Open Source Panda Simplifies Data Analysis

March 20, 2018

An article at Quartz draws our attention to a potential alternative to Excel—the open source Pandas—in, “Meet the Man Behind the Most Important Tool in Data Science.” Writer Dan Kopf profiles Panda’s developer, Wes McKinny, who launched the Python tool in 2009. In 2012, Pandas’ popularity took off. Now, Kopf tells us:

Millions of people around the world use Pandas. In October 2017 alone, Stack Overflow, a website for programmers, recorded 5 million visits to questions about Pandas from more than 1 million unique visitors. Data scientists at Google, Facebook, JP Morgan, and virtually other major company that analyze data uses Pandas. Most people haven’t heard of it, but for many people who do heavy data analysis—a rapidly growing group these days—life wouldn’t be the same without it. (Pandas is open source, so it’s free to use.) So what does Pandas do that is so valuable? I asked McKinney how he explains it to non-programmer friends. ‘I tell them that it enables people to analyze and work with data who are not expert computer scientists,’ he says. ‘You still have to write code, but it’s making the code intuitive and accessible. It helps people move beyond just using Excel for data analysis.’

McKinney is inspired to improve data science tools because he likes to “empower people to solve problems.” In fact, Pandas sprung from his frustration at the limitations of available tools when he first came to embrace Python. See the article to follow the developer from his time as a high school athlete to his current, full-time work on Pandas and other open source projects, as well as more on Pandas itself.

Cynthia Murrell, March 20, 2018


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