[Solved] How to read specific rows of CSV file with fread function

I have a big CSV file of doubles (10 million by 500) and I only want to read in a few thousand rows of this file (at various locations between 1 and 10 million), defined by a binary vector V of length 10 million, which assumes value 0 if I don’t want to read the row and 1 if I do want to read the row.

How do I get the io function fread from the data.table package to do this? I ask because fread is so so fast compared to all other io approaches.

The best solution this question, Reading specific rows of large matrix data file, gives the following solution:

read.csv( pipe( paste0("sed -n '" , paste0( c( 1 , which( V == 1 ) + 1 ) , collapse = "p; " ) , "p' C:/Data/target.csv" , collapse = "" ) ) , head=TRUE)

where C:/Data/target.csv is the large CSV file and V is the vector of 0 or 1.

However I have noticed that this is orders of magnitude slower than simply using fread on the entire matrix, even if the V will only be equal to 1 for a small subset of the total number of rows.

Thus, since fread on the whole matrix will dominate the above solution, how do I combine fread (and specifically fread) with row sampling?

This is not a duplicate because it is only about the function fread.

Here’s my problem setup:

 #create csv
 csv <- do.call(rbind,lapply(1:50,function(i) { rnorm(5) }))
 #my csv has a header:
 colnames(csv) <- LETTERS[1:5]
 #save csv
 #create vector of 0s and 1s that I want to read the CSV from
 read_vec <- rep(0,50)
 read_vec[c(1,5,29)] <- 1 #I only want to read in 1st,5th,29th rows
 #the following is the effect that I want, but I want an efficient approach to it:
 csv <- read.csv("/home/user/test_csv.csv") #inefficient!
 csv <- csv[which(read_vec==1),] #inefficient!
 #the alternative approach, too slow when scaled up!
 csv <- fread( pipe( paste0("sed -n '" , paste0( c( 1 , which( read_vec == 1 ) + 1 ) , collapse = "p; " ) , "p' /home/user/test_csv.csv" , collapse = "" ) ) , head=TRUE)
 #the fastest approach yet still not optimal because it needs to read all rows
 csv <- data.matrix(fread('/home/user/test_csv.csv'))
 csv <- csv[which(read_vec==1),] 

Solution #1:

This approach takes a vector v (corresponding to your read_vec), identifies sequences of rows to read, feeds those to sequential calls to fread(...), and rbinds the result together.

If the rows you want are randomly distributed throughout the file, this may not be faster. However, if the rows are in blocks (e.g., c(1:50, 55, 70, 100:500, 700:1500)) then there will be few calls to fread(...) and you may see a significant improvement.

# create sample dataset
m   <- matrix(rnorm(1e5),ncol=10)
csv <- data.frame(x=1:1e4,m)
# s: rows we want to read
s <- c(1:50,53, 65,77,90,100:200,350:500, 5000:6000)
# v: logical, T means read this row (equivalent to your read_vec)
v <- (1:1e4 %in% s)

seq  <- rle(v)
idx  <- c(0, cumsum(seq$lengths))[which(seq$values)] + 1
# indx: start = starting row of sequence, length = length of sequence (compare to s)
indx <- data.frame(start=idx, length=seq$length[which(seq$values)])

result <- do.call(rbind,apply(indx,1, function(x) return(fread("test.csv",nrows=x[2],skip=x[1]))))
Respondent: jlhoward

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