Should we convert every categorical variable in our model to factor before running the randomForest algorithm?




I have a doubt regarding converting the categorical variables in my dataset to factors before running the randomForest algorithm on the data. I know that I cannot have the variables in character format. randomForest algorithm will throw an error in that case.

So is it necessary to convert the categorical variables into factors OR numeric/integer types would work in the same way? And is this true in case of just randomForest or do we need to take care of this while applying any algorithm?