Many times you have a variable in SAS that is character and you want to convert it to numeric. This tends to come up a lot when importing from Excel. Excel shows a number, but SAS reads the column in as a character variable.
It is a bit difficult to *replace* the original character variable with a numeric one, but it is trivial to create a new numeric variable. Just use the input() function.
The syntax is:
numericVar = input(charVar, informat.);
NumericVar is the numeric variable you are hoping to create.
CharVar is the character variable that holds the 'number'.
Informat is a numeric informat that tells SAS how to translate the numeric 'characters' into a useful number. Dates are often used to illustrate this concept:
charDate = '01mar06';
numDate = input(charDate, date7.);
In the above case, date7. tells SAS how to interpret the character string '01mar06'
into a number (in this case, the number of days since Jan 01, 1960).
Of course your character variable can be something as simple as '1234'. In that case this would work:
charVar = '1234';
numvAR = input(charVar, 4.);
People often confuse the input() function with the put() function. I always
remembered by emphasizing the n sound with this little refrain:
Input Into Numeric.