Count Non-Zero Values in Vector & Data Frame Columns in R (2 Examples)


In this tutorial, I’ll show how to get the number of non-zero values in the R programming language.

Table of contents:

Here’s the step-by-step process:


Example 1: Count Non-Zero Values in Vector Object

This example shows how to return the number of non-zero values in a vector.

Consider the following example vector in R:

vec <- c(3, 0, 0, 4, 1, 0, 2, 0, 3)                # Create example vector
vec                                                # Print example vector
# [1] 3 0 0 4 1 0 2 0 3

If we now want to count the number of values unequal to zero, we can use the != operator and the sum function as shown below:

sum(vec != 0)                                      # Count non-zeros
# [1] 5

The RStudio console returns the value 5, i.e. five elements of our vector are unequal to zero.


Example 2: Count Non-Zero Values in Each Data Frame Column

In Example 2, I’ll explain how to count the number of non-zero values in each column of a data frame.

Let’s create some example data:

data <- data.frame(x1 = c(0, 1, 3, 1, 0, 0, 2),    # Create example data frame
                   x2 = c(4, 4, 4, 0, 4, 0, 4),
                   x3 = 0)
data                                               # Print example data frame


table 1 data frame count non zero values


The output of the previous syntax is shown in Table 1: We have created a data frame with seven rows and three columns.

Next, we can apply the != operator in combination with the colSums function to return the number of non-zero values in each variable of our data frame:

colSums(data != 0)                                 # Count non-zeros
# x1 x2 x3 
#  4  5  0

The column x1 contains four non-zero values, the column x2 contains five values that are not equal to zero, and the column x3 contains only zeros.


Video, Further Resources & Summary

If you need further information on the R programming syntax of this article, I recommend having a look at the following video that I have published on my YouTube channel. I illustrate the contents of this article in the video.



Also, you might read the related articles on my website. A selection of articles can be found below.


In this tutorial you have learned how to count non-zeros in vectors and data frame columns in the R programming language. Tell me about it in the comments, in case you have any additional questions.


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