The R programming language comes with a number of helpful functions to work with the data stored in data structures like vectors, lists, dataframes, etc. In this tutorial, we will look at one such function that helps us get the maximum value in a column of an R dataframe.

## How to get the max value in an R dataframe column?

You can use the built-in `max()`

function in R to compute the maximum value in a dataframe column. Pass the column values as an argument to the function.

The following is the syntax –

max(dataframe[[column_name]])

Pass `na.rm=TRUE`

to avoid the `NA`

values when computing the maximum.

It returns the maximum value in the passed column.

## Steps to calculate the maximum value in an R column

Let’s now look at a step-by-step example of using the above syntax to compute the max value of a numeric column in R.

### Step 1 – Create a dataframe

First, we will create an R dataframe that we will be using throughout this tutorial.

# create a dataframe employees_df = data.frame( "Name"= c("Jim", "Dwight", "Angela", "Tobi", "Kevin"), "Age"= c(26, 28, 29, 32, 30), "Department"= c("Sales", "Sales", "Accounting", "HR", "Accounting"), "Salary" = c(80000, 81000, 72000, 65000, 72000) ) # display the dataframe print(employees_df)

Output:

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Name Age Department Salary 1 Jim 26 Sales 80000 2 Dwight 28 Sales 81000 3 Angela 29 Accounting 72000 4 Tobi 32 HR 65000 5 Kevin 30 Accounting 72000

We now have a dataframe containing information about some employees in an office. The dataframe has the columns – “Name”, “Age”, “Department”, and “Salary”.

### Step 2 – Calculate the maximum in a column using the `max()`

function

To calculate the maximum value in a column, pass the column values as an argument to the `max()`

function. You can use the `[[]]`

notation to access the values of a column.

Let’s compute the maximum salary from the above data. That is, we want to know the max value in the “Salary” column.

# max value in "Salary" column max_salary = max(employees_df[["Salary"]]) # display the max salary print(max_salary)

Output:

[1] 81000

The maximum value in the “Salary” column is 81000.

## Maximum value of a column with `NA`

values in R

What if there are `NA`

values in a column?

Let’s find out.

# create a dataframe employees_df = data.frame( "Name"= c("Jim", "Dwight", "Angela", "Tobi", "Kevin"), "Age"= c(26, 28, 29, 32, 30), "Department"= c("Sales", "Sales", "Accounting", "HR", "Accounting"), "Salary" = c(80000, 81000, 72000, NA, 72000) ) # display the dataframe print(employees_df)

Output:

Name Age Department Salary 1 Jim 26 Sales 80000 2 Dwight 28 Sales 81000 3 Angela 29 Accounting 72000 4 Tobi 32 HR NA 5 Kevin 30 Accounting 72000

Here, we created a new dataframe such that the “Salary” column contains some `NA`

values.

Now, let’s apply the `max()`

function to get the maximum value in the “Salary” column.

# max value in "Salary" column max_salary = max(employees_df[["Salary"]]) # display the max salary print(max_salary)

Output:

[1] NA

We get `NA`

as the max value. This happened because the “Salary” column here contains `NA`

values and performing any mathematical operation with `NA`

results in an `NA`

in R.

If you want to compute the max value in a column with `NA`

values, pass `na.rm=TRUE`

to the `max()`

function which essentially skips these values when computing the maximum.

# max value in "Salary" column max_salary = max(employees_df[["Salary"]], na.rm=TRUE) # display the max salary print(max_salary)

Output:

[1] 81000

We now get the max value in the “Salary” column excluding the `NA`

values.

## Summary – Maximum Value in an R Column

In this tutorial, we looked at how to compute the maximum value in a column of an R dataframe. The following is a short summary of the steps –

- Create a dataframe (skip this step if you already have a dataframe on which you want to operate).
- Use the
`max()`

function to compute the maximum value in the column. Pass the column vector as an argument. - If your column contains any NA values, pass
`na.rm=TRUE`

to the max() function to calculate the maximum excluding the`NA`

values in the column.

You might also be interested in –

- How to Add a Column to a Dataframe in R?
- Sum of Values in an R Column
- R – Count Unique Values in Dataframe Column

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