( 0 – 0 ) / 0 != 0

Arrrgghh – I just wasted the best part of an afternoon chasing this one down. If i can knock out a quick post on it then at least i’ll feel i’ve gotten something out of it.

Here’s the story – somewhere in an admittedly crazy ETL type pipeline i was using pandas pct_change() as a data transformation prior to some downstream modelling. Problem was i was also using dropna() later to ensure only valid data going into the model. I noticed a lot of rows falling out of the data pipeline (print(df.shape) is your friend!).

After a lot of debugging, chasing this dead end down a rabbit hole, cleaning and updating my conda environment (and then dealing with the tornado issues that always seems to cause) i realized the answer was staring me in the face the whole time.

Its the 0’s!

Turns out my data has lots of zero’s and i’m an idiot who assumed (0-0) / 0 = 0 and so the NaN’s above should be 0.

But am i really an idiot? I checked…

I guess so.

So let that be a lesson – watch out for 0’s when using pct_change() – don’t be like andrewm4894.

p.s. I could not just fillna() them as i had valid NaN’s at the top of my dataframe from the lagged values. So i ended up in a state where some NaN’s were valid and some i wanted to be 0 instead. Am guessing i’ll have to write a custom pct_change() type function (which seems a bit crazy). Would be great if was a way to tell pandas pct_change() i want (0-0)/0=0. Maybe if i get brave enough i’ll make a pull request 🙂

p.p.s. Seems like i’m not the only one: https://brilliant.org/wiki/what-is-0-0/ (though still wrong)

hmmm – maybe i’ve just wasted more time on this post. Think i need to pack it in for today.


Everything is always clearer in the morning, here is a one liner that pretty much behaves as i wanted. I can get back to my life now.

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