Pandas How To Uncategorized How to handle distributed computing in Pandas

How to handle distributed computing in Pandas

Pandas is a popular Python library for data analysis and manipulation. It offers a rich set of features and functionalities for working with tabular data, such as data frames, series, and indexes. However, Pandas is not designed for distributed computing, which means that it can be slow or inefficient when dealing with large datasets that do not fit in memory.

Fortunately, there are some ways to handle distributed computing in Pandas, such as using Dask, Modin, or Ray. We will explore these options and compare their pros and cons.


Dask is a library that provides parallel and distributed computing capabilities for Python. It can scale Pandas operations across multiple cores or clusters, using a familiar API and syntax. Dask also supports other libraries such as NumPy, Scikit-learn, and Xarray.

To use Dask with Pandas, you need to install Dask and import the dask.dataframe module. Then, you can create a Dask DataFrame from a Pandas DataFrame using the dd.from_pandas function. Alternatively, you can read data directly from various sources using the dd.read_* functions.

For example, suppose we have a CSV file called data.csv that contains some data about customers. We can read it into a Dask DataFrame as follows:

import pandas as pd
import dask.dataframe as dd

df = dd.read_csv('data.csv')

Now, we can perform various operations on the Dask DataFrame, such as filtering, grouping, aggregating, joining, etc. For example, we can compute the average age of customers by gender as follows:

avg_age = df.groupby('gender')['age'].mean().compute()

The compute method triggers the actual computation and returns a Pandas Series. Note that Dask uses lazy evaluation, which means that it does not execute any operation until you call compute or persist.

One of the advantages of Dask is that it can handle data that does not fit in memory by splitting it into smaller partitions and processing them in parallel. You can control the size of the partitions by passing the chunksize argument to the dd.read_* functions or the npartitions argument to the dd.from_pandas function.

Another advantage of Dask is that it can scale up to multiple machines using a distributed scheduler. You can set up a Dask cluster using the dask.distributed module and connect to it using the Client class. For example:

from dask.distributed import Client

client = Client('localhost:8786')

This will allow you to distribute your computations across the workers in the cluster and monitor their progress using a web dashboard.

Some of the disadvantages of Dask are that it does not support all Pandas features and functions, such as pivot tables, rolling windows, and some string methods. Also, Dask may introduce some overhead and complexity when dealing with small datasets that fit in memory.


Modin is another library that aims to speed up Pandas operations by using distributed computing. Unlike Dask, Modin does not require any changes to your existing code. You just need to replace the import statement of Pandas with Modin and let it handle the rest.

To use Modin with Pandas, you need to install Modin and one of its backends, such as Ray or Dask. Then, you can import Modin as follows:

import modin.pandas as pd

Now, you can use Pandas as usual and Modin will automatically parallelize and distribute your computations across multiple cores or clusters.

For example, suppose we have the same CSV file called data.csv as before. We can read it into a Modin DataFrame as follows:

df = pd.read_csv('data.csv')

Then, we can perform the same operations as before and get the same results:

avg_age = df.groupby('gender')['age'].mean()

One of the advantages of Modin is that it is very easy to use and does not require any code modifications. It also supports most of the Pandas API and functions.

One of the disadvantages of Modin is that it may not be compatible with some other libraries or tools that depend on Pandas internals. Also, Modin may not be able to handle some edge cases or errors gracefully.

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