ChatGPT: Autocoding in R


R is heavily used for statistics, data analysis, machine learning, cheminformatics, econometrics, chemometrics, neural network analysis, deep learning, graph plotting, a few to list. This blog post presents a guide on how to streamline multiple R tasks using ChatGPT, an advanced tool that enables the execution of R commands through natural language. ChatGPT was introduced in 2022 and is built on a vast dataset of text and code related to R, making it a reliable and informative instrument for handling complex or large data.

To begin using ChatGPT, you will first need to install it by following the guidelines provided on the official ChatGPT website. Once installed, you can easily automate various R tasks by entering the command and pressing enter. These tasks include code completion, identifying issues in selected or whole file codes, and more. ChatGPT will execute the given task, saving you valuable time and energy.

By leveraging the power of ChatGPT, you can significantly streamline your workflow when working with R. We encourage you to give it a try and explore the ChatGPT website to learn more about how to use this tool to its full potential.


  • After acquiring your API key, you can assign it for usage in R. This can be done temporarily for the current session by executing the following command:
  • Alternatively, you can assign it permanently for the session by adding it to your .Renviron file. You can access the .Renviron file by running following code:
  • and then add a line containing your API key at the end of the file, like this:


You can install the development version of {chatgpt} from GitHub with:

# install.packages(“remotes”)


How to use ChatGPT in R:

Here are a few examples of how you can use ChatGPT:

A) Code completion:


> cat(complete_code("# A function to square each element of a vector\nsquare_each <- function("))
*** ChatGPT input:
Complete the following R code: "# A function to square each element of a vector
square_each <- function("
square_each <- function(x) {
    x_squared <- x^2
# This function takes a vector "x" as input, squares each element of the vector using the "^" operator, stores the squared values in a new vector "x_squared", and returns the new vector.

B) Find issues in the code:


> cat(find_issues_in_code("i <- 0\nwhile (i < 0) {\n i <- i - 1\n}"))
*** ChatGPT input:
Find issues or bugs in the following R code: "i <- 0
while (i < 0) {
i <- i - 1
The issue with the given R code is that the condition in the while loop is not being satisfied as the initial value of "i" is zero and the condition is while "i" is less than zero. Therefore, the while loop will not execute at all.
If the intention was to decrement the value of "i" until it reaches a negative value, then the initial value of "i" should be greater than zero, and the condition in the while loop should be changed accordingly.
Corrected code:
i <- 10
while (i > 0) {
i <- i - 1
This code will decrement the value of i by 1 in each iteration of the while loop until the value of i becomes 0.


The {chatgpt} R package offers an array of functionalities to support R coding. The current version of the package includes several add-ins, which are available for Windows, Linux, and iOS operating systems. These features are designed to streamline coding tasks and increase coding efficiency.


Some of the existing add-ins include:


  • Ask ChatGPT: This opens an interactive chat session with ChatGPT.
  • Comment selected code: This comments the selected code.
  • Complete selected code: This completes the selected code.
  • Create unit tests: This creates testthat unit tests for the selected code.
  • Create variable name: This generates a name for a variable that will be assigned the result of the code.
  • Document code (in roxygen2 format): This documents a function definition in roxygen2 format.
  • Explain selected code: This explains the selected code.
  • Find issues in the selected code: This identifies issues in the selected code.
  • Optimize selected code: This optimizes the selected code.
  • Refactor selected code: This refactors the selected code.

It is important to note that when no code is selected, the add-in will operate on the entire code in the file. These add-ins can significantly streamline the coding process and enhance productivity.

Additional Parameters

To disable console messages from {chatgpt}, you can set the environment variable OPENAI_VERBOSE=FALSE. This will prevent {chatgpt} from displaying messages in the console.


If you want {chatgpt} add-ins to execute directly in the editor – that is, replacing the selected code with the result of the add-in execution – then you should set the environment variable OPENAI_ADDIN_REPLACE=TRUE.



If you wish to change the language of the ChatGPT responses, you can modify the OPENAI_RETURN_LANGUAGE environment variable.


For example:


 Sys.setenv("OPENAI_RETURN_LANGUAGE" = "Español")
cat(chatgpt::explain_code("for (i in 1:10) {\n  print(i ** 2)\n}"))
#> *** ChatGPT input:
#> Explain the following R code: "for (i in 1:10) {
#>   print(i ** 2)
#> }"
#> Este código de R utiliza la función "for" para imprimir los cuadrados de los números del 1 al 10.
#> El "for" es un bucle que ejecuta un bloque de código un número específico de veces. En este caso, especifica que la variable "i" tomará valores del 1 al 10, uno a la vez.
#> La función "print" se utiliza para mostrar el resultado en la consola. Dentro del paréntesis, la expresión "i ** 2" eleva el valor actual de "i" al cuadrado.
#> Entonces, durante cada iteración del bucle, imprimirá el número actual de "i", elevado al cuadrado. El resultado final será los siguientes números: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81 y 100.

ChatGPT Model Tweaks

By modifying certain environment variables, the parameters of the ChatGPT model can be adjusted. The behavior of the model can be customized according to specific needs. These environment variables are listed in the documentation available at



  • OPENAI_MODEL; defaults to “gpt-3.5-turbo”
  • OPENAI_MAX_TOKENS; defaults to 256
  • OPENAI_TEMPERATURE; defaults to 1
  • OPENAI_TOP_P; defaults to 1
  • OPENAI_PRESENCE_PENALTY; defaults to 0


There are certain limitations to the ChatGPT plugin that users should be aware of. These limitations include:


  • Dependency on OpenAI API: To use the plugin, an internet connection and an API key are required. This means that users without an internet connection or an API key will be unable to use ChatGPT.
  • Limited to knowledge up to September 2021: The ChatGPT model is based on the training data available up to September 2021. As a result, the model may not have information on the latest R techniques or features that have been added after that date.

Although these limitations may have an impact on the usage of ChatGPT, it remains a powerful tool that can significantly simplify R tasks for users.


To sum up, ChatGPT is a groundbreaking tool that has the potential to transform the way we interact with R. With the ability to use natural language to automate common R tasks, ChatGPT can save a significant amount of time and effort, particularly when working with large or intricate data. As it can execute multiple commands at once, ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can increase productivity and simplify workflows for researchers, students, and professionals alike.


As ChatGPT continues to evolve, we can expect to see further improvements, including additional commands, enhanced usability, and increased efficiency. We are excited to witness the progress of this technology and how it will continue to advance R automation. Therefore, why not try ChatGPT today and see how it can benefit your R work?

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