Calculating the Mean Product of Age and Salary in DataFrames

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: The goal is to create a Python function that processes a Pandas DataFrame, which contains at least ‘age’ and ‘salary’ columns. The function should specifically take the second, third, and fourth rows of these columns as input and compute the mean product of these values. For example, given a DataFrame with an ‘age’ column with values [30, 40, 50, 60] and a ‘salary’ column with values [70000, 80000, 90000, 100000], the function should compute the mean product of (40 * 80000), (50 * 90000), and (60 * 100000).

Method 1: Iterative Approach

This method involves iterating over the specified rows using a for-loop and computing the product of ‘age’ and ‘salary’ for each row. It then calculates the mean of these product values. It is a straightforward approach and is easy to read.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

def mean_product(df):
    products = []
    for i in range(1, 4):
        products.append(df.iloc[i]['age'] * df.iloc[i]['salary'])
    return sum(products) / len(products)

# Create a sample DataFrame
data = {'age': [30, 40, 50, 60], 'salary': [70000, 80000, 90000, 100000]}
df = pd.DataFrame(data)

# Call our function

Output: 8166666.666666667

The iterative approach loops through the second to fourth rows of the DataFrame and calculates the product of ‘age’ and ‘salary’ for each row. These product values are then added to a list. The sum of the list is divided by the count of items to find the mean. This approach is simple but may not be as efficient as vectorized operations available in Pandas.

Method 2: Pandas Apply Function

The apply() function in Pandas can be used to apply a custom operation to each row or column of a DataFrame. This method applies a lambda function that computes the product of ‘age’ and ‘salary’, slices the DataFrame for the needed rows, and calculates the mean of resulting products.

Here’s an example:

def mean_product_apply(df):
    return df.iloc[1:4].apply(lambda x: x['age'] * x['salary'], axis=1).mean()

# Call our function

Output: 8166666.666666667

This code snippet utilises the apply() function, passing a lambda that multiplies ‘age’ and ‘salary’ for each row. It specifically targets the rows from second to fourth using iloc[1:4]. The products are computed for these rows, and the mean of these products is returned. This method leverages Pandas built-in functions for a more concise implementation.

Method 3: Vectorized Operations

Vectorized operations in Pandas are efficient ways to perform operations on entire columns without explicit Python for-loops. This can lead to significantly faster computation when working with large datasets. This method performs element-wise multiplication of the ‘age’ and ‘salary’ slices and computes their mean.

Here’s an example:

def mean_product_vectorized(df):
    product_series = df['age'].iloc[1:4] * df['salary'].iloc[1:4]
    return product_series.mean()

# Call our function

Output: 8166666.666666667

By leveraging vectorized operations, this method multiplies the ‘age’ and ‘salary’ columns directly, avoiding the for-loop. The operation is limited to the specified rows using iloc[1:4]. The resulting Series object contains the products, and calling mean() on this Series yields the desired mean product. It is faster than the iterative approach and is very readable.

Method 4: Using NumPy for Calculation

Integrating NumPy can often speed up numeric computations by operating on arrays. This method converts the relevant slices of the DataFrame into NumPy arrays and then computes the mean of the product. Because NumPy operations are executed in compiled code, this can be faster than using Pandas alone.

Here’s an example:

import numpy as np

def mean_product_numpy(df):
    ages = df['age'].values[1:4]
    salaries = df['salary'].values[1:4]
    return np.mean(ages * salaries)

# Call our function

Output: 8166666.666666667

This method extracts the specific slices of the ‘age’ and ‘salary’ columns using values which converts them to NumPy arrays. It then computes the element-wise product of these arrays and uses NumPy’s mean() function to compute the mean. This method can provide performance benefits but introduces an additional dependency on NumPy.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Chaining Operations

For a quick and compact solution, this one-liner method uses Pandas chaining operations to slice, multiply, and average in a single, fluent line of code. While concise, it may be less readable for those unfamiliar with chaining operations.

Here’s an example:

mean_product_one_liner = lambda df: (df['age'].iloc[1:4] * df['salary'].iloc[1:4]).mean()

Output: 8166666.666666667

This one-liner method takes a Pandas DataFrame and returns the mean product of ‘age’ and ‘salary’ for the second to fourth rows. It chains slicing (with iloc), multiplication, and averaging (mean()) operations in a compact lambda function. It offers an elegant and succinct solution but requires a good grasp of Pandas operations to understand at a glance.


  • Method 1: Iterative Approach. Easy to understand but less efficient for larger datasets. The for-loop can be slower than vectorized operations.
  • Method 2: Pandas Apply. More concise than the iterative approach and leverages DataFrame’s methods but still not as fast as vectorized operations.
  • Method 3: Vectorized Operations. Efficient and expressive, making it one of the best choices for performance and readability when using Pandas.
  • Method 4: Using NumPy. Offers potential speed improvements, especially for large datasets, but adds a dependency on the NumPy library.
  • Method 5: Chaining Operations. Extremely concise and efficient but may sacrifice some readability for those not familiar with the technique.