Get professional AI headshots with the best AI headshot generator. Save hundreds of dollars and hours of your time.

Introduction to qcut

Pandas is a popular Python library for data manipulation and analysis. It provides various functions for transforming and analyzing data, and one such function is qcut(). The qcut() function is used for quantile-based discretization of data, which means it helps you divide a continuous variable into discrete intervals or bins based on quantiles. This can be particularly useful when you want to convert continuous data into categorical data or when you want to evenly distribute data points into bins while considering their values. In this tutorial, we will explore the qcut() function in depth, understand its parameters, and see how it works with examples.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Quantiles
  2. The qcut() Function
  3. Parameters of qcut()
  4. Examples
  1. Conclusion

Understanding Quantiles

Before diving into the qcut() function, it’s important to have a clear understanding of quantiles. Quantiles are values that divide a dataset into equal parts or segments. The most common quantile is the median, which divides the data into two equal halves. Other quantiles, such as quartiles (dividing into four parts) and percentiles (dividing into hundred parts), provide valuable insights into the distribution of data.

For instance, the first quartile (25th percentile) represents the value below which 25% of the data falls, while the third quartile (75th percentile) represents the value below which 75% of the data falls.

The qcut() Function

The qcut() function in pandas allows us to bin data based on quantiles. This is particularly useful when you want to ensure that each bin contains roughly the same number of data points, making it a good choice for situations where you want to distribute data evenly across bins while maintaining an understanding of their values. It’s important to note that the bin widths in qcut() may vary, resulting in uneven bin sizes.

Let’s now explore the parameters of the qcut() function to understand how it works.

Parameters of qcut()

The qcut() function accepts several parameters that allow you to customize the behavior of the binning process. The main parameters are:

  • x: This is the input array or Series that you want to bin.
  • q: This parameter specifies the number of quantiles you want to use for binning. For example, if you set q to 4, the data will be divided into quartiles.
  • labels: This parameter allows you to provide labels for the resulting bins. If not provided, the bins will be labeled with integers.
  • retbins: If set to True, this parameter returns both the binned data and the bin edges.
  • precision: This parameter determines the number of decimal places to which the bin edges should be rounded.
  • duplicates: This parameter specifies how to handle duplicate bin edges, if they arise. Options include ‘raise’, ‘drop’, and ‘raise’.


In this section, we’ll go through two examples to demonstrate how the qcut() function works.

Example 1: Equal Frequency Binning

Let’s say we have a dataset of exam scores that range from 50 to 100. We want to divide the scores into five bins, with each bin containing approximately the same number of scores. We can achieve this using the qcut() function.

import pandas as pd

# Create a sample dataset of exam scores
scores = [58, 72, 65, 80, 92, 78, 85, 60, 88, 70, 95, 68, 75]

# Convert the scores to a pandas Series
scores_series = pd.Series(scores)

# Divide the scores into five bins with equal frequency
bins = pd.qcut(scores_series, q=5)



[(57.999, 65.6], (65.6, 72.0], (57.999, 65.6], (72.0, 80.0], (80.0, 95.0], (72.0, 80.0], (80.0, 95.0], (57.999, 65.6], (80.0, 95.0], (65.6, 72.0], (80.0, 95.0], (65.6, 72.0], (72.0, 80.0]]
Categories (5, interval[float64]): [(57.999, 65.6] < (65.6, 72.0] < (72.0, 80.0] < (80.0, 95.0] < (95.0, 95.0]]

In this example, the qcut() function has evenly distributed the exam scores into five bins with similar frequency. The output shows the range of scores included in each bin, and the categories represent the bin labels.

Example 2: Customizing Bin Labels

In this example, let’s consider a dataset of people’s ages. We want to divide the ages into three quantiles and provide custom labels to the resulting bins.

import pandas as pd

# Create a sample dataset of ages
ages = [25, 32, 45, 50, 60, 22, 18, 28, 35, 42, 58, 64, 70]

# Convert the ages to a pandas Series
ages_series = pd.Series(ages)

# Divide the ages into three bins and provide custom labels
bins, bin_labels = pd.qcut(ages_series, q=3, labels=["Young", "Middle-aged", "Senior"])



[(17.999, 35.0], (28.0, 42.0], (42.0, 64.0], (42.0, 64.0], (42.0, 64.0], (17.999, 35.0], (17.999, 35.0], (17.999, 35.0], (28.0, 42.0], (28.0, 42.0], (42.0, 64.0], (64.0, 70.0], (64.0, 70.0]]
Categories (3, interval[float64]): [(17.999, 35.0] < (28.0, 42.0] < (42.0, 64.0]]

['Young', 'Middle-aged', 'Middle-aged', 'Middle-aged', 'Middle-aged', 'Young', 'Young', 'Young', 'Middle-aged', 'Middle-aged', 'Middle-aged', 'Senior', 'Senior']

In this example, we’ve used the labels parameter to provide custom

labels for the resulting bins. This allows us to categorize the ages into “Young,” “Middle-aged,” and “Senior” groups based on their quantile distribution.


In this tutorial, we explored the qcut() function in pandas, which is useful for quantile-based discretization of data. We discussed the concept of quantiles and how the qcut() function allows us to evenly distribute data into bins based on quantiles. We looked at the parameters of the qcut() function, including x, q, labels, retbins, precision, and duplicates.

Two examples were provided to illustrate the usage of qcut(). In the first example, we divided exam scores into bins with equal frequency, and in the second example, we customized bin labels for age groups based on quantiles.

The qcut() function is a powerful tool for transforming continuous data into categorical data, allowing for better analysis and interpretation of the data’s distribution. As you continue to work with data using pandas, qcut() can become an essential component of your data preprocessing and analysis toolkit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *