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Data manipulation is a fundamental aspect of data analysis and preprocessing. In the realm of Python, the Pandas library stands as one of the most powerful tools for handling and analyzing tabular data. One of the lesser-known but incredibly useful functions within Pandas is interval_range. This function allows you to generate intervals (ranges) of values, which can be particularly handy when dealing with datasets that involve time periods, numerical bins, or any other situation requiring the division of a continuous range into discrete intervals.

In this tutorial, we will dive deep into the Pandas interval_range function. We’ll cover its syntax, parameters, and provide you with several real-world examples to demonstrate its versatility and usefulness. By the end of this tutorial, you should be confident in using interval_range to create custom intervals for your data.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to interval_range
  • Syntax of interval_range
  • Parameters of interval_range
  • Examples
  • Example 1: Time Periods
  • Example 2: Numerical Binning
  • Conclusion

Introduction to interval_range

Pandas provides a variety of tools to manipulate and reshape data. interval_range is a lesser-known but highly valuable function that can assist in scenarios where data needs to be divided into intervals or bins. This is particularly useful when dealing with datasets that require time period division, numerical binning, or any other scenario where continuous ranges need to be discretized.

Imagine a dataset that includes timestamps and you want to group these timestamps into specific time intervals, or you have a range of numerical values and you want to create bins for these values. This is where interval_range comes into play.

Syntax of interval_range

The basic syntax of the interval_range function is as follows:

pandas.interval_range(start, end=None, periods=None, freq=None, name=None, closed='right')

Let’s break down the parameters of this function:

  • start: The starting value of the interval range.
  • end: The ending value of the interval range.
  • periods: The number of periods (intervals) to generate.
  • freq: The frequency of intervals. This can be a string representation like ‘D’ for days, ‘H’ for hours, etc.
  • name: An optional name for the interval index.
  • closed: The side of the intervals that is closed. It can take values ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘both’, or ‘neither’.

Parameters of interval_range

Let’s take a closer look at the parameters of the interval_range function:

  • start: This is the starting value of the interval range. It defines the first value of the first interval.
  • end: This is the ending value of the interval range. It defines the last value of the last interval. If not provided, it is inferred from the periods parameter.
  • periods: This parameter specifies the number of intervals to generate. If both end and periods are provided, the end value is ignored in favor of generating intervals with the specified number of periods.
  • freq: The frequency of intervals. This parameter allows you to specify the frequency at which intervals are generated. This is useful when you want intervals that are not of equal size. It accepts frequency strings like ‘D’ for days, ‘H’ for hours, etc.
  • name: This parameter allows you to provide a name for the interval index. It can be useful for labeling and referencing purposes.
  • closed: This parameter determines which side of the intervals is closed. The options are ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘both’, or ‘neither’. The default value is ‘right’, which means the right side of the interval is closed (inclusive), while the left side is open (exclusive).

Now that we have a solid understanding of the syntax and parameters of the interval_range function, let’s move on to some examples that demonstrate its functionality.


Example 1: Time Periods

Let’s start with an example involving time periods. Suppose you have a dataset containing timestamps, and you want to categorize these timestamps into specific time intervals. This can be useful for aggregating data based on these intervals or for plotting time-related trends.

import pandas as pd

# Create a range of timestamps
start_timestamp = pd.Timestamp('2023-01-01')
end_timestamp = pd.Timestamp('2023-01-10')
num_intervals = 5

# Generate time intervals
time_intervals = pd.interval_range(start=start_timestamp, end=end_timestamp, periods=num_intervals)

# Display the generated time intervals
print("Generated Time Intervals:")
for interval in time_intervals:

In this example, we first imported the Pandas library. We then defined a start timestamp, an end timestamp, and the number of intervals we want to generate. Using the interval_range function, we created time intervals between the start and end timestamps. The output of the above code would look something like this:

Generated Time Intervals:
(2023-01-01, 2023-01-03]
(2023-01-03, 2023-01-05]
(2023-01-05, 2023-01-07]
(2023-01-07, 2023-01-09]
(2023-01-09, 2023-01-10]

As you can see, the timestamps have been divided into five intervals of approximately equal duration. The intervals are closed on the right side, meaning the end timestamp is included in each interval.

Example 2: Numerical Binning

Another common use case for interval_range is numerical binning. Suppose you have a dataset of numerical values, and you want to group these values into specific ranges (bins). This can be useful for creating histograms or performing analyses based on these bins.

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Create an array of numerical values
data = np.random.randint(0, 100, size=20)

# Define bin edges
bin_edges = [0, 25, 50, 75, 100]

# Generate numerical bins
num_bins = pd.interval_range(start=min(bin_edges), end=max(bin_edges), bins=bin_edges, closed='right')

# Categorize data into bins
bin_labels = [f"Bin {i+1}" for i in range(len(num_bins))]
data_bins = pd.cut(data, bins=num_bins, labels=bin_labels, include_lowest=True)

# Create a DataFrame to display the data and bins
df = pd.DataFrame({'Value': data, 'Bin': data_bins})

# Display the DataFrame

In this example, we generated an array of random numerical values using NumPy’s randint function. We then defined bin edges to create specific ranges for binning. Using the interval_range function with the bins parameter, we generated numerical bins based on the specified bin edges. We also specified that the bins should be closed on the right side.

Next, we used the cut function to categorize the data into these bins, and we created a DataFrame to display the data along with their corresponding bins. The output might look something like this


    Value     Bin
0      24  Bin 1
1      61  Bin 3
2      16  Bin 1
3      35  Bin 2
4      36  Bin 2
5      23  Bin 1
6      32  Bin 2
7      19  Bin 1
8      76  Bin 4
9      91  Bin 4
10     30  Bin 2
11     84  Bin 4
12     76  Bin 4
13     52  Bin 3
14     12  Bin 1
15     32  Bin 2
16     54  Bin 3
17     62  Bin 3
18     70  Bin 4
19     64  Bin 3

As demonstrated in this example, the numerical values have been grouped into bins based on the defined bin edges. Each value is associated with a specific bin label.


In this tutorial, we explored the Pandas interval_range function, which provides a powerful tool for generating intervals or bins for various types of data. We covered its syntax, parameters, and provided two real-world examples to illustrate its functionality. The first example demonstrated how to create time intervals for timestamp data, while the second example showcased how to perform numerical binning on a dataset of numerical values.

By mastering the interval_range function, you can efficiently handle scenarios that involve time-based categorization or numerical binning. This tool can enhance your data analysis capabilities and provide you with insights that might otherwise be challenging to obtain. Whether you’re working with time series data, histograms, or any other scenario requiring interval generation, Pandas’ interval_range function is a valuable addition to your data manipulation toolkit.

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