Practical Business Python

Taking care of business, one python script at a time

Tue 18 February 2020

Python Tools for Record Linking and Fuzzy Matching

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

Record linking and fuzzy matching are terms used to describe the process of joining two data sets together that do not have a common unique identifier. Examples include trying to join files based on people’s names or merging data that only have organization’s name and address.

This problem is a common business challenge and difficult to solve in a systematic way - especially when the data sets are large. A naive approach using Excel and vlookup statements can work but requires a lot of human intervention. Fortunately, python provides two libraries that are useful for these types of problems and can support complex matching algorithms with a relatively simple API.


Mon 23 December 2019

Creating Interactive Dashboards from Jupyter Notebooks

Posted by Duarte O.Carmo in articles   

I am pleased to have another guest post from Duarte O.Carmo. He wrote series of posts in July on report generation with Papermill that were very well received. In this article, he will explore how to use Voilà and Plotly Express to convert a Jupyter notebook into a standalone interactive web site. In addition, this article will show examples of collecting data through an API endpoint, performing sentiment analysis on that data and show multiple approaches to deploying the dashboard.


Mon 16 December 2019

Finding Natural Breaks in Data with the Fisher-Jenks Algorithm

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

This article is inspired by a tweet from Peter Baumgartner. In the tweet he mentioned the Fisher-Jenks algorithm and showed a simple example of ranking data into natural breaks using the algorithm. Since I had never heard about it before, I did some research.

After learning more about it, I realized that it is very complimentary to my previous article on Binning Data and it is intuitive and easy to use in standard pandas analysis. It is definitely an approach I would have used in the past if I had known it existed.

I suspect many people are like me and have never heard of the concept of natural breaks before but have probably done something similar on their own data. I hope this article will expose this simple and useful approach to others so that they can add it to their python toolbox.

The rest of this article will discuss what the Jenks optimization method (or Fisher-Jenks algorithm) is and how it can be used as a simple tool to cluster data using “natural breaks”.


Tue 26 November 2019

Tips for Selecting Columns in a DataFrame

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

This article will discuss several tips and shortcuts for using iloc to work with a data set that has a large number of columns. Even if you have some experience with using iloc you should learn a couple of helpful tricks to speed up your own analysis and avoid typing lots of column names in your code.


Mon 28 October 2019

Cleaning Up Currency Data with Pandas

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

The other day, I was using pandas to clean some messy Excel data that included several thousand rows of inconsistently formatted currency values. When I tried to clean it up, I realized that it was a little more complicated than I first thought. Coincidentally, a couple of days later, I followed a twitter thread which shed some light on the issue I was experiencing. This article summarizes my experience and describes how to clean up messy currency fields and convert them into a numeric value for further analysis. The concepts illustrated here can also apply to other types of pandas data cleanup tasks.