!(a::NamedArray, name, dim::Int, index:Int)
 setdimnames!(a::NamedArray, name, dim:Int)

sets all the names of dimension dim, or only the name at index index, or the name of the dimension dim.

  • Copy copy(a::NamedArray)

returns a copy of all the elements in a, and returns a NamedArray

  • Convert convert(::Type{Array}, a::NamedArray)

converts a NamedArray to an Array by dropping all name information

  • Arithmetic:

    • between NamedArray and NamedArray
    • between NamedArray and Array
    • between NamedArray and Number
    • +, -, .+, .-, .*, ./
    • between NamedArray and Number
    • *, /, \
    • Matrix Multiplication * between NamedArray and NamedArray
  • print, show:

    • basic printing, limited support for pretty-printing.
  • size, ndims, eltype

  • Similar

    similar(a::NamedArray, t::DataType, dims::NTuple)

Methods with special treatment of names / dimnames

  • Concatenation hcat(V::NamedVector...)

concatenates (column) vectors to an array. If the names are identical for all vectors, these are retained in the results. Otherwise the names are reinitialized to the default "1", "2", ...

  • Transposition ' ## transpose post-fix operator ' ctranspose transpose permutedims circshift

operate on the dimnames as well

  • Reordering of dimensions in NamedVectors nthperm nthperm! permute! shuffle shuffle! reverse reverse!

operate on the names of the rows as well

  • Broadcasts broadcast broadcast!

these functions check consistency of the names of dimensions d with length(d)>1, and performs the normal broadcast

  • Aggregates sum prod maximum minimum mean std

These functions, when operating along one dimension, keep the names in the orther dimensions, and name the left over singleton dimension as $function($dimname).


Currently, the type is defined as

type NamedArray{T,N,AT,DT} <: AbstractArray{T,N}
    dimnames::NTuple{N, Any}

but the inner constructor actually expects NTuples for dicts and dimnames, which more easily allows somewhat stricter typechecking. This is sometimes a bit annoying, if you want to initialize a new NamedArray from known dicts and dimnames. You can use the expression tuple(Vector...) for that.

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