How to Convert Strings to Categorical Variables in Python?

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To convert strings to categorical variables in Python, you can use the Categorical data type provided by the pandas library. Categorical variables are useful when you have a limited number of unique values in a column, and you want to save memory and enable efficient analysis.

Here’s an example of how to convert strings to categorical variables in a pandas DataFrame:

import pandas as pd

# Create a DataFrame with a column containing strings
data = {'Category': ['A', 'B', 'A', 'C', 'B']}
df = pd.DataFrame(data)

# Convert the column to categorical variable
df['Category'] = pd.Categorical(df['Category'])

# Print the DataFrame

In this example, the Category column is converted to a categorical variable using the pd.Categorical function. The resulting categorical variable retains the original values and assigns a numerical code to each unique value behind the scenes.

You can access the categorical variable properties and use them for analysis or grouping operations. For example, you can get the unique categories using df['Category'].cat.categories or check the code for each value using df['Category']

Note that converting strings to categorical variables is beneficial when you have a relatively small number of unique values compared to the total number of values in the column. If the number of unique values is large or if the column contains mostly unique values, the memory usage may not be reduced significantly. In such cases, converting to categorical variables may not provide significant benefits.

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