Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Find the number of observations in the dataset

I work with huge daatsets - more than 100,000 observations followed up for 20 years. In the process of merging datasets read in through macros, I have lost track of the number of observations.

Following code gives the number of observations in the dataset - dataname:
%let dsid=%sysfunc(open(dataname));
%let num=%sysfunc(attrn(&dsid,nobs));
%let rc=%sysfunc(close(&dsid));
%put There are &num observations in dataset dataname.;

This is from the SAS samples.


Stephen said...

Good post. I use that macro code quite often and find it very useful. As you probably know, you can use those functions within a data step if you didn't want to ruin your pretty code with %&&%& :)

data _null_;
dsid = open('work.myDataSet');
nobs = attrn(dsid,'nobs');
rc = close(dsid);
put nobs=;
* you can put it into a macro var with;
call symput( 'myMacVar' , trim( put( nobs,$8. ) );

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the code, it was very helpful!

witecat said...

Hello, this was a nice post, but it is not complete without mentioning that "NOBS" doesn't always work...
For example, a dataset that has been edited thru the "Edit" button in the SAS Base environment may not return the correct number of observations.

One good article on this and how to avoid being "tricked" can be found at

There's also even simpler way of using NOBS:

data _null_;
put nobs=;


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