How To Install the pandas Package and Work with Data Structures in Python 3
How To Install the pandas Package and Work with Data Structures in Python 3
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How To Install the pandas Package and Work with Data Structures in Python 3

PostedFebruary 10, 2017 15.9k views Python Data Analysis Development

Introduction

The Python pandas package is used for data manipulation and analysis, designed to let you work with labeled or relational data in a more intuitive way.

Built on the numpy package, pandas includes labels, descriptive indices, and is particularly robust in handling common data formats and missing data.

The pandas package offers spreadsheet functionality but working with data is much faster with Python than it is with a spreadsheet, and pandas proves to be very efficient.

In this tutorial, we’ll first install pandas and then get you oriented with the fundamental data structures: Series and DataFrames.

Installing pandas

Like with other Python packages, we can install pandas with pip.

First, let’s move into our local programming environment or server-based programming environment of choice and install pandas along with its dependencies there:

  • pip install pandas numpy python-dateutil pytz

You should receive output similar to the following:

Output
Successfully installed pandas-0.19.2

If you prefer to install pandas within Anaconda, you can do so with the following command:

  • conda install pandas

At this point, you’re all set up to begin working with the pandas package.

Series

In pandas, Series are one-dimensional arrays that can hold any data type. The axis labels are referred to collectively as the index.

Let’s start the Python interpreter in your command line like so:

  • python

From within the interpreter, import both the numpy and pandas packages into your namespace:

  • import numpy as np
  • import pandas as pd

Before we work with Series, let’s take a look at what it generally looks like:

s = pd.Series([data], index=[index])

You may notice that the data is structured like a Python list.

Without Declaring an Index

We’ll input integer data and then provide a name parameter for the Series, but we’ll avoid using the index parameter to see how pandas populates it implicitly:

  • s = pd.Series([0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25], name='Squares')

Now, let’s call the Series so we can see what pandas does with it:

  • s

We’ll see the following output, with the index in the left column, our data values in the right column. Below the columns is information about the Name of the Series and the data type that makes up the values.

Output
0 0 1 1 2 4 3 9 4 16 5 25 Name: Squares, dtype: int64

Though we did not provide an index for the array, there was one added implicitly of the integer values 0 through 5.

Declaring an Index

As the syntax above shows us, we can also make Series with an explicit index. We’ll use data about the average depth in meters of the Earth’s oceans:

  • avg_ocean_depth = pd.Series([1205, 3646, 3741, 4080, 3270], index=['Arctic', 'Atlantic', 'Indian', 'Pacific', 'Southern'])

With the Series constructed, let’s call it to see the output:

  • avg_ocean_depth
Output
Arctic 1205 Atlantic 3646 Indian 3741 Pacific 4080 Southern 3270 dtype: int64

We can see that the index we provided is on the left with the values on the right.

Indexing and Slicing Series

With pandas Series we can index by corresponding number to retrieve values:

  • avg_ocean_depth[2]
Output
3741

We can also slice by index number to retrieve values:

  • avg_ocean_depth[2:4]
Output
Indian 3741 Pacific 4080 dtype: int64

Additionally, we can call the value of the index to return the value that it corresponds with:

  • avg_ocean_depth['Indian']
Output
3741

We can also slice with the values of the index to return the corresponding values:

  • avg_ocean_depth['Indian':'Southern']
Output
Indian 3741 Pacific 4080 Southern 3270 dtype: int64

Notice that in this last example when slicing with index names the two parameters are inclusive rather than exclusive.

Let’s exit the Python interpreter with quit().

Series Initialized with Dictionaries

With pandas we can also use the dictionary data type to initialize a Series. This way, we will not declare an index as a separate list but instead use the built-in keys as the index.

Let’s create a file called ocean.py and add the following dictionary with a call to print it.

ocean.py
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd

avg_ocean_depth = pd.Series({
                    'Arctic': 1205,
                    'Atlantic': 3646,
                    'Indian': 3741,
                    'Pacific': 4080,
                    'Southern': 3270
})

print(avg_ocean_depth)

Now we can run the file on the command line:

  • python ocean.py

We’ll receive the following output:

Output
Arctic 1205 Atlantic 3646 Indian 3741 Pacific 4080 Southern 3270 dtype: int64

The Series is displayed in an organized manner, with the index (made up of our keys) to the left, and the set of values to the right.

This will behave like other Python dictionaries in that you can access values by calling the key, which we can do like so:

ocean_depth.py
...
print(avg_ocean_depth['Indian'])
print(avg_ocean_depth['Atlantic':'Indian'])
Output
3741 Atlantic 3646 Indian 3741 dtype: int64

However, these Series are now Python objects so you will not be able to use dictionary functions.

Python dictionaries provide another form to set up Series in pandas.

DataFrames

DataFrames are 2-dimensional labeled data structures that have columns that may be made up of different data types.

DataFrames are similar to spreadsheets or SQL tables. In general, when you are working with pandas, DataFrames will be the most common object you’ll use.

To understand how the pandas DataFrame works, let’s set up two Series and then pass those into a DataFrame. The first Series will be our avg_ocean_depth Series from before, and our second will be max_ocean_depth which contains data of the maximum depth of each ocean on Earth in meters.

ocean.py
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd


avg_ocean_depth = pd.Series({
                    'Arctic': 1205,
                    'Atlantic': 3646,
                    'Indian': 3741,
                    'Pacific': 4080,
                    'Southern': 3270
})

max_ocean_depth = pd.Series({
                    'Arctic': 5567,
                    'Atlantic': 8486,
                    'Indian': 7906,
                    'Pacific': 10803,
                    'Southern': 7075
})

With those two Series set up, let’s add the DataFrame to the bottom of the file, below the max_ocean_depth Series. In our example, both of these Series have the same index labels, but if you had Series with different labels then missing values would be labelled NaN.

This is constructed in such a way that we can include column labels, which we declare as keys to the Series’ variables. To see what the DataFrame looks like, let’s issue a call to print it.

ocean.py
...
max_ocean_depth = pd.Series({
                    'Arctic': 5567,
                    'Atlantic': 8486,
                    'Indian': 7906,
                    'Pacific': 10803,
                    'Southern': 7075
})

ocean_depths = pd.DataFrame({
                    'Avg. Depth (m)': avg_ocean_depth,
                    'Max. Depth (m)': max_ocean_depth
})

print(ocean_depths)

Output
Avg. Depth (m) Max. Depth (m) Arctic 1205 5567 Atlantic 3646 8486 Indian 3741 7906 Pacific 4080 10803 Southern 3270 7075

The output shows our two column headings along with the numeric data under each, and the labels from the dictionary keys are on the left.

Sorting Data in DataFrames

We can sort the data in the DataFrame by using the DataFrame.sort_values(by=...) function.

For example, let’s use the ascending Boolean parameter, which can be either True or False. Note that ascending is a parameter we can pass to the function, but descending is not.

ocean_depth.py
...
print(ocean_depths.sort_values('Avg. Depth (m)', ascending=True))
Output
Avg. Depth (m) Max. Depth (m) Arctic 1205 5567 Southern 3270 7075 Atlantic 3646 8486 Indian 3741 7906 Pacific 4080 10803

Now, the output shows the numbers ascending from low values to high values in the left-most integer column.

Statistical Analysis with DataFrames

Next, let’s look at some summary statistics that we can gather from pandas with the DataFrame.describe() function.

Without passing particular parameters, the DataFrame.describe() function will provide the following information for numeric data types:

Return What it means
count Frequency count; the number of times something occurs
mean The mean or average
std The standard deviation, a numerical value used to indicate how widely data varies
min The minimum or smallest number in the set
25% 25th percentile
50% 50th percentile
75% 75th percentile
max The maximum or largest number in the set

Let’s have Python print out this statistical data for us by calling our ocean_depths DataFrame with the describe() function:

ocean.py
...
print(ocean_depths.describe())

When we run this program, we’ll receive the following output:

Output
Avg. Depth (m) Max. Depth (m) count 5.000000 5.000000 mean 3188.400000 7967.400000 std 1145.671113 1928.188347 min 1205.000000 5567.000000 25% 3270.000000 7075.000000 50% 3646.000000 7906.000000 75% 3741.000000 8486.000000 max 4080.000000 10803.000000

You can now compare the output here to the original DataFrame and get a better sense of the average and maximum depths of the Earth’s oceans when considered as a group.

Handling Missing Values

Often when working with data, you will have missing values. The pandas package provides many different ways for working with missing data, which refers to null data, or data that is not present for some reason. In pandas, this is referred to as NA data and is rendered as NaN.

We’ll go over dropping missing values with the DataFrame.dropna() function and filling missing values with the DataFrame.fillna() function. This will ensure that you don’t run into issues as you’re getting started.

Let’s make a new file called user_data.py and populate it with some data that has missing values and turn it into a DataFrame:

user_data.py
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd


user_data = {'first_name': ['Sammy', 'Jesse', np.nan, 'Jamie'],
        'last_name': ['Shark', 'Octopus', np.nan, 'Mantis shrimp'],
        'online': [True, np.nan, False, True],
        'followers': [987, 432, 321, np.nan]}

df = pd.DataFrame(user_data, columns = ['first_name', 'last_name', 'online', 'followers'])

print(df)

Our call to print shows us the following output when we run the program:

Output
first_name last_name online followers 0 Sammy Shark True 987.0 1 Jesse Octopus NaN 432.0 2 NaN NaN False 321.0 3 Jamie Mantis shrimp True NaN

There are quite a few missing values here.

Let’s first drop the missing values with dropna().

user_data.py
...
df_drop_missing = df.dropna()

print(df_drop_missing)

Since there is only one row that has no values missing whatsoever in our small data set, that is the only row that remains intact when we run the program:

Output
first_name last_name online followers 0 Sammy Shark True 987.0

As an alternative to dropping the values, we can instead populate the missing values with a value of our choice, such as 0. This we will achieve with DataFrame.fillna(0).

Delete or comment out the last two lines we added to our file, and add the following:

user_data.py
...
df_fill = df.fillna(0)

print(df_fill)

When we run the program, we’ll receive the following output:

Output
first_name last_name online followers 0 Sammy Shark True 987.0 1 Jesse Octopus 0 432.0 2 0 0 False 321.0 3 Jamie Mantis shrimp True 0.0

Now all of our columns and rows are intact, and instead of having NaN as our values we now have 0 populating those spaces. You’ll notice that floats are used when appropriate.

At this point, you can sort data, do statistical analysis, and handle missing values in DataFrames.

Conclusion

This tutorial covered introductory information for data analytics with pandas and Python 3. You should now have pandas installed, and can work with the Series and DataFrames data structures within pandas.

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