i'm trying to get familiar with the new Dataset-stuff in Mathematica 10. As it will (hopefully) provide some benefit for me, I have started to convert my app to move from list and list of rules to Associations and Datasets.

Starting point for me is an XML object, which is converted to a Dataset now. I was hoping to reduce the programming code by e.g. applying functions to multiple columns at once.

This is an example Dataset:

testset = Dataset[{<|"Element" -> "A", "a" -> "529251", "b" -> "520358"|>, <|
"Element" -> "B", "a" -> "51"|>, <|"Element" -> "C", 
"a" -> "177"|>, <|"Element" -> "L", "a" -> "125"|>, <|
"Element" -> "S", "a" -> "1343"|>}]

This gives:


As the XML sometimes contains integers and reals in scientific form, I'm using


to convert the stuff:

SetAttributes[fnStr2Real, {Listable}];
testset[fnStr2Real, {"a", "b"}]
(* Trace yields *)
(* Query[fnStr2Real, {"a", "b"}][testset] *)

The issue: there is some kind of rounding in the resulting recordset:


If I apply my function directly to my list or association, everything is fine:

Function[x, fnStr2Real[#[x] & /@ Normal[testset]]] /@ {"a", "b"}
(* {{529251., 51., 177., 125., 1343.}, {520358., 0, 0, 0, 0}} *)

I know that Internal`StringToDouble is an internal function, but I found several posts in this forum using it, and I really like it!

Is there an issue with M10, Dataset and Internal`StringToDouble?

Are there any other robust string coversion functions availabe which can handle integers, reals and reals in scientific form inside a dataset? Thanks!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, you need to set the Listable attribute: SetAttributes[fnStr2Real, {Listable}]; $\endgroup$
    – 32u-nd
    Jul 17, 2014 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ Why don't you use ToExpression for the conversion? You could check before conversion whether the string contains numeric data using StringMatchQ. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2014 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ InternalStringToDouble is fine. Check InternalStringToDouble /@ {"1234", "1234.", "1234.567", "1.234e+3", "1.23456e+3", "0.5664", "5.664e-1", "5.664e-4"} $\endgroup$
    – 32u-nd
    Jul 17, 2014 at 11:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SjoerdC.deVries ToExpression is very slow compared to Internal`StringToDouble. See this $\endgroup$
    – Murta
    Jul 17, 2014 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


I don't yet know where the rounding is coming from but it appears to be occurring during formatting.


testset[fnStr2Real, {"a", "b"}] // Normal // Normal
{{"a" -> 529251., "b" -> 520358.}, {"a" -> 51., "b" -> 0},
 {"a" -> 177., "b" -> 0}, {"a" -> 125., "b" -> 0}, {"a" -> 1343., "b" -> 0}}

Actually the rounding seems to be a standard part of the formatting of Dataset:

Dataset[<|a -> 123456.|>]

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you're right; interesting. It also appears correctly in the FullForm. So I don't need to focus on this and can continue with my work. Everything is fine; it's just a matter of vizualisation $\endgroup$
    – 32u-nd
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @akm I think that's correct, but it's still surprising. I haven't yet read about Datasets so this may be plainly documented. Perhaps there is an Option that controls it. I'll try to remember to update this post later as I learn more. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, the programmers have remembered this: (stat.washington.edu/pds/stat423/Documents/…), which is actually good, but should be documented. $\endgroup$
    – 32u-nd
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:17
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard It's neither documented nor controllable. The formatting of Dataset is quite limited at the moment, there are several ways I wish to expand it and make it more interactive, so making it controllable now is premature and would probably lock the design to something sub-optimal. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2014 at 13:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @TaliesinBeynon, why not give options for formatting as there are for FailureAction in Query. Is it safe to Unprotect and roll implement custom formatters? eg w/ scrollbars for large data. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2014 at 21:53

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