How to create a large pandas dataframe from an sql query without running out of memory?

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Question :

How to create a large pandas dataframe from an sql query without running out of memory?

I have trouble querying a table of > 5 million records from MS SQL Server database. I want to select all of the records, but my code seems to fail when selecting to much data into memory.

This works:

import as psql
sql = "SELECT TOP 1000000 * FROM MyTable" 
data = psql.read_frame(sql, cnxn)

…but this does not work:

sql = "SELECT TOP 2000000 * FROM MyTable" 
data = psql.read_frame(sql, cnxn)

It returns this error:

File "inference.pyx", line 931, in pandas.lib.to_object_array_tuples
(pandaslib.c:42733) Memory Error

I have read here that a similar problem exists when creating a dataframe from a csv file, and that the work-around is to use the ‘iterator’ and ‘chunksize’ parameters like this:

read_csv('exp4326.csv', iterator=True, chunksize=1000)

Is there a similar solution for querying from an SQL database? If not, what is the preferred work-around? Should I use some other methods to read the records in chunks? I read a bit of discussion here about working with large datasets in pandas, but it seems like a lot of work to execute a SELECT * query. Surely there is a simpler approach.

Asked By: slizb


Answer #1:

Update: Make sure to check out the answer below, as Pandas now has built-in support for chunked loading.

You could simply try to read the input table chunk-wise and assemble your full dataframe from the individual pieces afterwards, like this:

import pandas as pd
import as psql
chunk_size = 10000
offset = 0
dfs = []
while True:
  sql = "SELECT * FROM MyTable limit %d offset %d order by ID" % (chunk_size,offset) 
  dfs.append(psql.read_frame(sql, cnxn))
  offset += chunk_size
  if len(dfs[-1]) < chunk_size:
full_df = pd.concat(dfs)

It might also be possible that the whole dataframe is simply too large to fit in memory, in that case you will have no other option than to restrict the number of rows or columns you’re selecting.

Answered By: ThePhysicist

Answer #2:

As mentioned in a comment, starting from pandas 0.15, you have a chunksize option in read_sql to read and process the query chunk by chunk:

sql = "SELECT * FROM My_Table"
for chunk in pd.read_sql_query(sql , engine, chunksize=5):


Answered By: Kamil Sindi

Answer #3:

Code solution and remarks.

# Create empty list
dfl = []  

# Create empty dataframe
dfs = pd.DataFrame()  

# Start Chunking
for chunk in pd.read_sql(query, con=conct, ,chunksize=10000000):

    # Start Appending Data Chunks from SQL Result set into List

# Start appending data from list to dataframe
dfs = pd.concat(dfl, ignore_index=True)

However, my memory analysis tells me that even though the memory is released after each chunk is extracted, the list is growing bigger and bigger and occupying that memory resulting in a net net no gain on free RAM.

Would love to hear what the author / others have to say.

Answered By: flying_fluid_four

Answer #4:

If you want to limit the number of rows in output, just use:

data = psql.read_frame(sql, cnxn,chunksize=1000000).__next__()
Answered By: Dharsanborn98

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