Change dates in Pandas DataFrames to date data types

Use cases for code example

A common challenge when dealing with data is the treatement of date values.  We look at how to:

  • Get Pandas Dataframes to recognise loaded data values as dates
  • Change dates in Pandas DataFrames to date data types

Use case examples – Change dates in Pandas DataFrames to date time data type

We need Pandas Dataframes to recognise dates as a datetime data type so that we can:

  • filter records by date ranges
  • sort records by dates (for instance, in chronological order)
  • perform functions that allow us to group or summarise records by time periods (for example, year, quarter, month, week)

Sample Dataset for this example

For the examples, we use data from this link. Click to download.

Walkthrough and explanation of code

Walkthrough of code

In this set of code, we:

  • load the CSV dataset into a Pandas DataFrame into a dataframe called df_games_src
  • list column and data types information about the dataframe using the statements df_games_src.columns and df_games_src.dtypes
  • list first 5 rows in the dataframe with the head() statement
  • get Pandas dataframe to recognise the  date column field in the dataframe df_games_src as a date using 2 methods:
    • to_datetime method from the datetime library
    • astype statement

Example code

Example Code – Defining DataFrame column fields as date data types

Load the csv data into a data frame and get dataframe details

import pandas as pd 

#source files to read historical international games
df_games_src = pd.read_csv("results.csv")

print("df_games Column headings:")

print("df_games Data types:")


DataFrame information from read csv file

Get Pandas DataFrames to recognise loaded data values as dates

The information above shows that the date column of our loaded csv data is recognised as the object data type.

To conduct any date operations on this column, we need to change the Pandas DataFrame column data type to a datetime object.

#observe the date values of the dataframe


Values of date column in Pandas Dataframe

Looking at the date values of the date column, we see that they are in the format day / month / year.

There are 2 ways we can do it:

We can use the datetime Python library to convert the date column to a datetime data type.

import datetime

df_games_src['date'] = pd.to_datetime(df_games_src['date'], format='%d/%m/%Y')

We can also use the method .astype(‘datetime64[ns]’) to convert it to date.

df_games_src['date'] = df_games_src['date'].astype('datetime64[ns]')

Pandas Datetime Data types

Notice the change in the data type of the date column from object to datetime64[ns].

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