Excel Tip : “Group By, Concatenate”

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tl;dr : Here are the two key Excel functions to insert at the top of two new columns =IF(A2=A1,D1&”, “&C2,C2) & =IF(A2<>A3,”Last”,””)
CONTEXT : Here is an interesting data cleaning problem. At my workplace, people would enter reports into a system. Although the user sees one big box to type their reports,  the information was stored in separate, sequential lines. When I exported the csv file, I have a series of reports and so each individual report is broken up into multiple line. This reminds me of computing the “group by, sum” query in SQL, but instating of summing, we are concatenating text.

Given a 2-column table, column A has reference / report ids and column B has the numerical value, but you want to summarize the values by column A’s report ids e.g. take the sum of the column B, by grouping column A (e.g. group by, summarise, sum). In this case, column B is not numerical, but it’s a string. In this case, we want to “group by, summarise, and concatenate” the text. We will show two examples : one in Excel and a faster one using an R script.
KEY QUESTION: Given a two-column list (where one column is the report id and another column is the text), how can I concatenate the text together, grouping them by report id? (A third column may be needed to index and sort the lines if the list is not already sorted.)

DESIRED OUTPUT: Two column matrix with concatenated text



CATEGORY OF ANALYSIS: Excel tip, data cleaning

PREREQUISITE KNOWLEDGE: basic manipulation in R, Excel formulas and functions


VALUE ADDED: A handy function to help concatenate that text and clean up your file!

METHODOLOGY: First, one new column is created, concatenating the text from the previous row’s text column (per report id). Then, a second column is created based on report id again and makes a marker if it the row is the last of that report id. If the row is indeed the last of that grouping of the report id (remember, the report ids are sorted!) then the last entry of the concatenated text is the concatenation of all the relevant rows. The file is filtered for the marker. The R script mirrors the logic and steps in the Excel file.


First, we have our text:2_excelfile_first.png

And the report is separated into multiple lines. Boo-urns!


We introduce two columns. At the top of each column, we insert the following formulas and then bring the formula down. =IF(A2=A1,D1&”, “&C2,C2) & =IF(A2<>A3,”Last”,””)







For each row that has the marker “Last”, we can see that it is the complete concatenated text for the reference id. Then we filter formula 2’s column for the Last marker to get the rows of interest.



In R, here is our example:



df <- read.csv(“/Users/patrickroncal/Desktop/Group_By.csv”)
## re-name your columns
df$col_a <- df$Reference_ID ### change this to the main identifying file number
df$col_b <- df$Line_Number ### this is actually optional, but it’s the sequential paragraph line number for each file number
df$col_c <- df$Text ### the actual words
## function
group_by_concatenate <- function(df){
df$col_d <- “”
df$col_e <- “”
df$col_c <- as.character(df$col_c)
for(j in 2:nrow(df)){
i <- j-1;
df[1, “col_d”] <- df[1, “col_c”];
df[j, “col_d”] <- ifelse(df[j, “col_a”] == df[i, “col_a”],
paste0(df[i, “col_d”], ” “, df[j, “col_c”]),
df[j, “col_c”]);
df[1, “col_d”] <- df[1, “col_c”];}
for(j in 2:nrow(df)){
i <- j-1;
df[nrow(df), “col_e”] <- “Last”;
df[i, “col_e”] <- ifelse(df[i, “col_a”] != df[j, “col_a”],
df <- filter(df, col_e == “Last”);
df$Full_Comment <- df$col_d
df <- subset(df, select = c(“col_a”, “Full_Comment”));
## run function
df_cleaned <- group_by_concatenate(df)


What do you think? Do you find this handy? Are there other ways to achieve the same output?



Let’s do some graph theory! (part 1)

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** For those not familiar with graph theory, please note that term “graph” does not refer to bar graphs, line graphs, etc. A graph is a specific mathematical object of nodes/vertices and edge. You can visualize a graph a lot like a network.**

KEY QUESTION: Given a two-column list representing pairs of vertices of an edge, or given an adjacency matrix, how can I visualize them as a (network) graph?



ESTIMATED SCRIPT TIME: less than 4 hours

CATEGORY OF ANALYSIS: Graph theory, social network analysis, data visualization

PREREQUISITE KNOWLEDGE: Graph theory, basic manipulation in R


CONTEXT AND DESCRIPTION: You have either a two-column list representing pairs of vertices of an edge or an adjacency matrix, which usually represents some sort of (network) graph.

Maybe a vertex represents a person and an edge represents a relationship i.e. a social network. Maybe you want to organize the graph as a cycle or as a tree. Maybe you want to perform calculations like betweeness centrality or degree centrality.

Before doing any of that, we will first plot the graph and do some basic visual manipulations. In this example, we will start out with writing our own small network in the R console.

VALUE ADDED: As with most of my introductory examples, this particular script and this particular data set are both very simple, and do not lend themselves to a lot of analysis. This is however the foundational script and building block for more complex analyses to be explored later on. Coupled with other data sets and additional functions, a lot more powerful and insightful analyses can be made later on.

In general, a social network analysis offers many benefits. Many technical and non-technical people can interpret and digest the information in the graph visualization very easily. Most importantly, the vertices in a graph illustrates which players are central or significant players. We can even change the size of the nodes to further emphasize which vertex is more significant.

METHODOLOGY: The key idea is to load your dataset and then convert the edges or the adjacency matrix into a graph object. From there, many functions can be applied on your graph object. Again, in this example, we will start out with writing our own small network in the R console.

Here is the script:


Figure 1: R script of igraph script

igraph script


And voila! Here is one of the outputted graphs:

File for Graph


Notice the direction of the edges and compare that to your script. Notice how the edges will change when you change “directed” to  FALSE.

This is the first post for our igraph series. Later, we will load in more complicated files and begin to use more of the manipulation functions and calculation functions.