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Apply a Function to a Pandas Series

In this tutorial, we will look at how to apply a function to each value of a pandas series.

To apply a function on each value of a pandas series you can use the pandas series apply() function and pass the function you want to apply as an argument. The following is the syntax:

# using pandas series apply()
s_new = s.apply(your_func)

Here, s is the original pandas series you want to apply the function on, and “your_func” is the function you want to apply. You can also pass lambda functions or built-in python functions instead of a custom function.

Let’s look at some examples of applying a function to a series. First, we’ll create a sample series of names of employees in an office that we’ll be using throughout this tutorial.

import pandas as pd

# pandas series of Full Names
names = pd.Series(data=['Jake Peralta', 'Doug Judy', 'Charles Boyle', 'Gina Linetti'])

# display the series


0     Jake Peralta
1        Doug Judy
2    Charles Boyle
3     Gina Linetti
dtype: object

We now have a pandas series containing full names of employees at an office.

You can apply custom and built-in functions to the values of a pandas series. Let’s create a new series containing the lengths of the names in the original series.

# apply function to series
name_lengths = names.apply(len)
# print the returned series


0    12
1     9
2    13
3    12
dtype: int64

In the above example, we applied the python built-in len function which gives the length of objects. Here, the returned series contains the length of names from the series “names”.

You can also pass a lambda function as an argument to the apply() function. Using lambda function is quite common when applying simple functions to series and dataframes without explicitly defining the function.

# apply function to series
name_caps = names.apply(lambda x: x.upper())
# print the returned series


1        DOUG JUDY
dtype: object

In the above example, we use a lambda function to get a series with names from the original series in upper case.

You can also apply custom functions to a series using the apply() function. Let’s create a custom function to return only the first name.

# custom function
def get_first_name(n):
    words = n.split(" ")
    return words[0]

# apply function to series
first_names = names.apply(get_first_name)
# print the returned series


0       Jake
1       Doug
2    Charles
3       Gina
dtype: object

The returned series contains values resulting from applying the custom function “get_first_name()” on the original series.

You can also pass additional arguments when using the apply() function. For example, let’s modify the above function to return only the first k characters of the first name where k is an additional argument.

# custom function
def get_first_name(n, k):
    words = n.split(" ")
    return words[0][:k]

# apply function to series
first_names = names.apply(get_first_name, args=(4,))
# print the returned series


0    Jake
1    Doug
2    Char
3    Gina
dtype: object

In the above example, we pass the additional argument as a tuple to the args parameter of the apply() function. Note that the returned series only has the first four characters of the first name.

For more on the pandas series apply() function, refer to its documentation.

With this, we come to the end of this tutorial. The code examples and results presented in this tutorial have been implemented in a Jupyter Notebook with a python (version 3.8.3) kernel having pandas version 1.0.5

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  • Piyush is a data scientist passionate about using data to understand things better and make informed decisions. In the past, he's worked as a Data Scientist for ZS and holds an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. His hobbies include watching cricket, reading, and working on side projects.