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Python for Data Analysis, 2nd Edition by Wes McKinney

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Chapter 8. Data Wrangling: Join, Combine, and Reshape

In many applications, data may be spread across a number of files or databases or be arranged in a form that is not easy to analyze. This chapter focuses on tools to help combine, join, and rearrange data.

First, I introduce the concept of hierarchical indexing in pandas, which is used extensively in some of these operations. I then dig into the particular data manipulations. You can see various applied usages of these tools in Chapter 14.

8.1 Hierarchical Indexing

Hierarchical indexing is an important feature of pandas that enables you to have multiple (two or more) index levels on an axis. Somewhat abstractly, it provides a way for you to work with higher dimensional data in a lower dimensional form. Let’s start with a simple example; create a Series with a list of lists (or arrays) as the index:

In [9]: data = pd.Series(np.random.randn(9),
   ...:                  index=[['a', 'a', 'a', 'b', 'b', 'c', 'c', 'd', 'd'],
   ...:                         [1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 2, 3]])

In [10]: data
Out[10]: 
a  1   -0.204708
   2    0.478943
   3   -0.519439
b  1   -0.555730
   3    1.965781
c  1    1.393406
   2    0.092908
d  2    0.281746
   3    0.769023
dtype: float64

What you’re seeing is a prettified view of a Series with a MultiIndex as its index. The “gaps” in the index display mean “use the label directly above”:

In [11]: data.index
Out[11]: 
MultiIndex(levels=[['a', 'b', 'c', 'd'], [1, 2, 3]],
           labels=[[0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3], [0, 1, 2, 0, 2, 0, 1, 1, 2]])

With a hierarchically indexed object, so-called partial

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