get absolute value for a vector in R

Get the Absolute Value in R using abs()

In this tutorial, we will look at how to get the absolute value for a variable (or values in a vector) in R with the help of some examples.

How to get the absolute value of a number in R?

You can use the built-in math function abs() to get the absolute value (magnitude without the sign) of a number in R. Pass the number for which you want to get the absolute value as an argument to the abs() function. The following is the syntax –


It returns the number without any sign. That is, if you pass a negative number, it will return the number without the negative sign and if you pass a positive number, it will return the same number.

Note that you can apply the abs() function to a vector, array, matrix, and a dataframe as well.


Let’s look at some examples of using the abs() function in R.

Apply the abs() function to a number

Let’s apply the abs() function directly to a positive and a negative number of the same magnitude, for example, 5 and -5, and compare the output.

# absolute value of a positive number
# absolute value of a negative number


[1] 5
[1] 5

We get the absolute value (5, in this example) without any sign in both cases.

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Apply the abs() function to a numeric vector

You can similarly apply the abs() function to a vector in R. Note that individual values in R can be regarded as a vector of length one. If you apply the abs() function to a numeric vector, it will compute the absolute value for each value in the vector.

Let’s look at an example.

# absolute value of a vector
vec <- c(1, -2, 3, -4, -5)


[1] 1 2 3 4 5

You can see that we get a vector with absolute values for each value in the passed vector. The positive values are unchanged whereas for the negative values we get the corresponding absolute value (without the sign).

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  • Piyush Raj

    Piyush is a data professional passionate about using data to understand things better and make informed decisions. He has experience working as a Data Scientist in the consulting domain and holds an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. His hobbies include watching cricket, reading, and working on side projects.

  • Gottumukkala Sravan Kumar
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