Converting a character (or string) variable to a numeric variable and vice versa in SAS and SPSS (syntax)
We will discuss two scenarios. First is where our variable is a Character (in SAS) or a String variable (in SPSS), which may contain numerals, letters, or any other special characters), but should be converted to a Numeric variable.
Here I created in SAS a Character variable which contains only letters, and there are only three letters in each record, as the informat indicates.
data test; input character$3.; datalines; abc bcd cde ; run;
And here is a program for creating the same dataset using SPSS syntax
data list list / id * character (A3). begin data 1 "abc" 2 "bcd" 3 "cde" end data.
Converting this Character variable to a Numeric variable can be easily done in SAS with the IF-THEN statement, as can be seen here where I created a new Numeric variable ‘characterB’.
data work.Test; set work.Test; If character='abc' THEN characterB=123; If character='bcd' THEN characterB=234; If character='cde' THEN characterB=345; RUN;
With the new variable of ‘characterB’ containing only numbers, SAS automatically classified it as a Numeric variable.
As we have only a few values, the Recode command using SPSS syntax can be done with one of the two following options:
recode character ('abc' = 123) ('bcd' = 234) ('cde' = 345) into CharacterB.
compute characterB= 0. if character = 'abc' characterB = 123. if character = 'bcd' characterB = 234. if character = 'cde' characterB = 345. execute.
The second scenario is where a variable contains only numbers, but was classified as a Character or String variable. Swapping the informat from a Character variable to a Numeric Variable can be done in SAS with the following INPUT function:
data work.Test; set work.Test; numeric=input(character, best3.); RUN;
This will create a new Numeric variable with identical content, but with a different informat.
Similar results can be achieved in SPSS with the RECODE command and the CONVERT INTO option
recode character (convert) into numeric.
Converting the inforamt from a Numeric variable to a Character variable can be done in SAS with the following PUT statement:
data work.Test; set work.Test; character=put(numeric,3.0); RUN;
Similarly this will create a new Character variable with identical content, but with a different informat.
SPSS users can use, again, the RECODE command, with CONVERT INTO option.
recode numeric (convert) into character.
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