Dataset for statmodels: design proposal

One of the thing numpy/scipy is missing now is a set of datasets, available for demo, courses, etc. For example, R has a set of dataset available at the core.

The expected usage of the datasets are the following:

  • examples, tutorials for model usage

  • testing of model usage vs. other statistical packages

That is, a dataset is not only data, but also some meta-data. The goal of this proposal is to propose common practices for organizing the data, in a way which is both straightforward, and does not prevent specific usage of the data.


This proposal was adapted from David Cournapeau’s original proposal for a datasets package for scipy and the learn scikit. It has been adapted for use in the statsmodels scikit. The structure of the datasets itself, while specific to statsmodels, should be general enough such that it might be used for other types of data (e.g., in the learn scikit or scipy itself).


Each dataset is a directory in the datasets directory and defines a python package (e.g. has the file). Each package is expected to define the function load, returning the corresponding data. For example, to access datasets data1, you should be able to do:

>>> from statsmodels.datasets.data1 import load
>>> d = load() # -> d is a Dataset object, see below

The load function is expected to return the Dataset object, which has certain common attributes that make it readily usable in tests and examples. Load can do whatever it wants: fetching data from a file (python script, csv file, etc…), generating random data, downloading from the Internet, etc. The load function will return the data as a pandas DataFrame.

It is strongly recommended that each dataset directory contain a csv file with the dataset and its variables in the same form as returned by load so that the dataset can easily be loaded into other statistical packages. In addition, an optional (though recommended) sub-directory src should contain the dataset in its original form if it was “cleaned” (ie., variable transformations) in order to put it into the format needed for statsmodels. Some special variables must be defined for each package, containing a Python string:

  • COPYRIGHT: copyright information

  • SOURCE: where the data are coming from

  • DESCHOSRT: short description

  • DESCLONG: long description

  • NOTE: some notes on the datasets.

See datasets/ for more information.

Format of the data

This is strongly suggested a practice for the Dataset object returned by the load function. Instead of using classes to provide meta-data, the Bunch pattern is used.

class Bunch(dict):
  def __init__(self,**kw):
      self.__dict__ = self

See this Reference

In practice, you can use

>>> from statsmodels.datasets import Dataset

as the default collector as in datasets/

The advantage of the Bunch pattern is that it preserves look-up by attribute. The key goals are:

  • For people who just want the data, there is no extra burden

  • For people who need more, they can easily extract what they need from the returned values. Higher level abstractions can be built easily from this model.

  • All possible datasets should fit into this model.

For the datasets to be useful in statsmodels the Dataset object returned by load has the following conventions and attributes:

  • Calling the object itself returns the plain ndarray of the full dataset.

  • data: A recarray containing the actual data. It is assumed that all of the data can safely be cast to a float at this point.

  • raw_data: This is the plain ndarray version of ‘data’.

  • names: this returns data.dtype.names so that name[i] is the i-th column in ‘raw_data’.

  • endog: this value is provided for convenience in tests and examples

  • exog: this value is provided for convenience in tests and examples

  • endog_name: the name of the endog attribute

  • exog_name: the names of the exog attribute

This contains enough information to get all useful information through introspection and simple functions. Further, attributes are easily added that may be useful for other packages.

Adding a dataset

See the notes on adding a dataset.

Example Usage

>>> from statsmodels import datasets
>>> data = datasets.longley.load(as_pandas=True)

Remaining problems:

  • If the dataset is big and cannot fit into memory, what kind of API do we want to avoid loading all the data in memory? Can we use memory mapped arrays ?

  • Missing data: I thought about subclassing both record arrays and masked arrays classes, but I don’t know if this is feasable, or even makes sense. I have the feeling that some Data mining software use Nan (for example, weka seems to use float internally), but this prevents them from representing integer data.

  • What to do with non-float data, i.e., strings or categorical variables?

Current implementation

An implementation following the above design is available in statsmodels.


Although the datasets package emerged from the learn package, we try to keep it independent from everything else, that is once we agree on the remaining problems and where the package should go, it can easily be put elsewhere without too much trouble. If there is interest in re-using the datasets package, please contact the developers on the mailing list.