What are the pros and cons between get_dummies (Pandas) and OneHotEncoder (Scikit-learn)?

Posted on

Question :

What are the pros and cons between get_dummies (Pandas) and OneHotEncoder (Scikit-learn)?

I’m learning different methods to convert categorical variables to numeric for machine-learning classifiers. I came across the pd.get_dummies method and sklearn.preprocessing.OneHotEncoder() and I wanted to see how they differed in terms of performance and usage.

I found a tutorial on how to use OneHotEncoder() on https://xgdgsc.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/note-on-using-onehotencoder-in-scikit-learn-to-work-on-categorical-features/ since the sklearn documentation wasn’t too helpful on this feature. I have a feeling I’m not doing it correctly…but

Can some explain the pros and cons of using pd.dummies over sklearn.preprocessing.OneHotEncoder() and vice versa? I know that OneHotEncoder() gives you a sparse matrix but other than that I’m not sure how it is used and what the benefits are over the pandas method. Am I using it inefficiently?

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
from sklearn.datasets import load_iris
sns.set()

%matplotlib inline

#Iris Plot
iris = load_iris()
n_samples, m_features = iris.data.shape

#Load Data
X, y = iris.data, iris.target
D_target_dummy = dict(zip(np.arange(iris.target_names.shape[0]), iris.target_names))

DF_data = pd.DataFrame(X,columns=iris.feature_names)
DF_data["target"] = pd.Series(y).map(D_target_dummy)
#sepal length (cm)  sepal width (cm)  petal length (cm)  petal width (cm)  
#0                  5.1               3.5                1.4               0.2   
#1                  4.9               3.0                1.4               0.2   
#2                  4.7               3.2                1.3               0.2   
#3                  4.6               3.1                1.5               0.2   
#4                  5.0               3.6                1.4               0.2   
#5                  5.4               3.9                1.7               0.4   

DF_dummies = pd.get_dummies(DF_data["target"])
#setosa  versicolor  virginica
#0         1           0          0
#1         1           0          0
#2         1           0          0
#3         1           0          0
#4         1           0          0
#5         1           0          0

from sklearn.preprocessing import OneHotEncoder, LabelEncoder
def f1(DF_data):
    Enc_ohe, Enc_label = OneHotEncoder(), LabelEncoder()
    DF_data["Dummies"] = Enc_label.fit_transform(DF_data["target"])
    DF_dummies2 = pd.DataFrame(Enc_ohe.fit_transform(DF_data[["Dummies"]]).todense(), columns = Enc_label.classes_)
    return(DF_dummies2)

%timeit pd.get_dummies(DF_data["target"])
#1000 loops, best of 3: 777 ┬Ás per loop

%timeit f1(DF_data)
#100 loops, best of 3: 2.91 ms per loop
Asked By: O.rka

||

Answer #1:

OneHotEncoder cannot process string values directly. If your nominal features are strings, then you need to first map them into integers.

pandas.get_dummies is kind of the opposite. By default, it only converts string columns into one-hot representation, unless columns are specified.

Answered By: O.rka

Answer #2:

For machine learning, you almost definitely want to use sklearn.OneHotEncoder. For other tasks like simple analyses, you might be able to use pd.get_dummies, which is a bit more convenient.

Note that sklearn.OneHotEncoder has been updated in the latest version so that it does accept strings for categorical variables, as well as integers.

The crux of it is that the sklearn encoder creates a function which persists and can then be applied to new data sets which use the same categorical variables, with consistent results.

from sklearn.preprocessing import OneHotEncoder

# Create the encoder.
encoder = OneHotEncoder(handle_unknown="ignore")
encoder.fit(X_train)    # Assume for simplicity all features are categorical.

# Apply the encoder.
X_train = encoder.transform(X_train)
X_test = encoder.transform(X_test)

Note how we apply the same encoder we created via X_train to the new data set X_test.

Consider what happens if X_test contains different levels than X_train for one of its variables. For example, let’s say X_train["color"] contains only "red" and "green", but in addition to those, X_test["color"] sometimes contains "blue".

If we use pd.get_dummies, X_test will end up with an additional "color_blue" column which X_train doesn’t have, and the inconsistency will probably break our code later on, especially if we are feeding X_test to an sklearn model which we trained on X_train.

And if we want to process the data like this in production, where we’re receiving a single example at a time, pd.get_dummies won’t be of use.

With sklearn.OneHotEncoder on the other hand, once we’ve created the encoder, we can reuse it to produce the same output every time, with columns only for "red" and "green". And we can explicitly control what happens when it encounters the new level "blue": if we think that’s impossible, then we can tell it to throw an error with handle_unknown="error"; otherwise we can tell it to continue and simply set the red and green columns to 0, with handle_unknown="ignore".

Answered By: nos

Answer #3:

why wouldn’t you just cache or save the columns as variable col_list from the resulting get_dummies then use pd.reindex to align the train vs test datasets…. example:

df = pd.get_dummies(data)
col_list = df.columns.tolist()

new_df = pd.get_dummies(new_data)
new_df = new_df.reindex(columns=col_list).fillna(0.00) 
Answered By: Denziloe

Answer #4:

I really like Carl’s answer and upvoted it. I will just expand Carl’s example a bit so that more people hopefully will appreciate that pd.get_dummies can handle unknown. The two examples below shows that pd.get_dummies can accomplish the same thing in handling unknown as OHE .

# data is from @dzieciou's comment above
>>> data =pd.DataFrame(pd.Series(['good','bad','worst','good', 'good', 'bad']))
# new_data has two values that data does not have. 
>>> new_data= pd.DataFrame(
pd.Series(['good','bad','worst','good', 'good', 'bad','excellent', 'perfect']))

Using pd.get_dummies

>>> df = pd.get_dummies(data)
>>> col_list = df.columns.tolist()
>>> print(df)
   0_bad  0_good  0_worst
0      0       1        0
1      1       0        0
2      0       0        1
3      0       1        0
4      0       1        0
5      1       0        0
6      0       0        0
7      0       0        0

>>> new_df = pd.get_dummies(new_data)
# handle unknow by using .reindex and .fillna()
>>> new_df = new_df.reindex(columns=col_list).fillna(0.00)
>>> print(new_df)
#    0_bad  0_good  0_worst
# 0      0       1        0
# 1      1       0        0
# 2      0       0        1
# 3      0       1        0
# 4      0       1        0
# 5      1       0        0
# 6      0       0        0
# 7      0       0        0

Using OneHotEncoder

>>> encoder = OneHotEncoder(handle_unknown="ignore", sparse=False)
>>> encoder.fit(data)
>>> encoder.transform(new_data)
# array([[0., 1., 0.],
#        [1., 0., 0.],
#        [0., 0., 1.],
#        [0., 1., 0.],
#        [0., 1., 0.],
#        [1., 0., 0.],
#        [0., 0., 0.],
#        [0., 0., 0.]])
Answered By: Carl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.