What does %>% mean in R [duplicate]

The infix operator %>% is not part of base R, but is in fact defined by the package magrittr (CRAN) and is heavily used by dplyr (CRAN).

It works like a pipe, hence the reference to Magritte’s famous painting The Treachery of Images.

What the function does is to pass the left hand side of the operator to the first argument of the right hand side of the operator. In the following example, the data frame iris gets passed to head():

iris %>% head()
  Sepal.Length Sepal.Width Petal.Length Petal.Width Species
1          5.1         3.5          1.4         0.2  setosa
2          4.9         3.0          1.4         0.2  setosa
3          4.7         3.2          1.3         0.2  setosa
4          4.6         3.1          1.5         0.2  setosa
5          5.0         3.6          1.4         0.2  setosa
6          5.4         3.9          1.7         0.4  setosa

Thus, iris %>% head() is equivalent to head(iris).

Often, %>% is called multiple times to “chain” functions together, which accomplishes the same result as nesting. For example in the chain below, iris is passed to head(), then the result of that is passed to summary().

iris %>% head() %>% summary()

Thus iris %>% head() %>% summary() is equivalent to summary(head(iris)). Some people prefer chaining to nesting because the functions applied can be read from left to right rather than from inside out.

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