I have a function that finds the most frequent level of string and factor variables. This is used in a data.table aggregation on Big Data, for non-numeric columns.

Right now the overall aggregation runs extremely slow. I'm trying to make improvements in other aspects as well (reducing observations and columns, etc) and I would like to see if there's a want to improve this function:

MaxTable <- function(InVec, mult = FALSE) {
  if (!is.factor(InVec)) InVec <- factor(InVec)
  A <- tabulate(InVec)
  if (isTRUE(mult)) {
    levels(InVec)[A == max(A)]
  else levels(InVec)[which.max(A)]

1 Answer 1


Your function isn't very complicated so I don't know how much more efficient you can get. However, maybe removing the if and else states may help. How about something like this?


# Sample Data
dat <- c("a", "a", "b", "c", "d","a", "a", "b", "c", "d","a", "a", "b", "c", "d","a", "a", "b", "c", "d","a", "a", "b", "c", "d")

# Mode function
MaxTable <- function(x){
     dd <- unique(x)


> MaxTable(dat)

[1] "a"

How many variables are you trying to process? You may want to think about writing a function that splits up the number of obs. for parallel processing, tabulate the mode for each section, merge each section, and then do which.max() . Although, I'm not sure if you are reaching the limits of R. Also, maybe a database such as mysql would be another option.


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