Book Image

Python: End-to-end Data Analysis

By : Ivan Idris, Luiz Felipe Martins, Martin Czygan, Phuong Vo.T.H, Magnus Vilhelm Persson
Book Image

Python: End-to-end Data Analysis

By: Ivan Idris, Luiz Felipe Martins, Martin Czygan, Phuong Vo.T.H, Magnus Vilhelm Persson

Overview of this book

Data analysis is the process of applying logical and analytical reasoning to study each component of data present in the system. Python is a multi-domain, high-level, programming language that offers a range of tools and libraries suitable for all purposes, it has slowly evolved as one of the primary languages for data science. Have you ever imagined becoming an expert at effectively approaching data analysis problems, solving them, and extracting all of the available information from your data? If yes, look no further, this is the course you need! In this course, we will get you started with Python data analysis by introducing the basics of data analysis and supported Python libraries such as matplotlib, NumPy, and pandas. Create visualizations by choosing color maps, different shapes, sizes, and palettes then delve into statistical data analysis using distribution algorithms and correlations. You’ll then find your way around different data and numerical problems, get to grips with Spark and HDFS, and set up migration scripts for web mining. You’ll be able to quickly and accurately perform hands-on sorting, reduction, and subsequent analysis, and fully appreciate how data analysis methods can support business decision-making. Finally, you will delve into advanced techniques such as performing regression, quantifying cause and effect using Bayesian methods, and discovering how to use Python’s tools for supervised machine learning. The course provides you with highly practical content explaining data analysis with Python, from the following Packt books: 1. Getting Started with Python Data Analysis. 2. Python Data Analysis Cookbook. 3. Mastering Python Data Analysis. By the end of this course, you will have all the knowledge you need to analyze your data with varying complexity levels, and turn it into actionable insights.
Table of Contents (6 chapters)

In this chapter, we want to get you acquainted with typical data preparation tasks and analysis techniques, because being fluent in preparing, grouping, and reshaping data is an important building block for successful data analysis.

While preparing data seems like a mundane task – and often it is – it is a step we cannot skip, although we can strive to simplify it by using tools such as Pandas.

Why is preparation necessary at all? Because most useful data will come from the real world and will have deficiencies, contain errors or will be fragmentary.

There are more reasons why data preparation is useful: it gets you in close contact with the raw material. Knowing your input helps you to spot potential errors early and build confidence in your results.

Here are a few data preparation scenarios:

The arsenal of tools for data munging is huge, and while we will focus on Python we want to mention some useful tools as well. If they are available on your system and you expect to work a lot with data, they are worth learning.

One group of tools belongs to the UNIX tradition, which emphasizes text processing and as a consequence has, over the last four decades, developed many high-performance and battle-tested tools for dealing with text. Some common tools are: sed, grep, awk, sort, uniq, tr, cut, tail, and head. They do very elementary things, such as filtering out lines (grep) or columns (cut) from files, replacing text (sed, tr) or displaying only parts of files (head, tail).

We want to demonstrate the power of these tools with a single example only.

Imagine you are handed the log files of a web server and you are interested in the distribution of the IP addresses.

Each line of the log file contains an entry in the common log server format (you can download this data set from

$ cat epa-html.txt [29:23:56:12] "GET /Access/ HTTP/1.0" 200 [30:00:22:20] "GET /Info.html HTTP/1.0" 200 884

For instance, we want to know how often certain users have visited our site.

We are interested in the first column only, since this is where the IP address or hostname can be found. After that, we need to count the number of occurrences of each host and finally display the results in a friendly way.

The sort | uniq -c stanza is our workhorse here: it sorts the data first and uniq -c will save the number of occurrences along with the value. The sort -nr | head -15 is our formatting part; we sort numerically (-n) and in reverse (-r), and keep only the top 15 entries.

Putting it all together with pipes:

$ cut -d ' ' -f 1 epa-http.txt | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head -15

With one command, we get to convert a sequential server log into an ordered list of the most common hosts that visited our site. We also see that we do not seem to have large differences in the number of visits among our top users.

There are more little helpful tools of which the following are just a tiny selection:

Where the UNIX command line ends, lightweight languages take over. You might be able to get an impression from text only, but your colleagues might appreciate visual representations, such as charts or pretty graphs, generated by matplotlib, much more.

Python and its data tools ecosystem are much more versatile than the command line, but for first explorations and simple operations the effectiveness of the command line is often unbeatable.

Most real-world data will have some defects and therefore will need to go through a cleaning step first. We start with a small file. Although this file contains only four rows, it will allow us to demonstrate the process up to a cleaned data set:

Note that this file has a few issues. The lines that contain values are all comma-separated, but we have missing (NA) and probably unclean (5.3*) values. We can load this file into a data frame, nevertheless:

Pandas used the first row as header, but this is not what we want:

This is better, but instead of numeric values, we would like to supply our own column names:

The age column looks good, since Pandas already inferred the intended type, but the height cannot be parsed into numeric values yet:

If we try to coerce the height column into float values, Pandas will report an exception:

We could use whatever value is parseable as a float and throw away the rest with the convert_objects method:

If we know in advance the undesirable characters in our data set, we can augment the read_csv method with a custom converter function:

Now we can finally make the height column a bit more useful. We can assign it the updated version, which has the favored type:

If we wanted to only keep the complete entries, we could drop any row that contains undefined values:

We could use a default height, maybe a fixed value:

On the other hand, we could also use the average of the existing values:

The last three data frames are complete and correct, depending on your definition of correct when dealing with missing values. Especially, the columns have the requested types and are ready for further analysis. Which of the data frames is best suited will depend on the task at hand.

Even if we have clean and probably correct data, we might want to use only parts of it or we might want to check for outliers. An outlier is an observation point that is distant from other observations because of variability or measurement errors. In both cases, we want to reduce the number of elements in our data set to make it more relevant for further processing.

In this example, we will try to find potential outliers. We will use the Europe Brent Crude Oil Spot Price as recorded by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The raw Excel data is available from (it can be found in the second worksheet). We cleaned the data slightly (the cleaning process is part of an exercise at the end of this chapter) and will work with the following data frame, containing 7160 entries, ranging from 1987 to 2015:

>>> df.head()
        date  price
0 1987-05-20  18.63
1 1987-05-21  18.45
2 1987-05-22  18.55
3 1987-05-25  18.60
4 1987-05-26  18.63
>>> df.tail()
           date  price
7155 2015-08-04  49.08
7156 2015-08-05  49.04
7157 2015-08-06  47.80
7158 2015-08-07  47.54
7159 2015-08-10  48.30

While many people know about oil prices – be it from the news or the filling station – let us forget anything we know about it for a minute. We could first ask for the extremes:

>>> df[df.price==df.price.min()]
           date  price
2937 1998-12-10    9.1
>>> df[df.price==df.price.max()]
           date   price
5373 2008-07-03  143.95

Another way to find potential outliers would be to ask for values that deviate most from the mean. We can use the np.abs function to calculate the deviation from the mean first:

>>> np.abs(df.price - df.price.mean())
0       26.17137
1       26.35137
7157     2.99863
7158     2.73863  
7159     3.49863

We can now compare this deviation from a multiple – we choose 2.5 – of the standard deviation:

>>> import numpy as np
>>> df[np.abs(df.price - df.price.mean()) > 2.5 * df.price.std()]
       date   price
5354 2008-06-06  132.81
5355 2008-06-09  134.43
5356 2008-06-10  135.24
5357 2008-06-11  134.52
5358 2008-06-12  132.11
5359 2008-06-13  134.29
5360 2008-06-16  133.90
5361 2008-06-17  131.27
5363 2008-06-19  131.84
5364 2008-06-20  134.28
5365 2008-06-23  134.54
5366 2008-06-24  135.37
5367 2008-06-25  131.59
5368 2008-06-26  136.82
5369 2008-06-27  139.38
5370 2008-06-30  138.40
5371 2008-07-01  140.67
5372 2008-07-02  141.24
5373 2008-07-03  143.95
5374 2008-07-07  139.62
5375 2008-07-08  134.15
5376 2008-07-09  133.91
5377 2008-07-10  135.81
5378 2008-07-11  143.68
5379 2008-07-14  142.43
5380 2008-07-15  136.02
5381 2008-07-16  133.31
5382 2008-07-17  134.16

We see that those few days in summer 2008 must have been special. Sure enough, it is not difficult to find articles and essays with titles like Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007–08. We have discovered a trace to these events solely by looking at the data.

We could ask the above question for each decade separately. We first make our data frame look more like a time series:

We could filter out the eighties:

We observe that within the data available (1987–1989), the fall of 1988 exhibits a slight spike in the oil prices. Similarly, during the nineties, we see that we have a larger deviation, in the fall of 1990:

There are many more use cases for filtering data. Space and time are typical units: you might want to filter census data by state or city, or economical data by quarter. The possibilities are endless and will be driven by your project.

The situation is common: you have multiple data sources, but in order to make statements about the content, you would rather combine them. Fortunately, Pandas' concatenation and merge functions abstract away most of the pain, when combining, joining, or aligning data. It does so in a highly optimized manner as well.

In a case where two data frames have a similar shape, it might be useful to just append one after the other. Maybe A and B are products and one data frame contains the number of items sold per product in a store:

Sometimes, we won't care about the indices of the originating data frames:

A more flexible way to combine objects is offered by the pd.concat function, which takes an arbitrary number of series, data frames, or panels as input. The default behavior resembles an append:

The default concat operation appends both frames along the rows – or index, which corresponds to axis 0. To concatenate along the columns, we can pass in the axis keyword argument:

We can add keys to create a hierarchical index.

This can be useful if you want to refer back to parts of the data frame later. We use the ix indexer:

Data frames resemble database tables. It is therefore not surprising that Pandas implements SQL-like join operations on them. What is positively surprising is that these operations are highly optimized and extremely fast:

If we merge on key, we get an inner join. This creates a new data frame by combining the column values of the original data frames based upon the join predicate, here the key attribute is used:

A left, right and full join can be specified by the how parameter:

The merge methods can be specified with the how parameter. The following table shows the methods in comparison with SQL:

Merge Method

SQL Join Name




Use keys from the left frame only.



Use keys from the right frame only.



Use a union of keys from both frames.



Use an intersection of keys from both frames.

We saw how to combine data frames but sometimes we have all the right data in a single data structure, but the format is impractical for certain tasks. We start again with some artificial weather data:

If we want to calculate the maximum temperature per city, we could just group the data by city and then take the max function:

However, if we have to bring our data into form every time, we could be a little more effective, by creating a reshaped data frame first, having the dates as an index and the cities as columns.

We can create such a data frame with the pivot function. The arguments are the index (we use date), the columns (we use the cities), and the values (which are stored in the value column of the original data frame):

We can use max function on this new data frame directly:

With a more suitable shape, other operations become easier as well. For example, to find the maximum temperature per day, we can simply provide an additional axis argument:

As a final topic, we will look at ways to get a condensed view of data with aggregations. Pandas comes with a lot of aggregation functions built-in. We already saw the describe function in Chapter 3, Data Analysis with Pandas. This works on parts of the data as well. We start with some artificial data again, containing measurements about the number of sunshine hours per city and date:

>>> df.head()
   country     city        date  hours
0  Germany  Hamburg  2015-06-01      8
1  Germany  Hamburg  2015-06-02     10
2  Germany  Hamburg  2015-06-03      9
3  Germany  Hamburg  2015-06-04      7
4  Germany  Hamburg  2015-06-05      3

To view a summary per city, we use the describe function on the grouped data set:

>>> df.groupby("city").describe()
Berlin     count  10.000000
           mean    6.000000
           std     3.741657
           min     0.000000
           25%     4.000000
           50%     6.000000
           75%     9.750000
           max    10.000000
Birmingham count  10.000000
           mean    5.100000
           std     2.078995
           min     2.000000
           25%     4.000000
           50%     5.500000
           75%     6.750000
           max     8.000000

On certain data sets, it can be useful to group by more than one attribute. We can get an overview about the sunny hours per country and date by passing in two column names:

>>> df.groupby(["country", "date"]).describe()
                         hours country date
France  2015-06-01 count  5.000000
                   mean   6.200000
                   std    1.095445
                   min    5.000000
                   25%    5.000000
                   50%    7.000000
                   75%    7.000000
                   max    7.000000
        2015-06-02 count  5.000000
                   mean   3.600000
                   std    3.577709
                   min    0.000000
                   25%    0.000000
                   50%    4.000000
                   75%    6.000000
                   max    8.000000
UK      2015-06-07 std    3.872983
                   min    0.000000
                   25%    2.000000
                   50%    6.000000
                   75%    8.000000
                   max    9.000000

We can compute single statistics as well:

Finally, we can define any function to be applied on the groups with the agg method. The above could have been written in terms of agg like this:

But arbitrary functions are possible. As a last example, we define a custom function, which takes an input of a series object and computes the difference between the smallest and the largest element:

One typical workflow during data exploration looks as follows:

In this chapter we have looked at ways to manipulate data frames, from cleaning and filtering, to grouping, aggregation, and reshaping. Pandas makes a lot of the common operations very easy and more complex operations, such as pivoting or grouping by multiple attributes, can often be expressed as one-liners as well. Cleaning and preparing data is an essential part of data exploration and analysis.

The next chapter explains a brief of machine learning algorithms that is applying data analysis result to make decisions or build helpful products.

Practice exercises

Exercise 1: Cleaning: In the section about filtering, we used the Europe Brent Crude Oil Spot Price, which can be found as an Excel document on the internet. Take this Excel spreadsheet and try to convert it into a CSV document that is ready to be imported with Pandas.

Hint: There are many ways to do this. We used a small tool called and we were able to load the resulting CSV file with a helper method:

Take a data set that is important for your work – or if you do not have any at hand, a data set that interests you and that is available online. Ask one or two questions about the data in advance. Then use cleaning, filtering, grouping, and plotting techniques to answer your question.