Chapter 24 NA NaN Inf NULL

24.1 Notations of NA NaN Inf

To express the value of Inf -Inf NaN in Rcpp, use the symbol R_PosInf R_NegInf R_NaN.

R Rcpp
Inf R_PosInf
-Inf R_NegInf

On the other hand, for NA, different symbol of NA are defined for each Vector type.

Vector symbol of NA
NumericVector NA_REAL
IntegerVector NA_INTEGER
LogicalVector NA_LOGICAL
CharacterVector NA_STRING

The following code example shows how to use these symbols to create Vector object.

NumericVector   v1 = NumericVector::create( 1, NA_REAL, R_NaN, R_PosInf, R_NegInf);
IntegerVector   v2 = IntegerVector::create( 1, NA_INTEGER);
CharacterVector v3 = CharacterVector::create( "A", NA_STRING);
LogicalVector   v4 = LogicalVector::create( true, NA_LOGICAL);

24.2 Evaluating NA NaN Inf

24.2.1 Evaluating all the elements of a vector at once

To evaluate all the NA NaN Inf -Inf elements in a vector at once, use the function is_na() is_nan() is_infinite().

In the code example below, we create a vector containing NA NaN Inf -Inf and evaluate it. From this example we can see that the is_na() evaluates both NA andNaN as TRUE (same as R’s

NumericVector v =
    NumericVector::create( 1, NA_REAL, R_NaN, R_PosInf, R_NegInf);
LogicalVector l1 = is_na(v);
LogicalVector l2 = is_nan(v);
LogicalVector l3 = is_infinite(v);
Rcout << l1 << "\n"; // 0 1 1 0 0
Rcout << l2 << "\n"; // 0 0 1 0 0
Rcout << l3 << "\n"; // 0 0 0 1 1

You can remove NA NaN Inf from a vector by using these functions. You can also use na_omit() to remove NA.

The code example below shows how to remove NA from a vector using the is_na() and na_omit().

// Creating a Vector object containg NA
NumericVector v =
    NumericVector::create( 1, NA_REAL, 2, NA_REAL, 3);

// Removeing NA from the vector
NumericVector v1 = v[!is_na(v)];
NumericVector v2 = na_omit(v);

24.2.2 Evaluating single element of a vector

If you want to evaluate NA NaN Inf -Inf on single element of a vector, use the static member function Vector::is_na(), traits::is_nan<RTYPE>(), traits:: is_infinite<RTYPE>(). In RTYPE, specify SEXPTYPE of the vector to be evaluated.

// [[Rcpp::export]]
void rcpp_is_na2() {

    // Creating Vector object containing NA NaN Inf -Inf
    NumericVector v =
        NumericVector::create(1, NA_REAL, R_NaN, R_PosInf, R_NegInf);

    // Evaluating the value for each element of the vector
    int n = v.length();
    for (int i = 0; i < n; ++i) {
            Rprintf("v[%i] is NA.\n", i);
            Rprintf("v[%i] is NaN.\n", i);
            Rprintf("v[%i] is Inf or -Inf.\n", i);

Here is the list of SEXPTYPE of the major Vector class.

LGLSXP LogicalVector
INTSXP IntegerVector
REALSXP NumericVector
CPLXSXP ComplexVector
STRSXP CharacterVector (StringVector)

24.3 NULL

You use R_NilValue to handleNULL in Rcpp. The code example below shows how to check NULL in the elements of a List object and how to assign NULL to clear the value of an attribute.

// [[Rcpp::export]]
List rcpp_list()
    // Create a List object with element names
    // One of the two elements is NULL
    List L = List::create(Named("x",NumericVector({1,2,3})),

    // Checking NULL
    for(int i=0; i<L.length(); ++i){
        if(L[i]==R_NilValue) {
            Rprintf("L[%i] is NULL.\n\n", i+1);

    // Delete the value of the attribute (element name) of the object
    L.attr("names") = R_NilValue;


Execution result

> rcpp_list()
L[2] is NULL.

[1] 1 2 3


24.4 Points to note when handling NA with Rcpp

Internally NA_INTEGER and NA_LOGICAL are equivalent to the minimum value of int (-2147483648). Although, functions and operators defined in Rcpp handle the minimum value of int appropriately asNA (that is, make the result of operation on NA element as NA). Standard C++ functions and operators treat the minimum value of int as integer value. So if you add 1 to NA_INTEGER, the element is no longer minimum value of int, so it is not treated as NA.

In addition, if you assign NA_LOGICAL to bool type, it will always be evaluated as true. This is because bool evaluates all numbers other than 0 as true.

On the other hand, since nan and inf are defined in double, the result of the operation on nan inf in standard C ++ will be the same result as R.

The table below summarizes how values are evaluated when assigning the value of NA Inf -Inf NaN to Vector or scalar type in C++.

NA NaN Inf -Inf
NumericVector NA_REAL R_NaN R_PosInf R_NegInf
CharacterVector NA_STRING “NaN” “Inf” “-Inf”
String NA_STRING “NaN” “Inf” “-Inf”
double nan nan inf -inf
int -2147483648 -2147483648 -2147483648 -2147483648
bool true true true true

The code example below shows the difference in results when computing using the Rcpp operator and the standard C++ operator against NA_INTEGER. From this result, the operator of Rcpp evaluates the result of the operation on NA as NA, but you can see that the standard C++ operator treats NA_INTEGER as just a integer value.

// [[Rcpp::export]]
List rcpp_na_sum(){

    // Creating an integer vector containing NA
    IntegerVector v1  = IntegerVector::create(1,NA_INTEGER,3);

    // Applying the "+" operator between vector and scalar defined in Rcpp
    IntegerVector res1 = v1 + 1;

    // Applying the "+" operator between int and int defined in standard C++
    IntegerVector res2(3);
    for(int i=0; i<v1.length(); ++i){
        res2[i] = v1[i] + 1;

    // Outputing the result as named list
    return List::create(Named("Rcpp plus", res1),
                        Named("C++  plus", res2));

Execution result

> rcpp_na_sum()
$`Rcpp plus`
[1]  2 NA  4

$`C++  plus`
[1]  2 -2147483647 4