**NumPy** and **pandas** are very comprehensive, efficient, and flexible Python tools for data manipulation. An important concept for proficient users of these two libraries to understand is how data are referenced as **shallow copies** (**views**) and **deep copies** (or just **copies**). pandas sometimes issues a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

to warn the user of a potentially inappropriate use of views and copies.

**In this article, you’ll learn:**

- What
**views**and**copies**are in NumPy and pandas - How to properly work with views and copies in NumPy and pandas
- Why the
`SettingWithCopyWarning`

happens in pandas - How to avoid getting a
`SettingWithCopyWarning`

in pandas

You’ll first see a short explanation of what the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

is and how to avoid it. You might find this enough for your needs, but you can also dig a bit deeper into the details of NumPy and pandas to learn more about copies and views.

**Free Bonus:** Click here to get access to a free NumPy Resources Guide that points you to the best tutorials, videos, and books for improving your NumPy skills.

## Prerequisites

To follow the examples in this article, you’ll need Python 3.7 or 3.8, as well as the libraries NumPy and pandas. This article is written for NumPy version 1.18.1 and pandas version 1.0.3. You can install them with `pip`

:

```
$ python -m pip install -U "numpy==1.18.*" "pandas==1.0.*"
```

If you prefer Anaconda or Miniconda distributions, you can use the conda package management system. To learn more about this approach, check out Setting Up Python for Machine Learning on Windows. For now, it’ll be enough to install NumPy and pandas in your environment:

```
$ conda install numpy=1.18.* pandas=1.0.*
```

Now that you have NumPy and pandas installed, you can import them and check their versions:

```
>>> import numpy as np
>>> import pandas as pd
>>> np.__version__
'1.18.1'
>>> pd.__version__
'1.0.3'
```

That’s it. You have all the prerequisites for this article. Your versions might vary slightly, but the information below will still apply.

**Note:** This article requires you to have some prior pandas knowledge. You’ll also need some knowledge of NumPy for the later sections.

To refresh your NumPy skills, you can check out the following resources:

- NumPy Quickstart Tutorial
- Look Ma, No For-Loops: Array Programming With NumPy
- Python Plotting With Matplotlib

To remind yourself about pandas, you can read the following:

Now you’re ready to start learning about views, copies, and the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

!

## Example of a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

If you work with pandas, chances are that you’ve already seen a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

in action. It can be annoying and sometimes hard to understand. However, it’s issued for a reason.

The first thing you should know about the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

is that it’s *not* an error. It’s a warning. It warns you that you’ve probably done something that’s going to result in unwanted behavior in your code.

Let’s see an example. You’ll start by creating a pandas DataFrame:

```
>>> data = {"x": 2**np.arange(5),
... "y": 3**np.arange(5),
... "z": np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64])}
>>> index = ["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

This example creates a dictionary referenced by the variable `data`

that contains:

- The keys
`"x"`

,`"y"`

, and`"z"`

, which will be the column labels of the DataFrame - Three NumPy arrays that hold the data of the DataFrame

You create the first two arrays with the routine `numpy.arange()`

and the last one with `numpy.array()`

. To learn more about `arange()`

, check out NumPy arange(): How to Use np.arange().

The list attached to the variable `index`

contains the strings `"a"`

, `"b"`

, `"c"`

, `"d"`

, and `"e"`

, which will be the row labels for the DataFrame.

Finally, you initialize the DataFrame `df`

that contains the information from `data`

and `index`

. You can visualize it like this:

Here’s a breakdown of the main information contained in the DataFrame:

**Purple box:**Data**Blue box:**Column labels**Red box:**Row labels

The DataFrame stores additional information, or metadata, including its shape, data types, and so on.

Now that you have a DataFrame to work with, let’s try to get a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

. You’ll take all values from column `z`

that are less than fifty and replace them with zeros. You can start by creating a mask, or a filter with pandas Boolean operators:

```
>>> mask = df["z"] < 50
>>> mask
a True
b False
c True
d True
e False
Name: z, dtype: bool
>>> df[mask]
x y z
a 1 1 45
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
```

`mask`

is an instance of a pandas Series with Boolean data and the indices from `df`

:

indicates the rows in`True`

`df`

in which the value of`z`

is less than`50`

.indicates the rows in`False`

`df`

in which the value of`z`

is*not*less than`50`

.

`df[mask]`

returns a DataFrame with the rows from `df`

for which `mask`

is `True`

. In this case, you get rows `a`

, `c`

, and `d`

.

If you try to change `df`

by extracting rows `a`

, `c`

, and `d`

using `mask`

, you’ll get a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

, and `df`

will remain the same:

```
>>> df[mask]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

As you can see, the assignment of zeros to the column `z`

fails. This image illustrates the entire process:

Here’s what happens in the code sample above:

returns a completely new DataFrame (outlined in purple). This DataFrame holds a copy of the data from`df[mask]`

`df`

that correspond to`True`

values from`mask`

(highlighted in green).modifies the column`df[mask]["z"] = 0`

`z`

of the new DataFrame to zeros, leaving`df`

untouched.

Usually, you don’t want this! You want to modify `df`

and not some intermediate data structure that isn’t referenced by any variable. That’s why pandas issues a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

and warns you about this possible mistake.

In this case, the proper way to modify `df`

is to apply one of the accessors `.loc[]`

, `.iloc[]`

, `.at[]`

, or `.iat[]`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc[mask, "z"] = 0
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 64
```

This approach enables you to provide two arguments, `mask`

and `"z"`

, to the single method that assigns the values to the DataFrame.

An alternative way to fix this issue is to change the evaluation order:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df["z"]
a 45
b 98
c 24
d 11
e 64
Name: z, dtype: int64
>>> df["z"][mask] = 0
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 64
```

This works! You’ve modified `df`

. Here’s what this process looks like:

Here’s a breakdown of the image::

returns a`df["z"]`

`Series`

object (outlined in purple) that points to the*same data*as the column`z`

in`df`

, not its copy.modifies this`df["z"][mask] = 0`

`Series`

object by using**chained assignment**to set the masked values (highlighted in green) to zero.is modified as well since the`df`

`Series`

object`df["z"]`

holds the same data as`df`

.

You’ve seen that `df[mask]`

contains a copy of the data, whereas `df["z"]`

points to the same data as `df`

. The rules used by pandas to determine whether or not you make a copy are very complex. Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to assign values to DataFrames and avoid a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

Invoking accessors is usually considered better practice than chained assignment for these reasons:

- The intention to modify
`df`

is clearer to pandas when you use a single method. - The code is cleaner for readers.
- The accessors tend to have better performance, even though you won’t notice this in most cases.

However, using accessors sometimes isn’t enough. They might also return copies, in which case you can get a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc[mask]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

In this example, as in the previous one, you use the accessor `.loc[]`

. The assignment fails because `df.loc[mask]`

returns a new DataFrame with a copy of the data from `df`

. Then `df.loc[mask]["z"] = 0`

modifies the new DataFrame, not `df`

.

Generally, to avoid a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

in pandas, you should do the following:

**Avoid chained assignments**that combine two or more indexing operations like`df["z"][mask] = 0`

and`df.loc[mask]["z"] = 0`

.**Apply single assignments**with just one indexing operation like`df.loc[mask, "z"] = 0`

. This might (or might not) involve the use of accessors, but they are certainly very useful and are often preferable.

With this knowledge, you can successfully avoid the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

and any unwanted behavior in most cases. However, if you want to dive deeper into NumPy, pandas, views, copies, and the issues related to the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

, then continue on with the rest of the article.

## Views and Copies in NumPy and pandas

Understanding views and copies is an important part of getting to know how NumPy and pandas manipulate data. It can also help you avoid errors and performance bottlenecks. Sometimes data is copied from one part of memory to another, but in other cases two or more objects can share the same data, saving both time and memory.

### Understanding Views and Copies in NumPy

Let’s start by creating a NumPy array:

```
>>> arr = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> arr
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
```

Now that you have `arr`

, you can use it to create other arrays. Let’s first extract the second and fourth elements of `arr`

(`2`

and `8`

) as a new array. There are several ways to do this:

```
>>> arr[1:4:2]
array([2, 8])
>>> arr[[1, 3]]
array([2, 8]))
```

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with array indexing. You’ll learn more about these and other statements later. For now, it’s important to notice that both statements return `array([2, 8])`

. However, they have different behavior under the surface:

```
>>> arr[1:4:2].base
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> arr[1:4:2].flags.owndata
False
>>> arr[[1, 3]].base
>>> arr[[1, 3]].flags.owndata
True
```

This might seem odd at the first sight. The difference is in the fact that `arr[1:4:2]`

returns a **shallow copy**, while `arr[[1, 3]]`

returns a **deep copy**. Understanding this difference is essential not only for dealing with the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

but also for manipulating big data with NumPy and pandas.

In the sections below, you’ll learn more about shallow and deep copies in NumPy and pandas.

#### Views in NumPy

A **shallow copy** or **view** is a NumPy array that doesn’t have its own data. It looks at, or “views,” the data contained in the original array. You can create a view of an array with `.view()`

:

```
>>> view_of_arr = arr.view()
>>> view_of_arr
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> view_of_arr.base
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> view_of_arr.base is arr
True
```

You’ve obtained the array `view_of_arr`

, which is a view, or shallow copy, of the original array `arr`

. The attribute `.base`

of `view_of_arr`

is `arr`

itself. In other words, `view_of_arr`

doesn’t own any data—it uses the data that belongs to `arr`

. You can also verify this with the attribute `.flags`

:

```
>>> view_of_arr.flags.owndata
False
```

As you can see, `view_of_arr.flags.owndata`

is `False`

. This means that `view_of_arr`

doesn’t own data and uses its `.base`

to get the data:

The image above shows that `arr`

and `view_of_arr`

point to the same data values.

#### Copies in NumPy

A **deep copy** of a NumPy array, sometimes called just a **copy**, is a separate NumPy array that has its own data. The data of a deep copy is obtained by copying the elements of the original array into the new array. The original and the copy are two separate instances. You can create a copy of an array with `.copy()`

:

```
>>> copy_of_arr = arr.copy()
>>> copy_of_arr
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> copy_of_arr.base is None
True
>>> copy_of_arr.flags.owndata
True
```

As you can see, `copy_of_arr`

doesn’t have `.base`

. To be more precise, the value of `copy_of_arr.base`

is `None`

. The attribute `.flags.owndata`

is `True`

. This means that `copy_of_arr`

owns data:

The image above shows that `arr`

and `copy_of_arr`

contain different instances of data values.

#### Differences Between Views and Copies

There are two very important differences between views and copies:

- Views don’t need additional storage for data, but copies do.
- Modifying the original array affects its views, and vice versa. However, modifying the original array will
*not*affect its copy.

To illustrate the first difference between views and copies, let’s compare the sizes of `arr`

, `view_of_arr`

, and `copy_of_arr`

. The attribute `.nbytes`

returns the memory consumed by the elements of the array:

```
>>> arr.nbytes
48
>>> view_of_arr.nbytes
48
>>> copy_of_arr.nbytes
48
```

The amount of memory is the same for all arrays: 48 bytes. Each array looks at six integer elements of 8 bytes (64 bits) each. That’s 48 bytes in total.

However, if you use `sys.getsizeof()`

to get the memory amount directly attributed to each array, then you’ll see the difference:

```
>>> from sys import getsizeof
>>> getsizeof(arr)
144
>>> getsizeof(view_of_arr)
96
>>> getsizeof(copy_of_arr)
144
```

`arr`

and `copy_of_arr`

hold 144 bytes each. As you’ve seen previously, 48 bytes out of the 144 total are for the data elements. The remaining 96 bytes are for other attributes. `view_of_arr`

holds only those 96 bytes because it doesn’t have its own data elements.

To illustrate the second difference between views and copies, you can modify any element of the original array:

```
>>> arr[1] = 64
>>> arr
array([ 1, 64, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> view_of_arr
array([ 1, 64, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> copy_of_arr
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
```

As you can see, the view is also changed, but the copy stays the same. The code is illustrated in the image below:

The view is modified because it looks at the elements of `arr`

, and its `.base`

is the original array. The copy is unchanged because it doesn’t share data with the original, so a change to the original doesn’t affect it at all.

### Understanding Views and Copies in pandas

pandas also makes a distinction between views and copies. You can create a view or copy of a DataFrame with `.copy()`

. The parameter `deep`

determines if you want a view (`deep=False`

) or copy (`deep=True`

). `deep`

is `True`

by default, so you can omit it to get a copy:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> view_of_df = df.copy(deep=False)
>>> view_of_df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> copy_of_df = df.copy()
>>> copy_of_df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

At first, the view and copy of `df`

look the same. If you compare their NumPy representations, though, then you may notice this subtle difference:

```
>>> view_of_df.to_numpy().base is df.to_numpy().base
True
>>> copy_of_df.to_numpy().base is df.to_numpy().base
False
```

Here, `.to_numpy()`

returns the NumPy array that holds the data of the DataFrames. You can see that `df`

and `view_of_df`

have the same `.base`

and share the same data. On the other hand, `copy_of_df`

contains different data.

You can verify this by modifying `df`

:

```
>>> df["z"] = 0
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 0
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 0
>>> view_of_df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 0
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 0
>>> copy_of_df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

You’ve assigned zeros to all elements of the column `z`

in `df`

. That causes a change in `view_of_df`

, but `copy_of_df`

remains unmodified.

Rows and column labels also exhibit the same behavior:

```
>>> view_of_df.index is df.index
True
>>> view_of_df.columns is df.columns
True
>>> copy_of_df.index is df.index
False
>>> copy_of_df.columns is df.columns
False
```

`df`

and `view_of_df`

share the same row and column labels, while `copy_of_df`

has separate index instances. Keep in mind that you can’t modify particular elements of `.index`

and `.columns`

. They are **immutable** objects.

## Indices and Slices in NumPy and pandas

Basic indexing and slicing in NumPy is similar to the indexing and slicing of lists and tuples. However, both NumPy and pandas provide additional options to reference and assign values to the objects and their parts.

NumPy arrays and pandas objects (`DataFrame`

and `Series`

) implement special methods that enable referencing, assigning, and deleting values in a style similar to that of containers:

`.__getitem__()`

references values.`.__setitem__()`

assigns values.`.__delitem__()`

deletes values.

When you’re referencing, assigning, or deleting data in Python container-like objects, you often call these methods:

is equivalent to`var = obj[key]`

`var = obj.__getitem__(key)`

.is equivalent to`obj[key] = value`

`obj.__setitem__(key, value)`

.is equivalent to`del obj[key]`

`obj.__delitem__(key)`

.

The argument `key`

represents the index, which can be an integer, slice, tuple, list, NumPy array, and so on.

### Indexing in NumPy: Copies and Views

NumPy has a strict set of rules related to copies and views when indexing arrays. Whether you get views or copies of the original data depends on the approach you use to index your arrays: slicing, integer indexing, or Boolean indexing.

#### One-Dimensional Arrays

Slicing is a well-known operation in Python for getting particular data from arrays, lists, or tuples. When you slice a NumPy array, you get a view of the array:

```
>>> arr = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> a = arr[1:3]
>>> a
array([2, 4])
>>> a.base
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> a.base is arr
True
>>> a.flags.owndata
False
>>> b = arr[1:4:2]
>>> b
array([2, 8])
>>> b.base
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> b.base is arr
True
>>> b.flags.owndata
False
```

You’ve created the original array `arr`

and sliced it to get two smaller arrays, `a`

and `b`

. Both `a`

and `b`

use `arr`

as their bases and neither has its own data. Instead, they look at the data of `arr`

:

The green indices in the image above are taken by slicing. Both `a`

and `b`

look at the corresponding elements of `arr`

in the green rectangles.

**Note:** When you have a large original array and need only a small part of it, you can call `.copy()`

after slicing and delete the variable that points to the original with a `del`

statement. This way, you keep the copy and remove the original array from memory.

Though slicing returns a view, there are other cases where creating one array from another actually makes a copy.

Indexing an array with a list of integers returns a copy of the original array. The copy contains the elements from the original array whose indices are present in the list:

```
>>> c = arr[[1, 3]]
>>> c
array([2, 8])
>>> c.base is None
True
>>> c.flags.owndata
True
```

The resulting array `c`

contains the elements from `arr`

with the indices `1`

and `3`

. These elements have the values `2`

and `8`

. In this case, `c`

is a copy of `arr`

, its `.base`

is `None`

, and it has its own data:

The elements of `arr`

with the chosen indices `1`

and `3`

are copied into the new array `c`

. After the copying is done, `arr`

and `c`

are independent.

You can also index NumPy arrays with mask arrays or lists. Masks are Boolean arrays or lists of the same shape as the original. You’ll get a copy of the original array that contains only the elements that correspond to the `True`

values of the mask:

```
>>> mask = [False, True, False, True, False, False]
>>> d = arr[mask]
>>> d
array([2, 8])
>>> d.base is None
True
>>> d.flags.owndata
True
```

The list `mask`

has `True`

values at the second and fourth positions. This is why the array `d`

contains only the elements from the second and fourth positions of `arr`

. As in the case of `c`

, `d`

is a copy, its `.base`

is `None`

, and it has its own data:

The elements of `arr`

in the green rectangles correspond to `True`

values from `mask`

. These elements are copied into the new array `d`

. After copying, `arr`

and `d`

are independent.

**Note:** Instead of a list, you can use another NumPy array of integers, but *not* a tuple.

To recap, here are the variables you’ve created so far that reference `arr`

:

```
# `arr` is the original array:
arr = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
# `a` and `b` are views created through slicing:
a = arr[1:3]
b = arr[1:4:2]
# `c` and `d` are copies created through integer and Boolean indexing:
c = arr[[1, 3]]
d = arr[[False, True, False, True, False, False]]
```

Keep in mind that these examples show how you can *reference* data in an array. Referencing data returns views when slicing arrays and copies when using index and mask arrays. *Assignments*, on the other hand, always modify the original data of the array.

Now that you have all these arrays, let’s see what happens when you alter the original:

```
>>> arr[1] = 64
>>> arr
array([ 1, 64, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> a
array([64, 4])
>>> b
array([64, 8])
>>> c
array([2, 8])
>>> d
array([2, 8])
```

You’ve changed the second value of `arr`

from `2`

to `64`

. The value `2`

was also present in the derived arrays `a`

, `b`

, `c`

, and `d`

. However, only the views `a`

and `b`

are modified:

The views `a`

and `b`

look at the data of `arr`

, including its second element. That’s why you see the change. The copies `c`

and `d`

remain unchanged because they don’t have common data with `arr`

. They are independent of `arr`

.

#### Chained Indexing in NumPy

Does this behavior with `a`

and `b`

look at all similar to the earlier pandas examples? It might, because the concept of **chained indexing** applies in NumPy, too:

```
>>> arr = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> arr[1:4:2][0] = 64
>>> arr
array([ 1, 64, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> arr = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
>>> arr[[1, 3]][0] = 64
>>> arr
array([ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32])
```

This example illustrates the difference between copies and views when using chained indexing in NumPy.

In the first case, `arr[1:4:2]`

returns a view that references the data of `arr`

and contains the elements `2`

and `8`

. The statement `arr[1:4:2][0] = 64`

modifies the first of these elements to `64`

. The change is visible in both `arr`

and the view returned by `arr[1:4:2]`

.

In the second case, `arr[[1, 3]]`

returns a copy that also contains the elements `2`

and `8`

. But these aren’t the same elements as in `arr`

. They’re new ones. `arr[[1, 3]][0] = 64`

modifies the copy returned by `arr[[1, 3]]`

and leaves `arr`

unchanged.

This is essentially the same behavior that produces a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

in pandas, but that warning doesn’t exist in NumPy.

#### Multidimensional Arrays

Referencing multidimensional arrays follows the same principles:

- Slicing arrays returns views.
- Using index and mask arrays returns copies.

Combining index and mask arrays with slicing is also possible. In such cases, you get copies.

Here are a few examples:

```
>>> arr = np.array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8],
... [ 16, 32, 64, 128],
... [256, 512, 1024, 2048]])
>>> arr
array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8],
[ 16, 32, 64, 128],
[ 256, 512, 1024, 2048]])
>>> a = arr[:, 1:3] # Take columns 1 and 2
>>> a
array([[ 2, 4],
[ 32, 64],
[ 512, 1024]])
>>> a.base
array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8],
[ 16, 32, 64, 128],
[ 256, 512, 1024, 2048]])
>>> a.base is arr
True
>>> b = arr[:, 1:4:2] # Take columns 1 and 3
>>> b
array([[ 2, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
>>> b.base
array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8],
[ 16, 32, 64, 128],
[ 256, 512, 1024, 2048]])
>>> b.base is arr
True
>>> c = arr[:, [1, 3]] # Take columns 1 and 3
>>> c
array([[ 2, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
>>> c.base
array([[ 2, 32, 512],
[ 8, 128, 2048]])
>>> c.base is arr
False
>>> d = arr[:, [False, True, False, True]] # Take columns 1 and 3
>>> d
array([[ 2, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
>>> d.base
array([[ 2, 32, 512],
[ 8, 128, 2048]])
>>> d.base is arr
False
```

In this example, you start from the two-dimensional array `arr`

. You apply slices for rows. Using the colon syntax (`:`

), which is equivalent to `slice(None)`

, means that you want to take all rows.

When you work with the slices `1:3`

and `1:4:2`

for columns, the views `a`

and `b`

are returned. However, when you apply the list `[1, 3]`

and mask `[False, True, False, True]`

, you get the copies `c`

and `d`

.

The `.base`

of both `a`

and `b`

is `arr`

itself. Both `c`

and `d`

have their own bases unrelated to `arr`

.

As with one-dimensional arrays, when you modify the original, the views change because they see the same data, but the copies remain the same:

```
>>> arr[0, 1] = 100
>>> arr
array([[ 1, 100, 4, 8],
[ 16, 32, 64, 128],
[ 256, 512, 1024, 2048]])
>>> a
array([[ 100, 4],
[ 32, 64],
[ 512, 1024]])
>>> b
array([[ 100, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
>>> c
array([[ 2, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
>>> d
array([[ 2, 8],
[ 32, 128],
[ 512, 2048]])
```

You changed the value `2`

in `arr`

to `100`

and altered the corresponding elements from the views `a`

and `b`

. The copies `c`

and `d`

can’t be modified this way.

To learn more about indexing NumPy arrays, you can check out the official quickstart tutorial and indexing tutorial.

### Indexing in pandas: Copies and Views

You’ve learned how you can use different indexing options in NumPy to refer to either actual data (a view, or shallow copy) or newly copied data (deep copy, or just copy). NumPy has a set of strict rules about this.

pandas heavily relies on NumPy arrays but offers additional functionality and flexibility. Because of that, the rules for returning views and copies are more complex and less straightforward. They depend on the layout of data, data types, and other details. In fact, pandas often doesn’t guarantee whether a view or copy will be referenced.

**Note:** Indexing in pandas is a very wide topic. It’s essential for using pandas data structures properly. You can use a variety of techniques:

- Dictionary-like notation
- Attribute-like (dot) notation
- The accessors
`.loc[]`

,`.iloc[]`

,`.at[]`

, and`.iat`

For more information, check out the official documentation and The pandas DataFrame: Make Working With Data Delightful.

In this section, you’ll see two examples of how pandas behaves similarly to NumPy. First, you can see that accessing the first three rows of `df`

with a slice returns a view:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df["a":"c"]
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
>>> df["a":"c"].to_numpy().base
array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16],
[ 1, 3, 9, 27, 81],
[45, 98, 24, 11, 64]])
>>> df["a":"c"].to_numpy().base is df.to_numpy().base
True
```

This view looks at the same data as `df`

.

On the other hand, accessing the first two columns of `df`

with a list of labels returns a copy:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df[["x", "y"]]
x y
a 1 1
b 2 3
c 4 9
d 8 27
e 16 81
>>> df[["x", "y"]].to_numpy().base
array([[ 1, 2, 4, 8, 16],
[ 1, 3, 9, 27, 81]])
>>> df[["x", "y"]].to_numpy().base is df.to_numpy().base
False
```

The copy has a different `.base`

than `df`

.

In the next section, you’ll find more details related to indexing DataFrames and returning views and copies. You’ll see some cases where the behavior of pandas becomes more complex and differs from NumPy.

## Use of Views and Copies in pandas

As you’ve already learned, pandas can issue a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

when you try to modify the copy of data instead of the original. This often follows chained indexing.

In this section, you’ll see some specific cases that produce a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

. You’ll identify the causes and learn how to avoid them by properly using views, copies, and accessors.

### Chained Indexing and `SettingWithCopyWarning`

You’ve already seen how the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

works with chained indexing in the first example. Let’s elaborate on that a bit.

You’ve created the DataFrame and the mask `Series`

object that corresponds to `df["z"] < 50`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> mask = df["z"] < 50
>>> mask
a True
b False
c True
d True
e False
Name: z, dtype: bool
```

You already know that the assignment `df[mask]["z"] = 0`

fails. In this case, you get a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

:

```
>>> df[mask]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

The assignment fails because `df[mask]`

returns a copy. To be more precise, the assignment is made on the copy, and `df`

isn’t affected.

You’ve also seen that in pandas, evaluation order matters. In some cases, you can switch the order of operations to make the code work:

```
>>> df["z"][mask] = 0
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 64
```

`df["z"][mask] = 0`

succeeds and you get the modified `df`

without a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

Using the accessors is recommended, but you can run into trouble with them as well:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc[mask]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

In this case, `df.loc[mask]`

returns a copy, the assignment fails, and pandas correctly issues the warning.

In some cases, pandas fails to detect the problem and the assignment on the copy passes without a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc[["a", "c", "e"]]["z"] = 0 # Assignment fails, no warning
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

Here, you don’t receive a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

and `df`

isn’t changed because `df.loc[["a", "c", "e"]]`

uses a list of indices and returns a copy, not a view.

There are some cases in which the code works, but pandas issues the warning anyway:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df[:3]["z"] = 0 # Assignment succeeds, with warning
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 0
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc["a":"c"]["z"] = 0 # Assignment succeeds, with warning
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 0
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

In these two cases, you select the first three rows with slices and get views. The assignments succeed both on the views and on `df`

. But you still receive a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

The recommended way of performing such operations is to avoid chained indexing. Accessors can be of great help with that:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df.loc[mask, "z"] = 0
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 0
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 64
```

This approach uses one method call, without chained indexing, and both the code and your intentions are clearer. As a bonus, this is a slightly more efficient way to assign data.

### Impact of Data Types on Views, Copies, and the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

In pandas, the difference between creating views and creating copies also depends on the data types used. When deciding if it’s going to return a view or copy, pandas handles DataFrames that have a single data type differently from ones with multiple types.

Let’s focus on the data types in this example:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index)
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> df.dtypes
x int64
y int64
z int64
dtype: object
```

You’ve created the DataFrame with all integer columns. The fact that all three columns have the same data types is important here! In this case, you can select rows with a slice and get a view:

```
>>> df["b":"d"]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 0
c 4 9 0
d 8 27 0
e 16 81 64
```

This mirrors the behavior that you’ve seen in the article so far. `df["b":"d"]`

returns a view and allows you to modify the original data. That’s why the assignment `df["b":"d"]["z"] = 0`

succeeds. Notice that in this case you get a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

regardless of the successful change to `df`

.

If your DataFrame contains columns of different types, then you might get a copy instead of a view, in which case the same assignment will fail:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(data=data, index=index).astype(dtype={"z": float})
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45.0
b 2 3 98.0
c 4 9 24.0
d 8 27 11.0
e 16 81 64.0
>>> df.dtypes
x int64
y int64
z float64
dtype: object
>>> df["b":"d"]["z"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
x y z
a 1 1 45.0
b 2 3 98.0
c 4 9 24.0
d 8 27 11.0
e 16 81 64.0
```

In this case, you used .astype() to create a DataFrame that has two integer columns and one floating-point column. Contrary to the previous example, `df["b":"d"]`

now returns a copy, so the assignment `df["b":"d"]["z"] = 0`

fails and `df`

remains unchanged.

When in doubt, avoid the confusion and use the `.loc[]`

, `.iloc[]`

, `.at[]`

, and `.iat[]`

access methods throughout your code!

### Hierarchical Indexing and `SettingWithCopyWarning`

**Hierarchical indexing**, or MultiIndex, is a pandas feature that enables you to organize your row or column indices on multiple levels according to a hierarchy. It’s a powerful feature that increases the flexibility of pandas and enables working with data in more than two dimensions.

Hierarchical indices are created using tuples as row or column labels:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64])},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

Now you have the DataFrame `df`

with two-level column indices:

**The first level**contains the labels`powers`

and`random`

.**The second level**has the labels`x`

and`y`

, which belong to`powers`

, and`z`

, which belongs to`random`

.

The expression `df["powers"]`

will return a DataFrame containing all columns below `powers`

, which are the columns `x`

and `y`

. If you wanted to get just the column `x`

, then you could pass both `powers`

and `x`

. The proper way to do this is with the expression `df["powers", "x"]`

:

```
>>> df["powers"]
x y
a 1 1
b 2 3
c 4 9
d 8 27
e 16 81
>>> df["powers", "x"]
a 1
b 2
c 4
d 8
e 16
Name: (powers, x), dtype: int64
>>> df["powers", "x"] = 0
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 0 1 45
b 0 3 98
c 0 9 24
d 0 27 11
e 0 81 64
```

That’s one way to get and set columns in the case of multilevel column indices. You can also use accessors with multi-indexed DataFrames to get or modify the data:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64])},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df.loc[["a", "b"], "powers"]
x y
a 1 1
b 2 3
```

The example above uses `.loc[]`

to return a DataFrame with the rows `a`

and `b`

and the columns `x`

and `y`

, which are below `powers`

. You can get a particular column (or row) similarly:

```
>>> df.loc[["a", "b"], ("powers", "x")]
a 1
b 2
Name: (powers, x), dtype: int64
```

In this example, you specify that you want the intersection of the rows `a`

and `b`

with the column `x`

, which is below `powers`

. To get a single column, you pass the tuple of indices `("powers", "x")`

and get a `Series`

object as the result.

You can use this approach to modify the elements of DataFrames with hierarchical indices:

```
>>> df.loc[["a", "b"], ("powers", "x")] = 0
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 0 1 45
b 0 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
```

In the examples above, you avoid chained indexing both with accessors (`df.loc[["a", "b"], ("powers", "x")]`

) and without them (`df["powers", "x"]`

).

As you saw earlier, chained indexing can lead to a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64])},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 1 1 45
b 2 3 98
c 4 9 24
d 8 27 11
e 16 81 64
>>> df["powers"]
x y
a 1 1
b 2 3
c 4 9
d 8 27
e 16 81
>>> df["powers"]["x"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 0 1 45
b 0 3 98
c 0 9 24
d 0 27 11
e 0 81 64
```

Here, `df["powers"]`

returns a DataFrame with the columns `x`

and `y`

. This is just a view that points to the data from `df`

, so the assignment is successful and `df`

is modified. But pandas still issues a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

If you repeat the same code, but with different data types in the columns of `df`

, then you’ll get a different behavior:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64], dtype=float)},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 1 1 45.0
b 2 3 98.0
c 4 9 24.0
d 8 27 11.0
e 16 81 64.0
>>> df["powers"]
x y
a 1 1
b 2 3
c 4 9
d 8 27
e 16 81
>>> df["powers"]["x"] = 0
__main__:1: SettingWithCopyWarning:
A value is trying to be set on a copy of a slice from a DataFrame.
Try using .loc[row_indexer,col_indexer] = value instead
See the caveats in the documentation: https://pandas.pydata.org/pandas-docs/stable/user_guide/indexing.html#returning-a-view-versus-a-copy
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 1 1 45.0
b 2 3 98.0
c 4 9 24.0
d 8 27 11.0
e 16 81 64.0
```

This time, `df`

has more than one data type, so `df["powers"]`

returns a copy, `df["powers"]["x"] = 0`

makes a change on this copy, and `df`

remains unchanged, giving you a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

The recommended way to modify `df`

is to avoid chained assignment. You’ve learned that accessors can be very convenient, but they aren’t always needed:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64], dtype=float)},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df["powers", "x"] = 0
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 0 1 45
b 0 3 98
c 0 9 24
d 0 27 11
e 0 81 64
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64], dtype=float)},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> df.loc[:, ("powers", "x")] = 0
>>> df
powers random
x y z
a 0 1 45.0
b 0 3 98.0
c 0 9 24.0
d 0 27 11.0
e 0 81 64.0
```

In both cases, you get the modified DataFrame `df`

without a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

.

## Change the Default `SettingWithCopyWarning`

Behavior

The `SettingWithCopyWarning`

is a warning, not an error. Your code will still execute when it’s issued, even though it may not work as intended.

To change this behavior, you can modify the pandas `mode.chained_assignment`

option with `pandas.set_option()`

. You can use the following settings:

raises a`pd.set_option("mode.chained_assignment", "raise")`

`SettingWithCopyException`

.issues a`pd.set_option("mode.chained_assignment", "warn")`

`SettingWithCopyWarning`

. This is the default behavior.suppresses both the warning and the error.`pd.set_option("mode.chained_assignment", None)`

For example, this code will raise a `SettingWithCopyException`

instead of issuing a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

:

```
>>> df = pd.DataFrame(
... data={("powers", "x"): 2**np.arange(5),
... ("powers", "y"): 3**np.arange(5),
... ("random", "z"): np.array([45, 98, 24, 11, 64], dtype=float)},
... index=["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]
... )
>>> pd.set_option("mode.chained_assignment", "raise")
>>> df["powers"]["x"] = 0
```

In addition to modifying the default behavior, you can use `get_option()`

to retrieve the current setting related to `mode.chained_assignment`

:

```
>>> pd.get_option("mode.chained_assignment")
'raise'
```

You get `"raise"`

in this case because you changed the behavior with `set_option()`

. Normally, `pd.get_option("mode.chained_assignment")`

returns `"warn"`

.

Although you can suppress it, keep in mind that the `SettingWithCopyWarning`

can be very useful in notifying you about improper code.

## Conclusion

In this article, you learned what views and copies are in NumPy and pandas and what the differences are in their behavior. You also saw what a `SettingWithCopyWarning`

is and how to avoid the subtle errors it points to.

**In particular, you’ve learned the following:**

- Indexing-based assignments in NumPy and pandas can return either
**views**or**copies**. - Both views and copies can be useful, but they have
**different behaviors**. - Special care must be taken to avoid setting
**unwanted values**on copies. **Accessors**in pandas are very useful objects for properly assigning and referencing data.

Understanding views and copies is an important requirement for using NumPy and pandas properly, especially when you’re working with big data. Now that you have a solid grasp on these concepts, you’re ready to dive deeper into the exciting world of data science!

If you have questions or comments, then please put them in the comment section below.