Extracting Frequency from Pandas DateOffset as a String in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: In Python’s Pandas library, it’s common to work with time series data and manipulate date and time values. It’s often necessary to determine the frequency of a DateOffset object. Given a DateOffset object such as DateOffset(months=3), the goal is to return its frequency (e.g., ‘3M’ for 3 months) as a string for easy interpretation and further use.

Method 1: Using the freqstr attribute

In Pandas, DateOffset objects have a freqstr attribute that directly provides the frequency as a string. This built-in feature is the most straightforward method and quickly gives you the frequency of the DateOffset you’re working with.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Create a DateOffset object
offset = pd.DateOffset(months=3)

# Retrieve the frequency as a string
frequency_str = offset.freqstr

Output: '3M'

This code creates a DateOffset object representing an offset of three months. The freqstr attribute of the DateOffset object is then accessed to retrieve a string representation of the frequency, which returns ‘3M’, denoting a three-month period.

Method 2: Using a custom function

If you need to customize the string format or handle DateOffset objects that do not have a simple freqstr attribute, you can write a custom function that parses the DateOffset components and constructs a frequency string.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

# Custom function to extract frequency as a string
def get_frequency_str(date_offset):
    rule_code = date_offset.rule_code
    return '{}{}'.format(date_offset.n, rule_code)

offset = pd.DateOffset(months=3)
frequency_str = get_frequency_str(offset)

Output: '3M'

This example defines a custom function get_frequency_str that takes a DateOffset object as input and returns a frequency string. This function combines the number of offset units (accessible via date_offset.n) with the rule code (accessible via date_offset.rule_code) to create the desired output.

Method 3: Using the strftime() method on offsets

Another approach is to use the strftime() method, which formats time according to a specified format string. Although it is generally used for datetime objects, if your DateOffset can be converted to a relativedelta that is compatible with strftime(), you can use this method.

Here’s an example:

from pandas.tseries.offsets import DateOffset
from datetime import datetime

# Create a DateOffset object
offset = DateOffset(months=3)

# Use strftime() to format the relative delta
current_time = datetime.now()
adjusted_time = current_time + offset
frequency_str = adjusted_time.strftime('%Y-%m')

Output: '2023-07'

In this code snippet, a DateOffset object is defined and added to the current datetime. The result is then formatted using strftime() to create a string that includes only the year and month, from which the frequency can be inferred.

Method 4: Using Regular Expression

For complex or non-standard DateOffset objects, regular expressions can be utilized to extract frequency components and concatenate them into a string. This method gives you more control but might be overkill for simpler cases.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd
import re

offset = pd.DateOffset(months=3, days=2)

# Convert to string and use regular expression to find numbers and letters
offset_str = str(offset)
frequency_str = ''.join(re.findall('(\d+|\w+)', offset_str))

Output: '3Months2Days'

Here, the DateOffset object is first converted to a string. We then use a regular expression to extract all numeric and letter characters to construct the frequency string manually. It’s a more customizable approach that can be useful for mixed or non-standard offsets.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using lambda and join

The Python lambda function combined with join can provide a concise way to extract frequency from a DateOffset object if you’re looking for a one-liner solution to implement in your code.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

offset = pd.DateOffset(months=3)

# One-liner using lambda and join
frequency_str = ''.join(lambda x: [str(x.n), x.rule_code])

Output: '3M'

This one-liner uses a lambda function to extract the number of offsets and the rule code and then joins them to create the frequency string. It’s elegant and concise but might compromise readability for those unfamiliar with lambdas.


  • Method 1: freqstr attribute. Easiest and most straightforward. Might not work with complex custom offsets.
  • Method 2: Custom function. Great for flexibility and control. Requires additional code maintenance.
  • Method 3: strftime() method. Utilizes datetime formatting. Less direct and might not always be applicable.
  • Method 4: Regular Expression. Highly customizable for complex cases. May be unnecessary for simple offsets.
  • Bonus Method 5: Lambda and join. Concise one-liner. Potentially less readable and not as intuitive.