Set All Array Elements to Zero in SAS

When you use an array in a SAS data step, sometimes you need to reinitialize the array elements to some value. For example zero or one. Not long ago, I learned a nifty little trick that allows you to do so easily. This post demonstrates three different methods to set all array elements to some specified value. I will show an example for both regular and temporary arrays. One smarter than the other.

Go Through the SAS Array Indexes

The obvious approach is to simply go through each of the SAS array elements and set that element to zero. Below, I do so in a simple do loop. First, I create a matrix with ten elements. Next, I simply loop through each element and set it to zero. You can check the log and see that all elements are in fact set to zero.

data _null_;
   array x[10] (1 . 3 . 5 . 7 . 9 .);
   do i=1 to dim(x);
   put x[*];

Call Stdize

Next, let us take things a bit further. Instead of looping through each element, I use the Call Stdize Routine to handle all entries at once. First, I create the same array as above. Some elements are missing, some are not. Next, I use Call Stdize. I use the Replace Option to make sure that missing values are set to zero. Then I use the Mult= Option to multiply non missing values by the third argument 0.

Finally, I have to supply a list of variables to the routine. I feed it the x[*], which means every element of x. However, the SAS routine requires there to be at least one non missing variable value. Therefore, I also list _N_ as an input variable to overcome this. I can do so safely, because _N_ is always a positive integer.

data _null_;
   array x[10] (1 . 3 . 5 . 7 . 9 .);
   call stdize('replace','mult=',0,of x[*],_N_);
   put x[*];

Call Fillmatrix

The SAS Call Stdize Documentation says that the routine “Standardizes the values of one or more variables”. Now, as you may know, temporary arrays are not made of actual variables as a regular array. Consequently, the above trick does not work for temporary arrays.  Instead, we have to make thins a little more complicated. Below, I create a subroutine in PROC FCMP named Fillarray. I do this by compiling the Fillmatrix Routine. Next, I create the same array as before, but declare it as temporary. This means that not variables are created in the PDV. Now, I can use the Fillarray Routine to set all the entrances in the temporary array x to zero. Or any other constant value for that matter.

proc fcmp;
   subroutine fillarray (x[*], value);
      outargs x;
      call fillmatrix (x, value);
option cmplib=work.functions;                                    
data _null_;
   array x[10] _temporary_ (1 . 3 . 5 . 7 . 9 .);
   call fillarray (x, 0);
   temp=catq('d', ' ', of x[*]);
   put temp=;


In this post, I demonstrated three approaches to setting all array elements to zero. I show techniques for both regular and temporary arrays, though it is more complicated to do so with a temporary array.

I learned this trick from the users FreelanceReinhard and hashman at the SAS Online Community. If you don’t know it already, I provide a guide in the post Stuck on a SAS Problem? Ask for Help.

For other posts related to SAS arrays check out SAS Array Lookup Example and Use Temporary Arrays to Store Lagged Values in SAS.

You can download the entire code from this post here.