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A Guide For Time Series Visualization With Python 3


Time-series analysis belongs to a subfigure of Statistics that involves the study of requested , often impermanent data. When relevantly enlisted , time-series analysis can show unexpected trends, extract useful statistics, and even forecast trends ahead into the time. For these reasons, it is enlisted across many environments including economics, weather forecasting, and capacity planning, to name a few.

In this tutorial, we will inform some communal methods used in time-series analysis and walk through the aspect stages demanded to manipulate, visualize time-series data.


This guide will cover how to do time-series analysis on either a local desktop or a far server. Working with enormous datasets can be memory intense, so in either case, the computer will need at least 2GB of memory to perform some of the calculations in this guide.

For this tutorial, well be using Jupyter Notebook to work with the data. If you do not have it already, you should follow our tutorial to install and set up Jupyter Notebook for Python 3.

Step 1 Installing Packages

We will leverage the pandas library, which offers a lot of trait when manipulating data, and the statsmodels library, which allows us to perform statistical reasoning in Python. Used together, these two libraries expand Python to offer large practicality and significantly increase our analytical toolkit.

Like with other Python packages, we can install pandas and statsmodels with pip. First, lets move into our local app environment or server-based app environment:

  • cd environments
  • . my_env/bin/activate

From here, lets create a new directory for our project. We will call it timeseries and then move into the directory. If you call the project a non-identical name, be convinced to equivalent your name for timeseries throughout the guide

  • mkdir timeseries
  • cd timeseries

We can now install pandas, statsmodels, and the data planning package matplotlib. Their states will also be installed:

  • pip install pandas statsmodels matplotlib

At this point, we're now set up to commence working with pandas and statsmodels.

Step 2 Loading Time-series Data

To commence working with our data, we will begin up Jupyter Notebook:

  • jupyter notebook

To create a new notebook register, appoint New > Python 3 from the top right pull-down menu:

Create a new Python 3 notebook

This will ajar a notebook which allows us to load the demanded libraries (notice the grade shorthands used to reference pandas, matplotlib and statsmodels). At the top of our notebook, we should write the following:

import pandas as pd
import statsmodels.api as sm
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

After each code block in this tutorial, you should symbol ALT + ENTER to run the code and move into a new code block within your notebook.

Conveniently, statsmodels comes with built-in datasets, so we can load a time-series dataset continuous into memory.

We'll be working with a dataset labelled "Atmospheric dioxide from Continuous Air Samples at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, U.S.A.," which accumulated dioxide samples from procession 1958 to December 2001. We can bring in this data as follows:

data = sm.datasets.co2.load_pandas()
co2 = data.data

Let's check what the first 5 lines of our time-series data look like:

co2 1958-03-29 316.1 1958-04-05 317.3 1958-04-12 317.6 1958-04-19 317.5 1958-04-26 316.4

With our packages imported and the dioxide dataset prepared to go, we can move on to listing our data.

Step 3 Indexing with Time-series Data

You may have noticed that the dates have been set as the index of our pandas DataFrame. When working with time-series data in Python we should ensure that dates are used as an index, so make convinced to always check for that, which we can do by running the following:

DatetimeIndex(['1958-03-29', '1958-04-05', '1958-04-12', '1958-04-19', '1958-04-26', '1958-05-03', '1958-05-10', '1958-05-17', '1958-05-24', '1958-05-31', ... '2001-10-27', '2001-11-03', '2001-11-10', '2001-11-17', '2001-11-24', '2001-12-01', '2001-12-08', '2001-12-15', '2001-12-22', '2001-12-29'], dtype='datetime64[ns]', length=2284, freq='W-SAT')

The dtype=datetime[ns] field confirms that our index is made of date symbol objects, while length=2284 and freq='W-SAT' tells us that we have 2,284 weekly date symbols beginning on Saturdays.

Weekly data can be untrustworthy to work with, so let's use the monthly statistics of our time-series instead. This can be obtained by using the handy resample function, which allows us to team the time-series into containerfuls (1 month), registerly a function on each team (convey), and combine the result (one row per team).

y = co2['co2'].resample('MS').mean()

Here, the statement MS means that we team the data in containerfuls by months and ensures that we are using the begin of each month as the timestamp:

1958-03-01 316.100 1958-04-01 317.200 1958-05-01 317.120 1958-06-01 315.800 1958-07-01 315.625 Freq: MS, Name: co2, dtype: float64

an intriguing feature of pandas is its ability to handle date symbol indices, which allow us to quickly slice our data. For instance, we can slice our dataset to only retrieve data points that come after the year 1990:

1990-01-01 353.650 1990-02-01 354.650 ... 2001-11-01 369.375 2001-12-01 371.020 Freq: MS, Name: co2, dtype: float64

Or, we can slice our dataset to only retrieve data points between October 1995 and October 1996:

1995-10-01 357.850 1995-11-01 359.475 1995-12-01 360.700 1996-01-01 362.025 1996-02-01 363.175 1996-03-01 364.060 1996-04-01 364.700 1996-05-01 365.325 1996-06-01 364.880 1996-07-01 363.475 1996-08-01 361.320 1996-09-01 359.400 1996-10-01 359.625 Freq: MS, Name: co2, dtype: float64

With our data properly listed for working with impermanent data, we can move onto handling values that may be missing.

Step 4 Handling Missing Values in Time-series Data

actual experience data tends be untidy. As we can see from the story, it is not especial for time-series data to include missing values. The uncomplicated route to check for those is either by directly planning the data or by using the control below that will show missing data in ouput:


This production tells us that there are 5 months with missing values in our time series.

Generally, we should "fill in" missing values if they are not too many so that we dont have gaps in the data. We can do this in pandas using the fillna() control. For quality, we can fill in missing values with the closest non-null ideal in our time series, although it is all-important to note that a rotating convey would sometimes be desirable.

y = y.fillna(y.bfill())

With missing values filled in, we can once again check to see whether any invalid values exist to make convinced that our operation worked:


After performing these operations, we see that we have successfully filled in all missing values in our time series.

Step 5 Visualizing Time-series Data

When working with time-series data, a lot can be showed through visualizing it. a few things to look out for are:

  • seasonality: does the data display a clear cyclic pattern?
  • trend: does the data follow a consistent upwards or descending slope?
  • sound: are there any deviation points or missing values that are not consistent with the rest of the data?

We can use the pandas covering around the matplotlib API to display a story of our dataset:

y.plot(figsize=(15, 6))

Timeseries Visualization Figure 1

Some distinguishable patterns appear when we plot the data. The time-series has an obvious seasonality pattern, as well as an overall increasing trend. We can also visualize our data using a method called time-series decomposition. As its name suggests, time series decomposition allows us to decompose our time series into three distinct components: trend, seasonality, and sound.

Fortunately, statsmodels provides the handy seasonal_decompose function to perform seasonal decomposition out of the blow. If you are curious in learning more, the reference for its genuine implementation can be found in the following essay, "STL: a seasonal-Trend Decomposition method Based on Loess."

The script below shows how to perform time-series seasonal decomposition in Python. By failure, seasonal_decompose returns a figure of relatively little size, so the first two lines of this code agglomeration ensure that the production figure is enormous enough for us to visualize.

from pylab import rcParams
rcParams['figure.figsize'] = 11, 9

decomposition = sm.tsa.seasonal_decompose(y, model='additive')
fig = decomposition.plot()

Timeseries Seasonal-Trend Decomposition Visualization Figure 2

Using time-series decomposition makes it simple to quickly identify a changing convey or variation in the data. The story above clearly shows the upwards trend of our data, along with its yearly seasonality. These can be used to understand the structure of our time-series. The intuition behind time-series decomposition is all-important, as many forecasting modes build upon this idea of structured decomposition to produce forecasts.


If you've followed along with this guide, you now have experience visualizing and manipulating time-series data in Python.

To further enhance your skill set, you can load in another dataset and tell all the stages in this tutorial. For instance, you may wish to read a csv register using the pandas library or use the sunspots dataset that comes pre-loaded with the statsmodels library: data = sm.datasets.sunspots.load_pandas().data.

Reference: digitalocean