This lesson is in the early stages of development (Alpha version)

Starting With Data


Teaching: 30 min
Exercises: 30 min
  • How can I import data in Python?

  • What is Pandas?

  • Why should I use Pandas to work with data?

  • Navigate the workshop directory and download a dataset.

  • Explain what a library is and what libraries are used for.

  • Describe what the Python Data Analysis Library (Pandas) is.

  • Load the Python Data Analysis Library (Pandas).

  • Use read_csv to read tabular data into Python.

  • Describe what a DataFrame is in Python.

  • Access and summarize data stored in a DataFrame.

  • Define indexing as it relates to data structures.

  • Perform basic mathematical operations and summary statistics on data in a Pandas DataFrame.

  • Create simple plots.

Working With Pandas DataFrames in Python

We can automate the process above using Python. It’s efficient to spend time building the code to perform these tasks because once it’s built, we can use it over and over on different datasets that use a similar format. This makes our methods easily reproducible. We can also easily share our code with colleagues and they can replicate the same analysis.

Starting in the same spot

To help the lesson run smoothly, let’s ensure everyone is in the same directory. This should help us avoid path and file name issues. At this time please navigate to the workshop directory. If you working in IPython Notebook be sure that you start your notebook in the workshop directory.

A quick aside that there are Python libraries like OS Library that can work with our directory structure, however, that is not our focus today.

Our Data

For this lesson, we will be using the EEBO catalogue data, a subset of the data from EEBO/TCP Early English Books Online/Text Creation Partnership

We will be using files from the Data repository. This section will use the eebo.csv file that can be downloaded here:

We are studying the authors and titles published marked up by the Text Creation Partnership. The dataset is stored as a .csv file: each row holds information for a single title, and the columns represent:

Column Description
TCP TCP identity
EEBO EEBO identity
VID VID identity
STC STC identity
status Whether the book is free or not
Author Author(s)
Date Date of publication
Title The Book title
Terms Terms associated with the text
Page Count Number of pages in the text
Place Location where published

The first few rows of our first file look like this:

TCP,EEBO,VID,STC,Status,Author,Date,Title,Terms,Page Count,Place
A00002,99850634,15849,STC 1000.5; ESTC S115415,Free,"Aylett, Robert, 1583-1655?",1625,"The brides ornaments viz. fiue meditations, morall and diuine. 1. Knowledge, 2. zeale, 3. temperance, 4. bountie, 5. ioy.",,134,London
A00005,99842408,7058,STC 10000; ESTC S106695,Free,"Higden, Ranulf, d. 1364. Polycronicon. English. Selections.; Trevisa, John, d. 1402.",1515,Here begynneth a shorte and abreue table on the Cronycles ...; Saint Albans chronicle.,Great Britain -- History -- To 1485 -- Early works to 1800.; England -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.,302,London
A00007,99844302,9101,STC 10002; ESTC S108645,Free,"Higden, Ranulf, d. 1364. Polycronicon.",1528,"The Cronycles of Englonde with the dedes of popes and emperours, and also the descripcyon of Englonde; Saint Albans chronicle.",Great Britain -- History -- To 1485 -- Early works to 1800.; England -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.,386,London
A00008,99848896,14017,STC 10003; ESTC S113665,Free,"Wood, William, fl. 1623, attributed name.",1623,Considerations vpon the treaty of marriage between England and Spain,Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- Spain.,14,The Netherlands?
A00011,99837000,1304,STC 10008; ESTC S101178,Free,,1640,"Englands complaint to Iesus Christ, against the bishops canons of the late sinfull synod, a seditious conuenticle, a packe of hypocrites, a sworne confederacy, a traiterous conspiracy ... In this complaint are specified those impieties and insolencies, which are most notorious, scattered through the canons and constitutions of the said sinfull synod. And confuted by arguments annexed hereunto.",Church of England. -- Thirty-nine Articles -- Controversial literature.; Canon law -- Early works to 1800.,54,Amsterdam
A00012,99853871,19269,STC 1001; ESTC S118664,Free,"Aylett, Robert, 1583-1655?",1623,"Ioseph, or, Pharoah's fauourite; Joseph.",Joseph -- (Son of Jacob) -- Early works to 1800.,99,London
A00014,33143147,28259,STC 10011.6; ESTC S3200,Free,,1624,Greate Brittaines noble and worthy councell of warr,"England and Wales. -- Privy Council -- Portraits.; Great Britain -- History -- James I, 1603-1625.; Broadsides -- London (England) -- 17th century.",1,London
A00015,99837006,1310,STC 10011; ESTC S101184,Free,"Jones, William, of Usk.",1607,"Gods vvarning to his people of England By the great ouer-flowing of the vvaters or floudes lately hapned in South-wales and many other places. Wherein is described the great losses, and wonderfull damages, that hapned thereby: by the drowning of many townes and villages, to the vtter vndooing of many thousandes of people.",Floods -- Wales -- Early works to 1800.,16, London
A00018,99850740,15965,STC 10015; ESTC S115521,Free,,1558,The lame[n]tacion of England; Lamentacion of England.,"Great Britain -- History -- Mary I, 1553-1558 -- Early works to 1800.",26,Germany?

About Libraries

A library in Python contains a set of tools (called functions) that perform tasks on our data. Importing a library is like getting a piece of lab equipment out of a storage locker and setting it up on the bench for use in a project. Once a library is set up, it can be used or called to perform many tasks.

Pandas in Python

One of the best options for working with tabular data in Python is to use the Python Data Analysis Library (a.k.a. Pandas). The Pandas library provides data structures, produces high quality plots with matplotlib and integrates nicely with other libraries that use NumPy (which is another Python library) arrays.

Python doesn’t load all of the libraries available to it by default. We have to add an import statement to our code in order to use library functions. To import a library, we use the syntax import libraryName. If we want to give the library a nickname to shorten the command, we can add as nickNameHere. An example of importing the pandas library using the common nickname pd is below.

import pandas as pd

Each time we call a function that’s in a library, we use the syntax LibraryName.FunctionName. Adding the library name with a . before the function name tells Python where to find the function. In the example above, we have imported Pandas as pd. This means we don’t have to type out pandas each time we call a Pandas function.

Reading CSV Data Using Pandas

We will begin by locating and reading our survey data which are in CSV format. We can use Pandas’ read_csv function to pull the file directly into a DataFrame.

So What’s a DataFrame?

A DataFrame is a 2-dimensional data structure that can store data of different types (including characters, integers, floating point values, factors and more) in columns. It is similar to a spreadsheet or an SQL table or the data.frame in R. A DataFrame always has an index (0-based). An index refers to the position of an element in the data structure.

# note that pd.read_csv is used because we imported pandas as pd

The above command yields the output below:

          TCP        EEBO     VID  \
0      A00002  99850634.0   15849   
1      A00005  99842408.0    7058   
2      A00007  99844302.0    9101   
3      A00008  99848896.0   14017   
4      A00011  99837000.0    1304
146  A00525  99856552        ...                854   Prentyd  London
147  A00527  99849909        ...                 72            London
148  A00535  99849912        ...                106        Saint-Omer 
[148 rows x 11 columns]

We can see that there were 149 rows parsed. Each row has 11 columns. The first column is the index of the DataFrame. The index is used to identify the position of the data, but it is not an actual column of the DataFrame. It looks like the read_csv function in Pandas read our file properly. However, we haven’t saved any data to memory so we can work with it.We need to assign the DataFrame to a variable. Remember that a variable is a name for a value, such as x, or data. We can create a new object with a variable name by assigning a value to it using =.

Let’s call the imported survey data tcp_df:

tcp_df = pd.read_csv("eebo.csv")

Notice when you assign the imported DataFrame to a variable, Python does not produce any output on the screen. We can print the value of the tcp_df object by typing its name into the Python command prompt.


which prints contents like above

Manipulating Our Index Data

Now we can start manipulating our data. First, let’s check the data type of the data stored in tcp_df using the type method. The type method and __class__ attribute tell us that tcp_df is <class 'pandas.core.frame.DataFrame'>.

# this does the same thing as the above!

We can also enter tcp_df.dtypes at our prompt to view the data type for each column in our DataFrame. int64 represents numeric integer values - int64 cells can not store decimals. object represents strings (letters and numbers). float64 represents numbers with decimals.


which returns:

TCP         object
EEBO        float64
VID         object
STC         object
Status      object
Author      object
Date        object
Title       object
Terms       object
Page Count  int64
dtype: object

We’ll talk a bit more about what the different formats mean in a different lesson.

Useful Ways to View DataFrame objects in Python

There are many ways to summarize and access the data stored in DataFrames, using attributes and methods provided by the DataFrame object.

To access an attribute, use the DataFrame object name followed by the attribute name df_object.attribute. Using the DataFrame tcp_df and attribute columns, an index of all the column names in the DataFrame can be accessed with tcp_df.columns.

Methods are called in a similar fashion using the syntax df_object.method(). As an example, tcp_df.head() gets the first few rows in the DataFrame tcp_df using the head() method. With a method, we can supply extra information in the parens to control behaviour.

Let’s look at the data using these.

Challenge - DataFrames

Using our DataFrame tcp_df, try out the attributes & methods below to see what they return.

  1. tcp_df.columns
  2. tcp_df.shape Take note of the output of shape - what format does it return the shape of the DataFrame in?

    HINT: More on tuples, here.

  3. tcp_df.head() Also, what does tcp_df.head(15) do?
  4. tcp_df.tail()

Calculating Statistics From Data In A Pandas DataFrame

We’ve read our data into Python. Next, let’s perform some quick summary statistics to learn more about the data that we’re working with. We might want to know how many animals were collected in each plot, or how many of each species were caught. We can perform summary stats quickly using groups. But first we need to figure out what we want to group by.

Let’s begin by exploring our data:

# Look at the column names

which returns:

array(['TCP', 'EEBO', 'VID', 'STC', 'Status', 'Author', 'Date', 'Title',
       'Terms', 'Page Count', 'Place'], dtype=object)

Let’s get a list of all the page counts. The pd.unique function tells us all of the unique values in the Pages column.

pd.unique(tcp_df['Page Count'])

which returns:

array([134, 302, 386,  14,  54,  99,   1,  16,  26,  62,  50,  66,  30,
         6,  36,   8,  12,  24,  22,   7,  20,  40,  38,  13,  28,  10,
        23,   2, 112,  18,   4,  27,  42,  17,  46,  58, 200, 158,  65,
        96, 178,  52, 774,  81, 392,  74, 162,  56, 100, 172,  94,  79,
       107,  48, 102, 343, 136,  70, 156, 133, 228, 357, 110,  72,  44,
        43,  37,  98, 566, 500, 746, 884, 254, 618, 274, 188, 374,  47,
        34, 177,  82,  78,  64, 124,  80, 108, 182, 120,  68, 854, 106])

Challenge - Statistics

  1. Create a list of unique locations found in the index data. Call it places. How many unique location are there in the data? How many unique species are in the data?

  2. What is the difference between len(places) and tcp_df['Place'].nunique()?

Groups in Pandas

We often want to calculate summary statistics grouped by subsets or attributes within fields of our data. For example, we might want to calculate the average weight of all individuals per plot.

We can calculate basic statistics for all records in a single column using the syntax below:

tcp_df['Page Count'].describe()

gives output

count    149.000000
mean     104.382550
std      160.125398
min        1.000000
25%       16.000000
50%       52.000000
75%      108.000000
max      884.000000
Name: Page Count, dtype: float64

We can also extract one specific metric if we wish:

tcp_df['Page Count'].min()
tcp_df['Page Count'].max()
tcp_df['Page Count'].mean()
tcp_df['Page Count'].std()
tcp_df['Page Count'].count()

But if we want to summarize by one or more variables, for example sex, we can use Pandas’ .groupby method. Once we’ve created a groupby DataFrame, we can quickly calculate summary statistics by a group of our choice.

# Group data by status
grouped_data = tcp_df.groupby('Place')

The pandas function describe will return descriptive stats including: mean, median, max, min, std and count for a particular column in the data. Pandas’ describe function will only return summary values for columns containing numeric data.

# summary statistics for all numeric columns by place
# provide the mean for each numeric column by place

grouped_data.mean() OUTPUT:

                                       EEBO     ...      Page Count
Place                                           ...                
Amsterdam                      9.983700e+07     ...       54.000000
Antverpi                       9.983759e+07     ...       34.000000
Antwerp                        9.985185e+07     ...       40.000000
Cambridge                      2.445926e+07     ...        1.000000
Emden                          9.984713e+07     ...       58.000000

The groupby command is powerful in that it allows us to quickly generate summary stats.

Challenge - Summary Data

  1. What is the mean page length for books published in Amsterdam and how many for London
  2. What happens when you group by two columns using the following syntax and then grab mean values:
    • grouped_data2 = tcp_df.groupby(['EEBO','Page Count'])
    • grouped_data2.mean()
  3. Summarize the Date values in your data. HINT: you can use the following syntax to only create summary statistics for one column in your data tcp_df['Page Count'].describe()

Did you get #3 right?

A Snippet of the Output from challenge 3 looks like:

	      count    149.000000
	      mean    1584.288591
	      std       36.158864
	      min     1515.000000
	      25%     1552.000000
	      50%     1583.000000
	      75%     1618.000000
	      max     1640.000000

Quickly Creating Summary Counts in Pandas

Let’s next count the number of samples for each author. We can do this in a few ways, but we’ll use groupby combined with a count() method.

# count the number of texts by authors
author_counts = tcp_df.groupby('Author')['EEBO'].count()

Or, we can also count just the rows that have the author “A. B.”:

tcp_df.groupby('Author')['EEBO'].count()['Aylett, Robert, 1583-1655?']

Challenge - Make a list

What’s another way to create a list of authors and associated count of the records in the data? Hint: you can perform count, min, etc functions on groupby DataFrames in the same way you can perform them on regular DataFrames.

Basic Math Functions

If we wanted to, we could perform math on an entire column of our data. For example let’s multiply all weight values by 2. A more practical use of this might be to normalize the data according to a mean, area, or some other value calculated from our data.

# multiply all page length values by 2
tcp_df['Page Count']*2

Quick & Easy Plotting Data Using Pandas

We can plot our summary stats using Pandas, too.

# make sure figures appear inline in Ipython Notebook
%matplotlib inline
# create a quick bar chart

Weight by Species Plot Weight by species plot

We can also look at how many animals were captured in each plot:

total_count = tcp_df.groupby('Terms')['Place'].nunique()
# let's plot that too

Challenge - Plots

  1. Create a plot of Authors across all Places per plot.

Summary Plotting Challenge

Create a stacked bar plot, with page count on the Y axis, and the stacked variable being author. The plot should show total weight by sex for each plot. Some tips are below to help you solve this challenge:

  • For more on Pandas plots, visit this link.
  • You can use the code that follows to create a stacked bar plot but the data to stack need to be in individual columns. Here’s a simple example with some data where ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c’ are the groups, and ‘one’ and ‘two’ are the subgroups.
d = {'one' : pd.Series([1., 2., 3.], index=['a', 'b', 'c']),'two' : pd.Series([1., 2., 3., 4.], index=['a', 'b', 'c', 'd'])}

shows the following data

      one  two
  a    1    1
  b    2    2
  c    3    3
  d  NaN    4

We can plot the above with

# plot stacked data so columns 'one' and 'two' are stacked
my_df = pd.DataFrame(d)
my_df.plot(kind='bar',stacked=True,title="The title of my graph")

Stacked Bar Plot

  • You can use the .unstack() method to transform grouped data into columns for each plotting. Try running .unstack() on some DataFrames above and see what it yields.

Start by transforming the grouped data (by plot and sex) into an unstacked layout, then create a stacked plot.

Solution to Summary Challenge

First we group data by plot and by sex, and then calculate a total for each plot.

tcp_author = tcp_df.groupby(['Place','Author'])
author_count = tcp_author['Page Count'].sum()

This calculates the sums for each author for each author as a table

plot  sex
plot_id  sex
Place                          Author  
Antverpi                       Evans, Lewis, fl. 1574.              34
Antwerp                        Verstegan, Richard, ca. 1550-1640.   40
<other plots removed for brevity>

Below we’ll use .unstack() on our grouped data to figure out the total weight that each sex contributed to each plot.

by_plot_sex = tcp_df.groupby(['plot_id','sex'])
plot_sex_count = by_plot_sex['weight'].sum()

The unstack function above will display the following output:

sex          F      M
1        38253  59979
2        50144  57250
3        27251  28253
4        39796  49377
<other plots removed for brevity>

Now, create a stacked bar plot with that data where the weights for each sex are stacked by plot.

Rather than display it as a table, we can plot the above data by stacking the values of each sex as follows:

by_plot_sex = tcp_df.groupby(['plot_id','sex'])
plot_sex_count = by_plot_sex['weight'].sum()
spc = plot_sex_count.unstack()
s_plot = spc.plot(kind='bar',stacked=True,title="Total weight by plot and sex")

Stacked Bar Plot

Key Points