Pandas Indexing Examples: Accessing and Setting Values on DataFrames

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loc example

Use .loc[label_values] to select rows based on their labels.

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
})

# select row whose label is 0
df.loc[[0]]

# select rows whose labels are 2 and 3
df.loc[[2,3]]

source-df Source dataframe
         
select row whose label is 0 select row whose index label is 0
select rows whose labels are 2 and 3 select rows whose index labels are 2 and 3

loc example, string index

Use .loc[<label_values>] to select rows based on their string labels:

import pandas as pd

# this dataframe uses a custom array as index
df = pd.DataFrame(
    index=['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    data={
        'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
        'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
    }
)

# select row whose label is 'peter'
df.loc[['peter']]

source-df Source dataframe
         
alt-text-image-2 selected row whose index label is 'peter'

iloc example

Use iloc[<element_positions>] to select elements at the given positions (list of ints), no matter what the index is like:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
})

# select row at position 0
df.iloc[[0]]

# select rows at positions 2 through 4
df.iloc[[2,3,4]]

source-dataframe Source dataframe with integer index
         
selected-row-at-position-0 selected row at position 0
selected-row-at-positions-2-through-4* selected rows at positions 2 through 4

Naturally, iloc also works even if you have a string index:

import pandas as pd

# this dataframe uses a custom array as index
df = pd.DataFrame(
    index=['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    data={
        'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
        'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
    }
)

# select row at position 0
df.iloc[[0]]

# select rows at positions 2 through 4
df.iloc[[2,3,4]]

source-dataframe-string-index Source dataframe with string index
         
selected-row-at-position-0-string-index selected row at position 0
selected-row-at-positions-2-through-4-string-index* selected rows at positions 2 through 4

loc vs iloc

  • loc and iloc behave the same whenever your dataframe has an integer index starting at 0

loc iloc
Select by element labelSelect by element position
Can be used for setting
individual values to cells
Cannot be used for setting
individual values to cells

Set value to cell

For setting an individual value, you must use .loc.

In other words, assign a value to a specific cell in a dataframe.

Use df.loc(<index-value>, <column-name>) = <new-value>

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
})

# set individual value
df.loc[0,'name'] = 'bartholomew'

# set individual value once more
df.loc[3, 'age'] = 39

source-dataframe BEFORE: Source dataframe with
original values
         
changed-values AFTER: changed john's name
to bartholomew and changed
nancy's age to 39

Set value to coordinates

Se above: Set value to individual cell

Use column as index

You should really use verify_integrity=True because pandas won't warn you if the column in non-unique, which can cause really weird behaviour

To set an existing column as index, use set_index(<colname>, verify_integrity=True):

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
})

df.set_index('name', verify_integrity=True)

source-dataframe BEFORE: using default
numerical index
  
after-set-index AFTER: column name can only be used
as index because it's unique

Set values to multiple cells

To individually set multiple values to cells by some criteria, use df.loc[<row-index>,<colname>] = "some-value":

Example: suppose you have a dataframe where a column has wrong values and you want to fix them:

import pandas as pd

# someone recorded wrong values in `lives_in_ca` column
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY'],
    'lives_in_ca': [False,False,False,False,False]
})

# get the indices for the rows you want to change
index = df[df['state']=='CA'].index

# now use df.loc to set values only to those rows
df.loc[index,'lives_in_cali'] = True

dataframe-before-fixing BEFORE: Someone recorded wrong
values in column lives_in_ca
  
dataframe-with-column-fixed AFTER: fixed the column by
setting it to True in
applicable rows

Set values where

See above: Set values to multiple cells

Assign multiple values

See above: Set values to multiple cells

Fix SettingWithCopyWarning

setting Annoying, right?

SettingWithCopyWarning happens when you try to assign data to a dataframe that was derived from another dataframe.

One quick way to fix it is to create a copy of the source dataframe before operating.

For example: from a source dataframe, selecting only people older than 30:

import pandas as pd

# source dataframe
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'name':['john','mary','peter','nancy','gary'],
    'age':[22,33,27,22,31],
    'state':['AK','DC','CA','CA','NY']
})
  • BAD (operating on the source dataframe directly)

    # create a derived dataset for people over 30 years of age
    df_over_30_years = df[df['age']>30]
    
    # and add a column
    df_over_30_years['new_column'] = 'some_value'
    #>>> SettingWithCopyWarning: 
    #>>> A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
    #>>> Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
    
  • GOOD: (call copy() on the source dataframe first, and then add a new column)

    # by using .copy(), you're not operating on the source dataframe anymore!
    df_over_30_years = df.copy()[df['age']>30]
    
    # no error now
    df_over_30_years['new_column'] = 'some_value'
    

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