Adventures in Machine Learning

Mastering Pandas: Techniques for Selecting Cell Values in DataFrames

Getting Cell Value from a Pandas DataFrame

If you’re analyzing data, you’re bound to come across a Pandas DataFrame. Pandas is a Python library that allows its users to perform data manipulation and analysis.

A DataFrame is a two-dimensional data structure comprising rows and columns. Each column, in turn, is a Series object.

You can select a column, a row, or a single cell of your DataFrame. In this article, we’ll explore the methods to get cell values and how they can be useful to beginner and advanced analysts alike.

Methods to Get Cell Values

The iloc(), at(), and values attributes are all similar in that they allow you to select elements from a DataFrame. However, there are some differences to note.

The iloc() function allows you to locate rows and columns by integer-based indexing. You can access any cell in the DataFrame using this method, provided you know the row and column numbers of that cell.

For example, given the following DataFrame:

        'points': [10, 20, 15, 13],
        'assists': [5, 6, 3, 8],
        'rebounds': [11, 9, 7, 6]

You can access the second element of the ‘rebounds’ column using iloc() like this:

df.iloc[1, 2]

The output of this command will be 9 since the second row and third column (zero-indexed) hold the value 9.

The at() method is similar to iloc(), but it’s faster when locating a single cell value.

It accepts row and column labels as arguments and returns the cell value. If you only need to access a single cell, use at() instead of iloc().

The syntax for retrieving the same value as above would be:[1, 'rebounds']

The values attribute returns the underlying Numpy array of the DataFrame column or row selected. It can be used to convert the DataFrame to a Numpy array and reduce overhead when computing statistical aggregates.

Example DataFrame

Let’s say an NBA fan wants to analyze the statistics of four basketball players in a game. The data could be stored in a DataFrame, with the rows representing each player and the columns representing their points, assists, and rebounds, as shown below:

        'points': [10, 20, 15, 13],
        'assists': [5, 6, 3, 8],
        'rebounds': [11, 9, 7, 6]

You can access any cell from this table using iloc(), at(), or values.

Here are some examples:

  • retrieve the third element of the ‘points’ column using iloc(): df.iloc[2, 0] (returns 15)
  • get the second row’s ‘assists’ using at():[1, ‘assists’] (returns 6)
  • obtain the entire ‘rebounds’ column as a Numpy array with: df[‘rebounds’].values (returns array([11, 9, 7, 6]))

1) Using the iloc Function to Get Cell Values

iloc() stands for integer location and is one of the most commonly used methods to get cell values from a Pandas DataFrame. It takes two arguments, an integer representing the row index, and an integer representing the column index.

The syntax for accessing a single cell value using iloc() is:

df.iloc[row_index, column_index]

For example, to get the value in the second row and third column, you can use:

df.iloc[1, 2]

The output of the above command will be 9 because that is the value present in the second row and third column of our example DataFrame. DataFrame({ ‘points’: [10, 20, 15, 13], ‘assists’: [5, 6, 3, 8], ‘rebounds’: [11, 9, 7, 6] })

If you want to get the value of an entire row or an entire column, you can use iloc() with the colon operator (:).

Here’s an example:

# get the entire second row
df.iloc[1, :]

The output will be a Series object containing the second row of the DataFrame. If you want to select an entire column, you can do so by providing an integer value for row index and a colon for column index.

Here is an example:

# get the 'points' column
df.iloc[:, 0]

The output will be a Series object containing the ‘points’ column of the DataFrame.

Getting Value in a Column and Row Using iloc

One of the most powerful features of iloc() is the ability to select a slice of columns or a slice of rows using the colon operator (:). The syntax for selecting a slice of a DataFrame using iloc() is:

df.iloc[start_row:end_row, start_column:end_column]

For example, to select rows two through four and columns two through three, you can use:

df.iloc[1:4, 1:3]

The output of this command will be a DataFrame object containing the specified slice of the original DataFrame.

Overall, the Pandas library provides a variety of techniques to select single cell values, rows, or columns of a DataFrame. iloc(), at(), and values are just a few of the many ways to retrieve values from a DataFrame.

If you learn how to use these methods effectively, you will be able to access, modify, and analyze data much more efficiently.

3) Using the at Function to Get Cell Values

Another method for selecting individual cell values from Pandas DataFrame is with the at() function. This function takes in two arguments- the label for the row and the column.

Here’s an example:

Consider this DataFrame:

        'points': [10, 20, 15, 13],
        'assists': [5, 6, 3, 8],
        'rebounds': [11, 9, 7, 6]

If you wanted to get the value at row index 2 for the column ‘rebounds’, you can use at() like so:[2, 'rebounds']

The output of this command will be 7 since that is the value in the third row of the column ‘rebounds’. This method is just like iloc() but instead of accepting the row and column numbers, it accepts the label for the row and the column.

However, if performance is of utmost importance, iloc() can be a more performant choice since it uses integer-based indexing.

Getting Value in a Column and Row Using at

In addition, at() can be used to retrieve a row or a column from the DataFrame. Here’s an example:

If you want to retrieve the second row of the DataFrame, you can use:[1,:]

This returns the entire second row as a Series object, i.e., the row with index 1.

If you want to get a specific column from the DataFrame, you can use:[:, 'assists']

This returns the entire ‘assists’ column of the DataFrame.

4) Using the values Function to Get Cell Values

Another way to select values from a DataFrame is to use the values attribute. The values of a DataFrame can be accessed using the dot notation followed by the values attribute.

DataFrame.values attribute returns an array of the underlying data. Let’s examine the syntax and uses of DataFrame.values.

Getting Value in a Column Using the values Function

To retrieve a column from a DataFrame, you can use the values attribute. This method can be used when you only want to retrieve the values and not the whole Series object.

Heres an example:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
                'Price': [10, 20, 30],
                'Tax': [1.5, 2.1, 3.2]

column_values = df['Price'].values


[10 20 30]

In this example, we created a new variable called column_values that holds the values of the ‘Price’ column of the DataFrame. By using the values attribute with the column name, we can retrieve only the values for that specific column.

The values attribute can also be used to retrieve multiple columns at once. Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
                'Price': [10, 20, 30],
                'Tax': [1.5, 2.1, 3.2],
                'Discount': [0.1, 0.2, 0.3]

column_values = df[['Price', 'Discount']].values


[[10.  0.1]
 [20.  0.2]
 [30.  0.3]]

In this example, we are retrieving values for two columns ‘Price’ and ‘Discount’. When we pass multiple column names as a list to the DataFrame, pandas internally selects these columns and returns a Numpy array of the combined result with the first column being ‘Price’ and the second column being ‘Discount’.


We’ve covered the various methods to get cell values from a Pandas DataFrame. iloc() can be utilizado to retrieve cell values based on integer-based indexing.

at() is similar to iloc() except that it accepts row and column labels instead of the integer-based index. Finally, you can also use the values attribute to retrieve column values from the DataFrame.

With these methods in your toolbox, you will be able to effectively analyze data in a Pandas DataFrame.

5) Additional Resources

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to get cell values from a Pandas DataFrame using iloc(), at(), and values, it’s time to further your knowledge and broaden your expertise in this area. The following resources can help you learn more about the Pandas library and ways to manipulate and analyze data in a DataFrame.

1. Pandas Documentation

The official documentation for Pandas is an essential resource for anyone learning or using the library.

It’s comprehensive and covers everything from DataFrame operations to I/O tools. The documentation is structured in an easy-to-use format that allows you to browse by topics or search for specific functions.

The documentation also provides code examples for most functions, making it easy to understand how they work. 2.

Pandas Cheat Sheet

The Pandas Cheat Sheet is a quick reference guide that summarizes many of the most commonly used Pandas functions and methods. It’s a useful resource for anyone new to Pandas who wants to get up to speed quickly.

The cheatsheet is available in PDF format and contains information on selecting data, basic operations, data manipulation, merging and joining data, and more. 3.


DataCamp is an online learning platform that offers courses on Python, Pandas, data science, and more. The Pandas course is one of the most popular on the platform and it covers everything from creating DataFrames to grouping and summarizing data.

The course includes video lectures, practice exercises, and quizzes to ensure understanding. DataCamp offers a free trial period if you want to try it out before committing to a subscription.

4. Pandas Cookbook

The Pandas Cookbook is a practical guide that teaches you how to solve real-world data analysis problems using Pandas.

The book provides recipes for commonly encountered data problems and offers solutions in a concise, step-by-step manner. The recipes are easy to follow and include screenshots and code snippets.

The book also discusses advanced topics like time series analysis and data visualization. 5.

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a popular Q&A website where you can ask and find answers to programming-related questions. There are many questions related to Pandas on Stack Overflow, and it’s a great resource to find solutions to common problems and errors that you may encounter.

You can also ask your own questions, and the community of developers will likely be able to help you.


In conclusion, becoming proficient with Pandas is a journey that requires continuous learning and practice. The resources we’ve outlined here will help you improve your understanding of how to get cell values from a Pandas DataFrame, and much more.

We recommend referring to these resources frequently when you encounter problems or need a refresher. With enough practice and patience, you can master this powerful library and unlock its full potential for manipulating and analyzing data in Python.

In conclusion, a Pandas DataFrame is a popular two-dimensional data structure used for data manipulation and analysis in Python. This article has explored three methods to get cell values: iloc(), at(), and values.

iloc() is used for integer-based indexing, at() accepts row and column labels, and values can be used to retrieve the values of one or more columns of the DataFrame. These methods are crucial for selecting specific data from the DataFrame and are useful for beginners and advanced analysts.

The takeaway is that with sufficient practice and study, Pandas can be a powerful tool for managing and manipulating data in Python, helping turn raw data into actionable insights.

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