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st: FW: Ranking a string variable

From   "Peci, Adriana (OAHPP)" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: FW: Ranking a string variable
Date   Mon, 23 Jan 2012 13:11:46 -0500

Hello stata listers,

I need some help to rank a string variable by two other variables. My
data are in a long form in which one observation is listed more than
The variable of interest is Item purchased  which I would like to rank
based on the Department that this item belongs to and 
The time when this item was purchased.  
So if departments categories are A, B, C, D etc (string variable) which
are listed more than once in the database and the items are unique
values as  x, y, z,.(string variable) etc.
I want to count items of each department by purchased time as 1, 2, 3,
4, 5. So in case of two items were purchased at the same time I want
them to be randomly ranked as 1, 2 and not 1,1. 

I am trying to use the egen command:  bysort department time: egen rank
=rank(item) but it doesn't work for a string variables.

Can anyone help me with that ?

Thank you so much,

Adriana Peci

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