Performance of data retrieval from a simple wordlist in a Pandas dataframe with a string based index – II

In my last post I set up a Pandas dataframe with a column containing a (German) wordlist of around 2.2 million words. We created a unique string based index for the dataframe from a column wither "lower case" writing of the words. My eventual objectives are

  1. to find out whether a string like token out of some millions of tokens is a member of the wordlist or not,
  2. to compare n-grams of characters, i.e. (sub-strings) of millions of given strange string tokens with the n-grams of each word in the wordlist.

In the first case a kind of "existence-query" on the wordlist is of major importance. We could work with a condition on a row-value or somehow use the string based index itself. For the second objective we need a requests on column values with "OR" conditions or again a kind of existence-queries on individual columns, which we turn into index structures before.

It found it interesting and a bit frustrating that a lot of introductory articles on the Internet and even books do not comment on performance. In this article we, therefore, compare the performance of different forms of simple data requests on a Pandas dataframe. To learn a bit more about Pandas' response times, we extend the data retrieval requests a bit beyond the objectives listed above: We are going to look for rows where conditions for multiple words are fulfilled.

For the time being we restrict our experiments to a dataframe with just one UNIQUE index. I.e. we do not, yet, work with a multi-index. However, at the end of this article, I am going to look a bit at a dataframe with a NON-UNIQUE index, too.

Characteristics of the dataframe and the "query"

We work on a Pandas dataframe "dfw_smallx" with the following characteristics:

pdx_shape = dfw_smallx.shape
print("shape of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_shape)
pdx_rows = pdx_shape[0]
pdx_cols = pdx_shape[1]
print("rows of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_rows)
print("cols of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_cols)
print("column names", dfw_smallx.columns)
print("index", dfw_smallx.index)
print("index is unique: ", dfw_smallx.index.is_unique)
print('')
print(dfw_smallx.loc[['aachener']])
shape of dfw_smallx =  (2188246, 3)
rows of dfw_smallx =  2188246
cols of dfw_smallx =  3
column names Index(['lower', 'word', 'len'], dtype='object')
index Index(['aachener', 'aachenerin', 'aachenerinnen', 'aachenern', 'aacheners',
       'aachens', 'aal', 'aale', 'aalen', 'aales',
       ...
       'zynisches', 'zynischste', 'zynischsten', 'zynismus', 'zypern',
       'zyperns', 'zypresse', 'zypressen', 'zyste', 'zysten'],
      dtype='object', name='indw', length=2188246)
index is unique:  True

             lower      word  len
indw                             
aachener  aachener  AACHENER    8

The only difference to the dataframe created in the last article is the additional column "lower", repeating the index. As said, the string based index of this dataframe is unique (checked by dfw_smallx.index.is_unique). At the end of this post we shall also have a look at a similar dataframe with a non-unique index.

Query: For a comparison we look at different methods to answer the following question: Are there entries for the words "null", "mann" and "frau" in the list?

We apply each methods a hundred times to get some statistics. I did the experiments on a CPU (i7-6700K). The response time depends a bit on the background load - I took the best result out of three runs.

Unique index: CPU Time for checking the existence of an entry within the index itself

There is a very simple answer to the question, of how one can check the existence of a value in a (string based) index of a Pandas dataframe. We just use

"('STRING-VALUE' in df.index)" !

Let us apply this for three values

b1 = 0; b2=0; b3=0;  
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    if 'null' in dfw_smallx.index:
        b1 = 1
    if 'mann' in dfw_smallx.index:
        b2=1 
    if 'frau' in dfw_smallx.index:
        b3=1
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
b4 = 'gamling' in dfw_smallx.index 
print(b1, b2, b3, b4)
Total CPU time  0.00020675300038419664
NULL
1 1 1 False

Giving me a total time on my old PC of about 2.1e-4 secs. Which - as we are going to see is a pretty good value - for Pandas!

Total time 2.1e-4 secs.    Per query: 6.9e-7 secs.

Unique index: CPU Time for checking the existence of an entry with a Python dictionary

It is interesting to compare the query time required for a simple dictionary.

We first create a usable dictionary with the lower case word strings as the index:

ay_voc = dfw_smallx.to_numpy()
print(ay_voc.shape)
print(ay_voc[0:2, :])

ay_lower = ay_voc[:,0].copy()
d_lower = dict(enumerate(ay_lower))
d_low   = {y:x for x,y in d_lower.items()}
print(d_lower[0])
print(d_low['aachener'])
(2188246, 3)
[['aachener' 'AACHENER' 8]
 ['aachenerin' 'AACHENERIN' 10]]
aachener
0

And then:

b1 = 0; b2 = 0; b3 = 0
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    if 'null' in d_low:
        b1 = 1
    if 'mann' in d_low:
        b2=1 
    if 'frau' in d_low:
        b3=1    
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)

print(b1, b2, b3)
print(d_low['mann'], d_low['frau'])
Total CPU time  8.626400085631758e-05
1 1 1
1179968 612385

Total time 8.6e-5 secs.    Per query: 2.9e-7 secs.

A dictionary is by almost a factor of 2.4 faster regarding a verification of the existence of a given string value in a string based index than related queries on an indexed Pandas series or dataframes!

Unique index: CPU Time for direct "at"-queries by providing individual index values

Now, let us start with repeated query calls on a our dataframe with the "at"-operator:

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    wordx = dfw_smallx.at['null', 'word']
    wordy = dfw_smallx.at['mann', 'word']
    wordz = dfw_smallx.at['frau', 'word']
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  0.0013257559985504486

Total time: 1.3e-3 secs.    Per query: 4.4e-6 secs
This approach is by factors 6.5 and 15 slower than the fastest solutions for Pandas and the dictionary, respectively

Unique index: CPU Time for direct "loc"-queries by providing individual index values

We now compare this with the same queries - but with the "loc"-operator:

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    wordx = dfw_smallx.loc['null', 'word']
    wordy = dfw_smallx.loc['mann', 'word']
    wordz = dfw_smallx.loc['frau', 'word']
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  0.0021894429992244113
NULL

Total time: 2.2e-3 secs.    Per query: 7.3e-6 secs
More than a factor of 10.6 and 25.4 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

Unique index: CPU Time for a query based on a list of index values

Now, let us use a list of index values - something which would be typical for a programmer who wants to save some typing time:

# !!!! Much longer CPU time for a list of index values  
inf = ['null', 'mann', 'frau']
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    wordx = dfw_smallx.loc[inf, 'word'] # a Pandas series 
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
print(wordx)
Total CPU time  0.037733839999418706
indw
null    NULL
mann    MANN
frau    FRAU
Name: word, dtype: object

Total time: 3.8e-2 secs.    Per query: 1.3e-4 secs
More than a factor of 182 and 437 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

Unique index: CPU Time for a query based on a list of index values with index.isin()

We now try a small variation by

ix = dfw_smallx.index.isin(['null', 'mann', 'frau'])
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    wordx = dfw_smallx.loc[ix, 'word']
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  0.058356915000331355

Total time: 5.8e-2 secs.    Per query: 1.9e-4 secs
We are loosing ground, again.
More than a factor of 282 and 667 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

Unique index: CPU Time for a query based on a list of index values with index.isin() within loc()

Yet, another seemingly small variation

inf = ['null', 'mann', 'frau']
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    wordx = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx.index.isin(inf), 'word']
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  6.466159620998951

OOOOPs!
Total time: 6.48 secs.    Per query: 2.2e-2 secs
More than a factor of 31000 and 75000 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

Unique index: Query by values for a column and ignoring the index

What happens if we ignore the index and query by values of a column?

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    pdq = dfw_smallx.query('indw == "null" | indw == "mann" | indw == "frau" ')
    #print(pdq)
    w1 = pdq.iloc[0,0]
    w2 = pdq.iloc[1,0]
    w3 = pdq.iloc[2,0]
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  16.747838952000166

Well, well - the worst result so far!
Total time: 16.75 secs.    Per query: 5.6e-2 secs
More than a factor of 81000 and 194000 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

The following takes even longer:

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    word3 = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx['word'] == 'NULL', 'word']
    word4 = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx['word'] == 'MANN', 'word']
    word5 = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx['word'] == 'FRAU', 'word']
    w4 = word3.iloc[0]
    w5 = word4.iloc[0]
    w6 = word4.iloc[0]
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
Total CPU time  22.6538158809999

Total time: 22.76 secs.    Per query: 7.6e-2 secs
More than a factor of 109000 and 262000 slower than the fastest Pandas solution and the dictionary, respectively.

However:

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    pdl = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx['word'].isin(['MANN', 'FRAU', 'NULL' ]), 'word']
    w6 = pdl.iloc[0]
    w7 = pdl.iloc[1]
    w8 = pdl.iloc[2]
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)

This gives us 6.576 secs again.

Unique index: Query by values of a dictionary and ignoring the index

Here a comparison to a dictionary is interesting again:

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
b1 = 0; b2 = 0; b3 = 0
for i in range(0, 100):
    if 'null' in d_lower.values():
        b1 = 1
    if 'mann' in d_lower.values():
        b2=1 
    if 'frau' in d_lower.values():
        b3=1    
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
print(b1, b2, b3)
Total CPU time  4.572028649003187
1 1 1

So a dictionary is faster than Pandas - even if we ignore the index and query for certain values!

Intermediate conclusions

What do the above results tell us about the handling of Pandas dataframes or series with strings as elements and an unique index containing strings, too?

The first thing is:

If possible do not use a Pandas dataframe at all! Turn (two) required (string) columns of the dataframe into a string indexed dictionary!

In our case a simple solution was to turn a column with lower case writings of the words into a dictionary index and using an enumerated column as values.

A dictionary with string based keys will give you by far the fastest solution if you are only interested in the existence of a certain key-value.

Now, if you want to use Pandas to check the existence of a certain string in a unique index or column the following rules should be followed:

  • Whenever possible use a (unique) index based on the strings whose existence you are interested in.
  • For pure existence checks of a string in the index use a query of the type
    "if 'STRING' in df.index".
    This will give you the fastest solution with Pandas.
  • Whenever possible use a series of simple queries - each for exactly one index value and one or multiple column labels instead of providing multiple index values in a list.
  • If you want to use the "at" or "loc"-operators, prefer the "at"-operator for a unique index! The form should be
    result = df.at['IndexValue', 'ColLabel'].
    The loc-operator
    result = df.loc['IndexValue', 'colLabel1', 'colLabel2', ...] is somewhat slower, but the right choice if you want to retrieve multiple columns for a single row index value.
  • Avoid results which themselves become Pandas dataframes or series - i.e. results which contain a multitude of rows and column values
  • Avoid queries on column-values! The CPU times to produce results depending on conditions for a column may vary; factors between 6 and 200,000 in comparison to the fastest solution for single values are possible.

Using a string based index in a Pandas dataframe is pretty fast because Pandas then uses a hash-function and a hashtable to index datarows. Very much like Python handles dictionaries.

Dataframes with a non-unique string index

Let us now quickly check what happens if we turn to a vocabulary with a non-unique string based index. We can easily get this from the standard checked German wordlist provided by T.Brischalle.

dfw_fullx = pd.read_csv('/py/projects/CA22/catch22/Wortlisten/word_list_german_spell_checked.txt', dtype='str', na_filter=False)
dfw_fullx.columns = ['word']
dfw_fullx['indw'] = dfw_fullx['word']

pdfx_shape = dfw_fullx.shape
print('')
print("shape of dfw_fullx = ", pdfx_shape)
pdfx_rows = pdfx_shape[0]
pdfx_cols = pdfx_shape[1]
print("rows of dfw_fullx = ", pdfx_rows)
print("cols of dfw_fullx = ", pdfx_cols)

giving:

shape of dfw_fullx =  (2243546, 2)
rows of dfw_fullx =  2243546
cols of dfw_fullx =  2

We set an index as before by lowercase word values:

dfw_fullx['indw'] = dfw_fullx['word'].str.lower()
dfw_fullx = dfw_fullx.set_index('indw')

word_null = dfw_fullx.loc['null', 'word']
word_mann = dfw_fullx.loc['mann', 'word']
word_frau = dfw_fullx.loc['frau', 'word']

print('')
print(word_null)
print('')
print(word_mann)
print('')
print(word_frau)

Giving:

indw
null    null
null    Null
null    NULL
Name: word, dtype: object

indw
mann    Mann
mann    MANN
Name: word, dtype: object

indw
frau    Frau
frau    FRAU
Name: word, dtype: object

You see directly that the index is not unique.

Non-unique index: CPU Time for direct queries by with single index values

We repeat our first experiment from above :

v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
for i in range(0, 100):
    pds1 = dfw_fullx.loc['null', 'word']
    pds2 = dfw_fullx.loc['mann', 'word']
    pds3 = dfw_fullx.loc['frau', 'word']
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
print(pds1) 

This results in:

indw
null    null
null    Null
null    NULL
Name: word, dtype: object
TotalCPU time  7.232291821999752

7.2 secs! Not funny!

The reason is that the whole index must be checked for entries of the given value.

Why the whole dataset? Well, Pandas cannot be sure that the string based index is sorted in a way!

Non-unique index: CPU Time for direct queries by single index values and a sorted index

We remedy the above problem by sorting the index:

dfw_fullx = dfw_fullx.sort_index(axis=0)

And afterwards we try our test from above again - this time giving us :

indw
null    Null
null    null
null    NULL
Name: word, dtype: object
Total CPU time  0.04120599599991692

0.041 secs - much faster. On average the response time now depends on log(N) because Pandas now can use a binary search - with N being the number of elements in the index.

Conclusions

For me as a beginner with Pandas the multitude of options to retrieve values from a Pandas series or dataframe was confusing and their relation to index involvement and the construction of the "result set" was not always obvious. Even more surprising, however, was the impact on performance:

As soon as you hit multiple rows by a "query" a Pandas series or dataframe is constructed which contains the results. This may have advantages regarding the presentation of the result data and advantages regarding a convenient post-query handling of the results. It is however a costly procedure in terms of CPU time. In database language:

For Pandas building the result set can become more costly than the query itself - even for short result sets. This was in a way a bit disappointing.

If you are interested in just the existence of a certain string values in a list of unique strings just create a dictionary - indexed by your string values. Then check the existence of a string value by "('STRING-VALUE' in dict)".
You do not need Pandas or this task!

When you want to use an (indexed) Pandas for existence checks then query like "if 'STRING-VALUE' in df.index" to check the existence of a string value in the properly created string based index.

When you need a bunch of values in various columns for given indices go for the "at"-operator and individual queries for each index value - and not a list.

When retrieving values you should, in general, use a direct form of "selecting" by just one index value and (if possible) one column value with the "at"-operator (df.at['indexValue', 'columnLabel']). The loc-operator is up to a factor 1,7 slower - but relevant if you query for more than one columns.

Non-unique indices cost time, too. If you have no chance to associate your dataframe with unique index that suits your objectives then sort the non-unique index at least.

Performance of data retrieval from a simple wordlist in a Pandas dataframe with a string based index – I

When preparing a bunch of texts for Machine Learning [ML] there may come a point where you need to eliminate probable junk words or simply wrongly written words form the texts. This is especially true for scanned texts. Let us assume that you have already applied a tokenizer to your texts and that you have created a "bag of words" [BoW] for each individual text or even a global one for all of your texts.

Now, you may want to compare each word in your bag with a checked list of words - a "reference vocabulary" - which you assume to comprise the most relevant words of a language. If you do not find a specific word of your bag in your reference "vocabulary" you may want to put this word into a second bag for a later, more detailed analysis. Such an analysis may be based on a table where the vocabulary words are split in n-grams of characters. These n-grams will stored in additional columns added to your wordlist, thus turning it into a 2-dimensional array of data.

Such tasks require a tool which - among other things -

  • is able to load 1-, 2-dimensional and sometimes 3-dimensional data structures in a fast way from CSV-files into series-, table- or cube-like data structures in RAM,
  • provides tools to select, filter, retrieve and manipulate data from rows,columns and cells,
  • provides tools to operate on a multitude of rows or columns,
  • provides tools to create some statistics on the data.

All of it pretty fast - which means that the tool must support the creation of an index or indices and/or support vectorized operations (mostly on columns).

I had read in ML books the Pandas is such a tool for a Python environment. A way to accomplish our task would be to load the reference vocabulary into a Pandas structure and check the words of the BoW(s) against it. This means that you try to find the word in the reference list and evaluate the result (positive or negative). And when you are done with this challenge you may want to retrieve additional information from a 2-dimensional Pandas data structure.

This article is about the performance of some data retrieval experiments I recently did on a wordlist of around 2 million words. The objective was to check the existence of tokenized words of some 200.000 texts, each with around 2000 tokens, against this wordlist being embedded in a Pandas dataframe and also to retrieve additional information from other columns of the dataframe.

As we talk about scanned texts and OCR treatment it is very probable that the number of tokens you have to compare with your vocabulary is well above 10 millions. It is clear that there is an requirement for performance if you want to work with a standard Linux PC.

Multiple ways to retrieve or query information from a Pandas series or dataframe

When I started to really use Pandas some days ago I became a bit overwhelmed by the documentation - and the differences in comparison to databases. After having used a database like MySQL for years I had a certain vision about the handling of "table"-like data and related performance. Well, I had to swallow some camels!

And when I started to really care about performance I also realized that there where very many ways to "query" a Pandas dataframe - and not all will give you the same speed in data retrieval.

This article, therefore, dives a bit below the glittering surface of Pandas and looks at different methods to retrieve rows and certain cell values out of a simple "Pandas dataframe". To work with some practical data I used a reference vocabulary for the German language based on Wikipedia articles.

The first objective was very simple: Verify that a certain word is an element in the reference vocabulary.
The second objective was a natural extension: Retrieve rows (with multiple columns) for fitting entries - sometimes multiple entries with different word writings.

I was somewhat astonished top see factors between at least 16 and 10.000 for real data retrieval, in comparison with the fastest solution. Just checking the existence of a word in the wordlist proved to be extremely faster after having created a suitable index - and not using any data columns at all.

The response times of Pandas depended strongly on the "query" method and the usage of an index.

I hope the information given below and in the next article is useful for other beginners with Pandas. I shall speak of a "query" when I want to select data from a Pandas dataframe and a "resultset" when addressing one or a collection of data rows as the result of a query. Can't forget my time with databases ...

I assume that you already have a valid Pandas installation in a Python 3 environment on your Linux PC. I did my simple experiments with a Jupyter notebook, but, of course, other tools can be used, too.

Loading an example wordlist into a Pandas dataframe

For my small "query" experiments I first loaded a simple list with around 2.1 million words from a text file into a Pandas data structure. This operation created a so called "Pandas series" and also produced an unique index - appearing as integers, which marked each row of the data with a specific integer.

Then I created two additional columns: The first one with all words written in lower case letters. The second one containing the number of characters of the word's string. By these operations I created a real 2-dim object - a so called Pandas "dataframe".

Let us follow this line of operations as a first step. So, where do we get a wordlist from?

A friendly engineer (Torsten Brischalle) has provided a German word-list based on Wikipedia which we can use as an example.
See: http://www.aaabbb.de/WordList/WordList.php

We first import the "uppercase"-wordlist. You can download from this link. On your Linux PC you expand the 7zip archive by standard Linux tools.

This "uppercase" list has the advantage that an index which we will later base on the lowercase writing of the words will (hopefully) be unique. The more extensive wordlist also provided by Brischalle instead comprises multiple writings for some words. The related index would, therefore, not be unique. We shall see that this has a major impact on the response time of the resulting Pandas dataframe.

The wordlists, after 7zip-expansion, all are very simple text-files: Each line contains just one word.

We shall nevertheless work with a 2-dim general Pandas "dataframe" instead of a "series". A reason is that in a real data analysis environment we may want to add multiple columns with more information later on. E.g. columns for n-grams of character sequences constituting the word or for other information as frequencies, consonant to vocal ratio, etc. And then we would work on 2-dim data structures.

Loading the data into a Pandas dataframe and creating an index based on lowercase word representation

Let us import the wordlist data by the help of some Python code in a Jupyter cell (in my case from a directory "/py/projects/CA22/catch22/Wortlisten/"):

import os
import time
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

dfw_smallx = pd.read_csv('/py/projects/CA22/catch22/Wortlisten/word_list_german_uppercase_spell_checked.txt', dtype='str', na_filter=False)
dfw_smallx.columns = ['word']
dfw_smallx['indw'] = dfw_smallx['word']

pdx_shape = dfw_smallx.shape
print("shape of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_shape)
pdx_rows = pdx_shape[0]
pdx_cols = pdx_shape[1]
print("rows of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_rows)
print("cols of dfw_smallx = ", pdx_cols)

dfw_smallx.head(8)

You see that we need to import the Pandas module besides other standard modules. Then you find that Pandas obviously provides a function "read_csv()" to import CSV like text files. You find more about it in the Pandas documentation here.
The CSV import should in our case be a matter of a few seconds, only.

A column name or column names can be added to a Pandas series or Pandas dataframe, respectively, afterward.

Why did I use the parameter "na_filter"? Well, this was done to handle a special value in the wordlist, namely "NULL". You may remember that this is a key-word in Python! We would get an empty entry in the dataframe for this input value without the named parameter. You find more information on this topic in the Pandas documentation on the "read_csv()"-function.

The reader also notices that I just named the single data column (resulting from the import) 'word' and then copied this column to another new column called 'indw'. I shall use the latter column as an index in a minute. I then print out some information on the dataframe:

shape of dfw_smallx =  (2188246, 2)
rows of dfw_smallx =  2188246
cols of dfw_smallx =  2

	word 			indw
0 	AACHENER 		AACHENER
1 	AACHENERIN 		AACHENERIN
2 	AACHENERINNEN 	AACHENERINNEN
3 	AACHENERN 		AACHENERN
4 	AACHENERS 		AACHENERS
5 	AACHENS 		AACHENS
6 	AAL 			AAL
7 	AALE			AALE

Almost 2.2 million words. OK, I do not like uppercase. I want a lowercase representation to be used as an index later on. This gives me the opportunity to apply an operation to a whole column with 2.2 mio words.

The creation of our string based index can be achieved by the "set_index()" function:

dfw_smallx['indw'] = dfw_smallx['word'].str.lower()
dfw_smallx = dfw_smallx.set_index('indw')
dfw_smallx.head(5)

Leading after less than 0.5 secs (!) to:

 				word
indw 	
aachener 		AACHENER
aachenerin 		AACHENERIN
aachenerinnen 	AACHENERINNEN
aachenern 		AACHENERN
aacheners 		AACHENERS

Now, let us add one more column containing the length information on the word(s).

This can be done by two methods

  • dfw_smallx['len'] = dfw_smallx['word'].str.len()
  • dfw_smallx['len'] = dfw_smallx['word'].apply(len)

The second method is a bit faster (by a factor of 0.7), but does not work on NaN cells of a column. In our case no problem, we get:

# A a column for len information 
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()
dfw_smallx['len'] = dfw_smallx['word'].apply(len)
v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
dfw_smallx.head(3)

Total CPU time  0.3626117290004913

			word 			len
indw 		
aachener 		AACHENER 		8
aachenerin 		AACHENERIN 		10
aachenerinnen 	AACHENERINNEN 	13

Basics of addressing data in a Pandas dataframe

Ok, we have loaded our reference list of words into a dataframe. A Pandas "dataframe" basically is a 2-dimensional data structure based on Numpy array technology for the columns. Now, we want to address data in specific rows or cells. Below I repeat some basics for the retrieval of single values from a dataframe:

Each "cell" has a two dimensional integer-"index" - a tuple [i,j], with "i" identifying a row and "j" a column. You can use respective integer values by the "iloc[]"-operator. E.g. dfw_smallx.iloc[2,1] will give you the value "13".

The "loc[]"-operator instead works with "labels" given to the rows and columns; in the most primitive form as :

dataframe.loc[row label, column label], e.g. dfw_smallx.loc.[ 'aachenerinnen', 'len' ] .

Labels have to be defined. For columns you may define names (often already during construction of the dataframe). For rows you may define an index - as we actually did above. If you want to compare this with databases: You define a primary key (sometimes based on column-combinations).

Other almost equivalent methods

  • iat[] - operator ,
  • at[] - operator,
  • array like usage of the column label + row-index
  • and the so called dot-notation

for the retrieval of single values are presented in the following code snippet:

print(dfw_smallx.iloc[2,1])
print(dfw_smallx.iat[2,1])
print(dfw_smallx['len'][2]) 
print(dfw_smallx.loc['aachenerinnen', 'len'])
print(dfw_smallx.at['aachenerinnen', 'len'])
print(dfw_smallx.len.aachenerinnen)

13
13
13
13
13
13

Note that the "iat[]" and "at[]" operators can only be used for cells, so both row and column values have to be provided; the other methods can be used for more general slicing of columns.

Slicing

Slicing in general supported by the ":" notation - just as in NumPy. So, with the notation "labelvalue1 : labelvalue2" one can define slices. This works even for string label values:

words = dfw_smallx.loc['alt':'altersschwach', 'word':'len']
print(words)
                          word  len
indw                               
alt                        ALT    3
altaachener        ALTAACHENER   11
altablage            ALTABLAGE    9
altablagen          ALTABLAGEN   10
altablagerung    ALTABLAGERUNG   13
...                        ...  ...
altersschnitt    ALTERSSCHNITT   13
altersschnitts  ALTERSSCHNITTS   14
altersschrift    ALTERSSCHRIFT   13
altersschutz      ALTERSSCHUTZ   12
altersschwach    ALTERSSCHWACH   13

[3231 rows x 2 columns]

Queries with conditions on column values - and Pandas objects containing multiple results

Now let us look at some queries with conditions on columns and the form of the "result sets" when more than just a single value is returned in a Pandas response. Multiple return values may mean multiple rows (with one or more column values) or just one row with multiple column values. Two points are noteworthy:

  1. Pandas produces a new dataframe or series with multiple rows if multiple values are returned. Whenever we get a Pandas "object" with an internal structure as a Pandas response, we need to narrow down the result to the particular value we want to see.
  2. To grasp a certain value you need to include some special methods already in the "query" or to apply a method to the result series or dataframe.

An interesting type of "query" for a Pandas dataframe is provided by the "query()"-function: it allows us to retrieve rows or single values by conditions on column entries. But conditions can also be supplied when using the "loc[]" operator:

w1 = dfw_smallx.loc['null', 'word']
pd_w2 = dfw_smallx.loc['null'] # resulting in a series 
w2 = pd_w2[0]
pd_w3 = dfw_smallx.loc[dfw_smallx['word'] == 'NULL', 'word']
w3 = pd_w3[0]
pd_w4 = dfw_smallx.query('word == "NULL"')
w4 = pd_w4.iloc[0,0]
w5 = dfw_smallx.query('word == "NULL"').iloc[0,0]
w6 = dfw_smallx.query('word == "NULL"').word.item()
print("w1 = ", w1)
print("pd_w2 = ", pd_w2)
print("w2 = ", w2)
print("pd_wd3 = ", pd_w3)
print("w3 = ", w3)
print("w4 = ", w4)
print("w5 = ", w5)
print("w6 = ", w6)

I have added a prefix "pd_" to some variables where I expected a Pandas dataframe to be the answer. And really:

w1 =  NULL
pd_w2 =  word    NULL
len        4
Name: null, dtype: object
w2 =  NULL
pd_wd3 =  indw
null    NULL
Name: word, dtype: object
w3 =  NULL
w4 =  NULL
w5 =  NULL
w6 =  NULL

Noteworthy: For loc[] (in contrast to iloc[]) the last value of the slice definition is included in the result set.

Retrieving data by a list of index values

As soon as you dig a bit deeper into the Pandas documentation you will certainly find the following way to retrieve multiple rows by providing a list of of index values:

# Retrieving col values by a list of index values 
inf = ['null', 'mann', 'frau']
wordx = dfw_smallx.loc[inf, 'word']
wx = wordx.iloc[0:3] # resulting in a Pandas series 
print(wx.iloc[0])
print(wx.iloc[1])
print(wx.iloc[2])
NULL
MANN
FRAUp

Intermediate conclusion

The variety of options even in our very simple scenario to retrieve values from a wordlist (with an additional column) is almost overwhelming. They all serve their purpose - depending on the structure of the dataframe and your knowledge on the data positions.

But actually in our scenario for analyzing a BoWs, we have a very simple task ahead of us: We just want to check whether a word or a list of words exists in the list, i.e. if there is an entry for a word (written in small letters) in the list. What about the performance of the different methods for this task?

Actually, there is a very simple answer for the existence check - giving you maximum performance.

But to learn a bit more about the performance of different forms of Pandas queries we also shall look at methods performing some real data retrieval from the columns of a row addressed by some (string) index value.

These will be the topics of the next article. Stay tuned ...

Links

Various ways of "querying" Pandas dataframes
https://www.sharpsightlabs.com/blog/pandas-loc/
https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/10min.html
https://cmsdk.com/python/select-rows-from-a-dataframe-based-on-values-in-a-column-in-pandas.html
https://pythonexamples.org/pandas-dataframe-query/

The book "Mastering Pandas" of Ashish Kumar, 2nd, edition, 2019, Packt Publishing Ltd. may be of help - though it does not really comment on performance issues on this level.

NULL values
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/50683765/how-to-treat-null-as-a-normal-string-with-pandas

Walking a directory tree of text files and detect languages with Python, langdetect and fastText

Whilst preparing text data for ML we sometimes are confronted with a large amount of separate text-files organized in a directory hierarchy. In the last article in this category

Walking a directory tree with Python to eliminate unwanted files

I have shown how we "walk" through such a directory tree of files with the help of Python and os.walk(). We can for example use os.walk() procedure to eliminate unwanted files in the tree.

As an example I discussed a collection of around 200.000 scanned paper pages with typewriter text; the collection contained jpg-files and related OCR-based txt-files. With os.walk() I could easily get rid of the jpg-files.

A subsequent task which awaited me regarding my special text collection was the elimination of those text-files which, with a relatively high probability, were not written in German language. To solve such a problem with Python one needs a module that guesses the language of a given text correctly - in my case despite scanning and OCR errors. In this article I discuss the application of two methods - one based on the standard Python "langdetect" module and the other one based on a special variant of Facebook's "fastText"-algorithm. The latter is by far the faster approach - which is of relevance given the relatively big number of files to analyze.

"langdetect" and its "detect()"-function

To get the "langdetect"-module import it into your virtual Python environment via "pip install langdetect". To test its functionality just present a written text in French and another one in German from respective txt-files to the "detect()"-function of this module - like e.g. in the following Jupyter cell:

from langdetect import detect
import os
import time

ftxt1 = open('/py/projects/CA22/catch22/0034_010.txt', 'r').read()
print(detect(ftxt1))
ftxt2 = open('/py/projects/CA22/catch22/0388_001.txt', 'r').read()
print(detect(ftxt2))

In my test case this gave the result:

fr
de

So, detect() is pretty easy to use.

What about the performance of langdetect.detect()?
Let us look at the performance. For this I just ran os.walk() over the directory tree of my collection and printed out some information for all files not being of German language.

dir_path = "/py/projects/CA22/catch22/"

# use os.walk to recursively run through the directory tree
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()

n = 0
m = 0
for (dirname, subdirs, filesdir) in os.walk(dir_path): 
    subdirs.sort()
    print('[' + dirname + ']')
    for filename in filesdir:
        filepath = os.path.join(dirname, filename) 
        #print(filepath)
        ftext = open(filepath, 'r').read()
        lang = detect(ftext) 
        if lang != 'de':
            print(filepath, ' ', lang)
            m += 1 
        n += 1
    if n > 9999: 
        break

v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)

print("num of files checked: ", n)
print("num of non German files: ", m)

Resulting numbers were:

Total CPU time  72.65049991299747
num of files checked:  10033
num of non German files:  1465

Well, printing in a browser to a Jupyter cell takes some time itself. However, we shall see that this aspect is not really relevant in this example. (The situation would be different if we had to switch contexts between GPU operations and CPU operations whilst printing in real ML applications run on a GPU, primarily.)
In addition we are only interested in relative (CPU) performance when comparing the number later to the result of fastText.

I measured 74 secs for a standard hard disk (no SSD) with printing - observing that everything just ran on one core of the CPU. Without printing the run required 72 secs. All measured with disc caching active and taking an average of three runs on cached data.

So, for my whole collection of 200.000 txt-files I would have to wait more than 25 minutes - even if the files had been opened, read and cached previously. Deleting the files form the disk would cost a bit of extra time in addition.

Without caching - i.e. for an original run I would probably have to wait for around 3 hrs. langdetect.detect() is somewhat slow.

Fasttext

FastText was developed by Facebook. It is used to create word-vector models - which can be embedded in neural networks via special layers. See
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FastText and https://fasttext.cc/.

An original publication on the fastText algorithm can be found at https://arxiv.org/abs/1607.04606. An somewhat less scientific and understandable introduction is presented at:
https://amitness.com/2020/06/fasttext-embeddings/.

Besides supporting a variety of real ML-tasks, fastText also offers a language detection functionality. And a Python is supported, too:

In your virtual Python environment just use "pip install fasttext". In addition on a Linux CLI download a pretrained model for language detection, e.g. as with wget:

wget -O /py/projects/fasttext/lid.176.bin https://dl.fbaipublicfiles.com/fasttext/supervised-models/lid.176.bin

FastText for language detection can be used together with os.walk() as follows:

import fasttext
PRETRAINED_MODEL_PATH = '/py/projects/fasttext/lid.176.bin'
model = fasttext.load_model(PRETRAINED_MODEL_PATH)

dir_path = "/py/projects/CA22/catch22/"

# use os.walk to recursively run through the directory tree
v_start_time = time.perf_counter()

n = 0
m = 0
for (dirname, subdirs, filesdir) in os.walk(dir_path): 
    subdirs.sort()
    #print('[' + dirname + ']')
    for filename in filesdir:
        filepath = os.path.join(dirname, filename) 
        #print(filepath)
        ftext = open(filepath, 'r').read()
        ftext = ftext.replace("\n", " ")
        tupel_lang = model.predict(ftext) 
        #print(tupel_lang)
        lang = tupel_lang[0][0][-2:]
        #print(lang)
        if lang != 'de':
            #print(filepath, ' ', lang) 
            m += 1 
        n += 1
    if n > 9999: 
        break

v_end_time = time.perf_counter()
print("Total CPU time ", v_end_time - v_start_time)
print("num of files checked: ", n)
print("num of non German files: ", m)

Result numbers:

Total CPU time  1.895524049999949
num of files checked:  10033
num of non German files:  1355

Regarding performance fastText is almost by a factor of 38 faster than langdetect.detect() !

Eliminating non-German-files from the collection of 208.000 files took only 42 secs - once the files had been cached. An original delete run without caching took around 320 secs - which is still much faster than a detect()-run on cached data. As said on an (older) HD. This is very acceptable. SSDs would give us an even better performance.

Accuracy of the language detection

The reader certainly has noticed that the number of non-German files detected by fastText is somewhat smaller than what langdetect.detect() gave me. That there is a discrepancy is no wonder: Some of the text files are filled with so many scan and OCR errors that even a human would have problems to detect the original language. I just checked 10 of the files where the different methods showed a discrepancy for the guessed language. In all of these 10 cases the guess of fastText was better.

Conclusion

Although I am not a friend of Facebook they have produced something really useful with their fastText algorithm. Regarding language detection fastText provides a really convincing super-fast and reliable method to guess the main language used in text pieces. It supports Python environments and allows the analysis of a huge amount of text files even on a PC.