# Return Column Name of Largest Value for Each Row in R (Example)

This tutorial illustrates how to find the variables with the largest values in each row in the R programming language.

The content of the post looks as follows:

Letâ€™s start right away!

## Example Data

First, weâ€™ll need to create some example data:

data <- data.frame(x1 = c(0, 1, 0, 7, 1),             # Creating example data
x2 = c(5, 0, 0, 0, 0),
x3 = 3)
data                                                  # Return example data
# x1 x2 x3
# 1  0  5  3
# 2  1  0  3
# 3  0  0  3
# 4  7  0  3
# 5  1  0  3

Have a look at the previous output of the RStudio console. It shows that our example data consists of five rows and three numeric columns.

## Example: Return Column Names with Highest Number in Row Using colnames & max.col Functions

In this Example, Iâ€™ll explain how to find the variable names with the largest value by row. For this, we are using the colnames and the max.col functions as shown below:

colnames(data)[max.col(data, ties.method = "first")]  # Apply colnames & max.col functions
# "x2" "x3" "x3" "x1" "x3"

The previous R code returns a character vector containing the column names of the largest values of each row. Looks good!

## Video, Further Resources & Summary

Do you want to learn more about data inspection in R? Then you may watch the following video of my YouTube channel. In the video instruction, Iâ€™m explaining the R programming code of this article.

Besides that, you could read the related articles on www.statisticsglobe.com. A selection of articles about data manipulation and analysis can be found below:

In this tutorial you learned how to identify the highest numbers within each line of a data frame in R programming. Let me know in the comments section, in case you have further comments or questions.

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• Abigail Drummond
June 15, 2021 6:05 pm

Hi, I am trying to do this but each time it returns a column that is a character, rather than the numeric columns. How can I fix this? Thanks.

• Hey Abigail,

Thank you for the comment!

Could you illustrate how your data looks like and could you share the code you have used?

Regards

Joachim

• Jan MÃ¼ller
June 15, 2022 11:48 am

Thanks already for your tutorial, how do I use this code if i want only specific columns? LetÂ´s say column 4-19?
Thanks so much!