Converting Python Pandas Period Objects to Timestamps with Monthly Frequency

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: In data analysis and manipulation with Python’s Pandas library, it is a common requirement to convert period objects representing time intervals into actual timestamps. This article tackles the specific challenge of converting a period with a monthly frequency into a corresponding timestamp. For instance, converting the monthly period ‘2023-01’ should result in the timestamp resembling the first day of January 2023.

Method 1: Using to_timestamp() Function

One of the simplest approaches to convert a Pandas Period object to a timestamp is by using the to_timestamp() method which is inherently available in Pandas. This method converts a given Period object, representing a timespan, into a Timestamp object which represents a particular moment in time.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Creating a Period object with monthly frequency
period = pd.Period('2023-01', freq='M')

# Converting to Timestamp
timestamp = period.to_timestamp()


2023-01-01 00:00:00

This code snippet first creates a Period object representing January 2023. The to_timestamp() function is then called to convert this period into a Timestamp object, which defaults to the beginning of the specified periodβ€”hence, the first day of January 2023 at midnight.

Method 2: Using start_time Property

Pandas Period objects have a convenient property named start_time, which directly returns the Timestamp corresponding to the start of the period. This eliminates the need for any explicit conversion function.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Creating a Period object with monthly frequency
period = pd.Period('2023-04', freq='M')

# Getting the start timestamp
timestamp = period.start_time


2023-04-01 00:00:00

The example above illustrates the use of the start_time property on our Period object for April 2023. Accessing this property directly yields the Timestamp at the start of April β€” midnight of the first day.

Method 3: Using end_time Property

Alternatively, if one is interested in the end of the period, the end_time property of a Pandas Period object can be used. This returns the Timestamp that marks the end of the specified period.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Creating a Period object with monthly frequency
period = pd.Period('2023-06', freq='M')

# Getting the end timestamp
timestamp = period.end_time


2023-06-30 23:59:59.999999999

In this code snippet, the end_time property is illustrated. It retrieves the Timestamp that is precisely one nanosecond before the subsequent period begins; in this case, the last nanosecond of June 2023.

Method 4: Using PeriodIndex and to_timestamp()

For a collection of Period objects, one can convert them into timestamps by creating a PeriodIndex and then calling the to_timestamp() method on the index. This is useful for batch conversions.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Creating a PeriodIndex with monthly frequency
period_index = pd.period_range('2023-01', periods=3, freq='M')

# Converting the whole PeriodIndex to Timestamps
timestamps = period_index.to_timestamp()


DatetimeIndex(['2023-01-01', '2023-02-01', '2023-03-01'], dtype='datetime64[ns]', freq=None)

This efficiently converts a range of Period objects to their corresponding Timestamps, showcasing an approach suitable for transforming series or data frames with period values.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Lambda Function with apply()

Using the DataFrame’s apply() function along with a lambda function can quickly convert a column containing Period objects to a column of Timestamps.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Create a DataFrame with a Column of Periods
df = pd.DataFrame({'Periods': [pd.Period('2023-07', freq='M'), pd.Period('2023-08', freq='M')]})

# Apply a lambda to convert each Period to Timestamp
df['Timestamps'] = df['Periods'].apply(lambda p: p.to_timestamp())


  Periods           Timestamps
0  2023-07  2023-07-01 00:00:00
1  2023-08  2023-08-01 00:00:00

Quick and functional, this approach applies a lambda function to each element of the Periods column, converting each Period to its respective Timestamp, effectively creating a new Timestamps column.


  • Method 1: Using to_timestamp(): Straightforward and explicit. Best for individual Period objects. It may require additional parameters for custom cases.
  • Method 2: Using start_time: Quick access to the period’s start time. Particularly efficient for getting the start of a period without extra function calls.
  • Method 3: Using end_time: Quick and convenient to get the period’s end time, but may include the last nanosecond which can be undesirable in certain contexts.
  • Method 4: Using PeriodIndex and to_timestamp(): Best for converting multiple periods simultaneously. Especially useful for working with time series data.
  • Bonus Method 5: Lambda Function with apply(): Great for updating DataFrames, allows for custom conversions using lambda functions, but slight overhead for lambda calls.