Book Review: Python for Data Analysis by Wes McKinney; O’Reilly Media

This review is about this item: Python for Data Analysis


I started reading at this particular book being sceptical. Although I most O’Reilly books I’ve read deliver, this one promises to introduce you to a field that is vast. Python’s various usages in data analysis. Does this one deliver? Certainly!

Let me be more specific. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I got this book for free via O’Reilly’s Blogger Review program. I have some experience in Python and, during the time of my exposure to it, I always read that Python was very powerful in the Data Analysis field, be it Scientific Computing, Financial Computing (up to a point, of course) and others, so naturally, I wanted to read a book to get to study Python’s usage in this field. What got me more hooked into reading this book is that this particular one was written by an expert on the field. The author of the book is also the author of the Pandas library. When I finally got through it, here are my comments on it:

– First this book gives you some information on why the data analysis field matters. For instance it refers to an example, using data analysis to come up with data sets to feed a machine learning algorithm.
– The book has short and concise (and above all, easy to follow) code examples that demonstrate the point of the text very quickly.
– The book provides several realistic use cases of the demonstrated content, so that you can get a good idea of what data analysis is all about.
– Covers (in varying degrees) xml parsing, interaction with HTML and databases. It even makes a small reference to MongoDB!
– It also covers string manipulation (including regular expressions) which is very nice!
– Has a whole chapter dedicating to plotting and visualizing.
– Has several chapters on Numpy and Pandas!
– Has a great chapter focusing on date and time data manipulation and the relevant modules in the Python lib.
– Although this book is better read if you have some Python knowledge already and want to extend your Python knowledge, it also has an appendix which goes through the essential knowledge of the Python programming Language, so even beginners with Python should feel comfortable with it.

Overall, I recommend this book if you want to get a good idea about Python’s usage in Data Analysis, whether you are a Python novice or a Python expert.