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How to check if an entire column of string variables can potentially be converted to numerical values?

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Leon on 17 Oct 2019
Answered: Matt J on 18 Oct 2019
I have a column variable normally look like this:
Once in a while the column data will be like this, i.e., composed entiredly of strings that can be converted to numerical values.
When this happens, I want to use str2num to convert them into numerical values first before using writetable to put them into an Excel file. Otherwise, I would see all those yellow diamonds with ! inside next to each row of the column to indicate errors.
So how do I detect if all elements in an entire column can potentially be converted to numerical values?
Also when I treid to use str2num, why am I getting the below error?
Input must be a character vector or string scalar.


Wiley Mosley
Wiley Mosley on 17 Oct 2019
Typically I use str2double() instead of str2num. Try using that, and if it cannot convert it will return a NaN. You can then do a sweep removing the NaN with [ ] . The strings that can be converted will, and the ones that can't can be removed.
Guillaume on 17 Oct 2019
As the documentation of str2num states, it's a dangerous function to use (internally it uses eval so I could give you a string that would delete everything on your hard drive were you to pass it to str2num.)
Whenever possible prefer str2double which is guaranteed to not have any side effect.

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Accepted Answer

Matt J
Matt J on 18 Oct 2019

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