Sorry, beginner here. I feel this should be simple but I'm struggling...

I'm reading a set of race timing data from a web site and want to manipulate it into a list of lists that I can then export to a CSV file for later reading into a database.

Here are three example result rows:

 d = {{50, "M370", "John Doe", "Honda", 2.24, 56, 17.26, 24.38, 33.52, 
  38.69, 45.52, 53.69, "Practice"}, {51, "M398", "Jane Doe", 
  "KTM", 2.49, 52, 57.03, 47.51, "FAIL", "Practice"}, {56, "M553", 
  "John Wayne", "Husqvarna", 2.54, 53, "FLAG", "Practice"}}

The first row (John Doe) is a normal, 13-column wide result row and I want to add a 14th column with the value "False".

The second row (Jane Doe) is an example of a 'fail' which is where the competitor crashed or came off the track. In this case I just want to change

 {51, "M398", "Jane Doe", "KTM", 2.49, 52, 57.03, 47.51, "FAIL", "Practice"}


 {51, "M398", "Jane Doe", "KTM", 2.49, 52, 57.03, 47.51, 0, 0, 0, 0, "Practice", "False"}

i.e. remove the word "Fail", insert zeros as time placeholders and set column 14 value to 'false'.

Finally, if the competitor ahead (competitors start at 30 sec intervals) has a crash then the current competitor (John Wayne) is "flagged" and they get to go again. In this case I want to do change:

{56, "M553", "John Wayne", "Husqvarna", 2.54, 53, "FLAG", "Practice"}


{56, "M553", "John Wayne", "Husqvarna", 2.54, 53, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, "Practice", "True"}

I tried using Position[d, "FLAG", 2] to find "Flag entries but I'm struggling to convert its results into something that allows me to insert the required number of dummy columns and set the final column in a reasonably elegant way.

Any suggestions, please?


3 Answers 3


It is an application of rules using If statements. You may want to use Which instead. As always while programming such conditions, the order in which these are applied is important.

raceMods[k_List] := Module[{},
  If[FreeQ[k, "FAIL"] && FreeQ[k, "FLAG"] && Length@k == 13, 
   Append[k, "False"],
   If[MemberQ[k, "FAIL"], 
    k[[1 ;; 8]]~Join~{0, 0, 0, 0}~Join~{"Practice", "False"},
    If[MemberQ[k, "FLAG"], 
     k[[1 ;; 6]]~Join~{0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}~Join~{"Practice", "True"}]


raceMods /@ d // TableForm


$$\left( \begin{array}{cccccccccccccc} 50 & \text{M370} & \text{John Doe} & \text{Honda} & 2.24 & 56 & 17.26 & 24.38 & 33.52 & 38.69 & 45.52 & 53.69 & \text{Practice} & \text{False} \\ 51 & \text{M398} & \text{Jane Doe} & \text{KTM} & 2.49 & 52 & 57.03 & 47.51 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & \text{Practice} & \text{False} \\ 56 & \text{M553} & \text{John Wayne} & \text{Husqvarna} & 2.54 & 53 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & \text{Practice} & \text{True} \\ \end{array} \right)$$

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank-you both Syed and lericr - these answers are very helpful. One thing I clearly haven't explained very well is that the FAIL/FLAG can happen in any of the columns 5 through 12. But I think I can use Position[] instead of MemberQ[] in a variation of the above to get a value to use instead of the hard coded [[ 1 ;; 8 ]] etc. I've chosen this as accepted answer but it's really close between the two - and I do appreciate the pattern matching approach from lericr. $\endgroup$
    – BruceH
    Jun 3, 2022 at 11:34

There are many ways to do this, and what is best would depend on more information about your context. I'm not sure if your example is directly from your source, or if you've already done some manipulation to get your example data. Here is an approach that allows for a great deal of control at the expense of verbosity:

NormalizeTiming[data : {_Integer, _String, _String, _String, _Real, _Integer, "FLAG", _String}] :=
 Append[Insert[data, Splice[{0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}], {6}], "True"];
NormalizeTiming[data : {_Integer, _String, _String, _String, _Real, _Integer, _Real, _Real, "FAIL", _String}] :=
  Append[Insert[data, Splice[{0, 0, 0, 0}], {6}], "False"];
NormalizeTiming[data : {_Integer, _String, _String, _String, _Real, _Integer, _Real, _Real, _Real, _Real, _Real, _Real, "Practice"}] :=
  Append[data, "False"];

You would then do

NormalizeTiming /@ d

If there are many more rules than this, then this approach would become unwieldy.

You could instead use predicates:

IsFlag[data_] := And[8 == Length@data, "FLAG" == data[[-2]]];
IsFail[data_] := And[10 == Length@data, "FAIL" == data[[-2]]];

NormalizeTiming[data_?IsFlag] := 
  Append[Insert[data, Splice[{0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}], {6}], "True"];
NormalizeTiming[data_?IsFail] := 
  Append[Insert[data, Splice[{0, 0, 0, 0}], {6}], "False"];
NormalizeTiming[data_] := Append[data, "False"];

These patterns and predicates may be overspecified or they may lack robustness (e.g. does capitalization matter?), but hopefully you get the idea.

You can try to do an all-in-one replacement that uses all of the necessary rules, but in my experience, this is difficult to maintain (i.e. when you want to add/update rules or just try to understand what you did 6 months later).

You might also want to look into Association and Dataset. If you can get your data into those kinds of structures, there are more possibilities for manipulating the data. But, as I said, more contex would be helpful before demonstrating those strategies.


Oh, so the data in the middle is all of the same "type". And also the boolean you want to append is some sort of "continue racing" flag, correct? It would have been helpful to see some column headers or some other semantic context. Anyway, this info makes it much easier (although still subject to robustness questions):

NormalizeTimingData[data_] :=
    {continue = MemberQ[data, "FLAG"]},
      PadRight[TakeWhile[data, Not@*MatchQ["FLAG" | "FAIL"]], 12], 
      {data[[-1]], continue}]]
  • $\begingroup$ The column headers are simply the names given to the timing points (usually the corners) on the race track. They might as well be called Split Time 1, Split Time 2, Split Time 3 etc. The boolean is to say whether the rider was flagged or not. Different circuits use different timing equipment and the results appear in different formats. This code is for one set of circuits that use a particular set of timing equipment and the idea is to reformat it into a CSV that is common for all and read into a database to calculate results for the whole season. $\endgroup$
    – BruceH
    Jun 3, 2022 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ I don't want to publish the URL here and SO doesn't support private messages but part of the problem is that the website uses very poorly structured HTML and the Import[url, "Data"] command truncates rows that contain blank cells. (It's as if the blank cells are read in as "missing" and then they get removed by MMA.) I've tried the "All" option but it makes no difference. $\endgroup$
    – BruceH
    Jun 3, 2022 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ As I said in the other comment, your answers were very helpful. I realise now I had become fixated on using Position[] and was trying to think of "cell" level solutions when actually I should have been thinking in terms of rows - which is what your solution focused on. $\endgroup$
    – BruceH
    Jun 3, 2022 at 22:16

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