Calculate Correlation of DataFrame Features/Columns with Pandas

Checking for correlation, and quantifying correlation is one of the key steps during exploratory data analysis and forming hypotheses.

Pandas is one of the most widely used data manipulation libraries, and it makes calculating correlation coefficients between all numerical variables very straightforward - with a single method call.

Let's load in a dataset from Scikit-Learn and pack it into a DataFrame:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
from sklearn.datasets import fetch_california_housing

# Target column is under, the rest is under
ch = fetch_california_housing(as_frame=True)
df = pd.DataFrame(, columns=ch.feature_names)
df['MedHouseVal'] =


It's loaded correctly!

Get All Correlation Coefficients

Now, to get the correlations between all of the numerical features, we simply call df.corr() (which defaults to Pearson Correlation):


The method call returns a DataFrame with the correlations and the same columns:

Though, since a tabular format isn't really intuitive or readable - let's plot this as a heat map:

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import seaborn as sns
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(10, 6))

sns.heatmap(df.corr(), ax=ax, annot=True)

Get Correlation to Target Variable

Say we're interested in a single target variable and would like to see which features correlate with it. We'll calculate the correlations with df.corr() and then subset the resulting DataFrame to only include the target column:

corr = df.corr()[['MedHouseVal']]
sns.heatmap(corr, annot=True)

Sort Correlation Coefficients

More often than not - you'll want to sort the values as well:

corr = df.corr()[['MedHouseVal']].sort_values(by='MedHouseVal', ascending=False)
sns.heatmap(corr, annot=True)

Pearson, Spearman and Kendall Rank Coefficients with Pandas

The corr() method accepts three coefficient methods - 'pearson', 'spearman' and 'kendall':

fig, ax = plt.subplots(1,3, figsize=(18, 8))

corr1 = df.corr('pearson')[['MedHouseVal']].sort_values(by='MedHouseVal', ascending=False)
corr2 = df.corr('spearman')[['MedHouseVal']].sort_values(by='MedHouseVal', ascending=False)
corr3 = df.corr('kendall')[['MedHouseVal']].sort_values(by='MedHouseVal', ascending=False)

sns.heatmap(corr1, ax=ax[0], annot=True)
sns.heatmap(corr2, ax=ax[1], annot=True)
sns.heatmap(corr3, ax=ax[2], annot=True)
Last Updated: June 6th, 2023
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