I have a Dataset that requires some cleaning. Let's consider this data:

data = Dataset[{<|"ID" -> "1", "Name" -> "Bob", 
    "Hobbies" -> "cycling, soccer, cooking"|>, <|"ID" -> "2", 
    "Name" -> "Bill", "Hobbies" -> "television, gaming, tech"|>, <|
    "ID" -> "3", "Name" -> "Bob", 
    "Hobbies" -> "reading, writing, juggling"|>}]

Most of it is relatively easy such as turning strings into integers. However, some of columns require multiple functions that may use multiple arguments. If I want to change the ID field into an integer, I can simply write this:

reviseddata = data[All, {"ID" -> ToExpression}]

However, this won't work when I need to use multiple arguments for a function such as StringTrim.

I originally tried this, but I get a failure:

reviseddata = 
 data[All, {"Hobbies" -> StringTrim[StringSplit[#, ","]] &}]

This code will perform the functions correctly, but I ended up with a list of rules instead of the full dataset:

reviseddata = 
 data[All, {"Hobbies" -> StringTrim[StringSplit[#"Hobbies", ","]] &}]

I tried following the advice in this thread, but still ran into issues.

I know I can pull the column, do the functions on all elements, then replace the column, but I was hoping to work within this same syntax for simplicity since I am actually dealing with several similarly formatted datasets.

I am sure it is something obvious that I have missed. Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you tried: reviseddata = data[All, <|#, "Hobbies" -> StringTrim[StringSplit[#Hobbies, ","]]|> &] ? I think this may do what you are hoping. $\endgroup$
    – Mark R
    Jun 27, 2019 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkR, That is perfect. Syntax changes a bit, but I can run all changes in one line of code, which is what I was looking for. reviseddata = data[All, <|#, {"ID" -> ToString[#"ID"], "Hobbies" -> StringTrim[StringSplit[#"Hobbies", ","]]}|> &] $\endgroup$
    – kickert
    Jun 27, 2019 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


I think you're just discoverring that & has very low precedence. Consider:

a -> b& //FullForm


The precedence of & is lower than the precedence of "->". So, to fix things, include parentheses:

reviseddata = data[All, {"Hobbies" -> (StringTrim[StringSplit[#, ","]] &)}]

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Carl Woll, I could have sworn I tried that syntax, but apparently not. $\endgroup$
    – kickert
    Jun 28, 2019 at 0:21

Having used Carl's suggestion in my initial work, I eventually found that creating a defined function was the most efficient option (especially if you are going to use it more than once).


reviseddata = 
 data[All, {"Hobbies" -> stringToList}]

While Carl's answer certainly answers my question directly, for future readers, I would recommend the defined function.


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