This tutorial illustrates how to deal with the error message “non-numeric argument to binary operator” in the R programming language.

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Please note that this page illustrates the error message returned by Base R. In case you are looking for the error message “Error in max.item – min.item : non-numeric argument to binary operator” returned by the alpha function of the psych package, you may have a look here.

Let’s dive right into the example!

## Example: Reproducing & Fixing the Error Message: non-numeric argument to binary operator

In this Example, I’ll explain how to reproduce and fix the error message “non-numeric argument to binary operator”. First, let’s create an example that reproduces the error:

 5 * "three" # Trying to use character string in equation# Error in 5 * "three" : non-numeric argument to binary operator
5 * "three" # Trying to use character string in equation# Error in 5 * "three" : non-numeric argument to binary operator

As you can see based on the previous R code, we have tried to use a character string in an equation (i.e. “three”). Unfortunately, this is not possible in the R programming language.

If we want to solve this problem, we need to replace the character string by a numeric value (i.e. 3). Let’s do that:

As you can see, the RStudio console is not returning the error anymore. Instead it shows the result of our equation.

## Video & Further Resources

Would you like to learn more about error messages in R? Then you might have a look at the following video of my YouTube channel. I explain the R programming code of this page in the video instruction:

Besides the video, you could have a look at the other articles of my website.

Summary: In this article you learned how to handle the error non-numeric argument to binary operator in the R programming language. Tell me about it in the comments, in case you have additional questions.

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2.1 / 5 ( 17 votes )

Hubermane
June 20, 2021 4:09 pm

In need help for a test cromcah’s alpha: Error:non-numeric argument to binary operator, how I can resolve it?

Tidy
June 22, 2021 6:07 am

Hi Joachim, I’m in the same boat as Hubermane. I’ve used this syntax with other measures and haven’t run into the same issue. My code: