How to convert a Pandas Series to a NumPy array

Updated: February 17, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Pandas and NumPy are two cornerstone libraries in the Python data science ecosystem. Pandas, known for its powerful and flexible data structures, like DataFrames and Series, makes data manipulation easy and intuitive. NumPy, on the other hand, is celebrated for its array object and a wide arsenal of mathematical functions to perform operations on these arrays efficiently. In many scenarios, data scientists need to switch between these two data structures for various computational needs. This tutorial will explore how to convert a Pandas Series into a NumPy array, diving into multiple examples that ramp up in complexity. We will also explore why and when you might want to make this conversion.


Before diving into the conversion methods, make sure you have installed Pandas and NumPy. You can install them using pip:

pip install pandas numpy

Basic Conversion

The simplest way to convert a Pandas Series to a NumPy array is using the values attribute:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Creating a Pandas Series
s = pd.Series([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

# Converting to a NumPy array
np_array = s.values

# Displaying the array

The output will be:

[1 2 3 4 5]

Using to_numpy() Method

Another way to convert a Series to an array is by using the to_numpy() method. This method is more explicit and thus recommended for clarity:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Creating another Series
s = pd.Series(['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e'])

# Conversion
array = s.to_numpy()

# Display

The output:

['a' 'b' 'c' 'd' 'e']

Dealing with Date and Time

Converting a Series containing date and time data requires attention to the data type in the resulting NumPy array. By default, date and times in pandas are converted to NumPy’s datetime64 data type:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Creating a Series with date and time
s = pd.Series(pd.date_range('20230101', periods=5))

# Conversion
datetime_np_array = s.to_numpy()

# Displaying the array

Output will be an array of datetime64 types, which represents each date and time precisely:

['2023-01-01T00:00:00.000000000', '2023-01-02T00:00:00.000000000',
 '2023-01-03T00:00:00.000000000', '2023-01-04T00:00:00.000000000',

Custom Data Types

When you have a Series with custom data types (for example, categorical), the to_numpy() method allows you to specify the dtype for the conversion. This is useful if you want to convert the Series into a different type during the conversion process:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Creating a Series with a categorical type
s = pd.Series(['apple', 'banana', 'cherry'], dtype="categorical")

# Conversion specifying dtype
np_array = s.to_numpy(dtype='str')

# Display

The output will be a NumPy array of strings, regardless of the original categorical type:

['apple' 'banana' 'cherry']

Advanced: Working with Large Data

In practice, especially with large data sets, you might prefer to directly interact with NumPy arrays for performance reasons. When dealing with large Series, converting them to NumPy arrays can significantly reduce memory usage and computational time for certain operations. Here’s how you might handle a large dataset:

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Assume 's' is a large Series
# Converting directly and performing operations
np_array = pd.Series(np.random.randint(0, 1000000, size=1000000)).to_numpy()

# Example operation
mean_value = np.mean(np_array)

# Display
print("Mean value of the array:", mean_value)

This method is particularly useful when you need to perform numerical operations that might be optimized in NumPy.


Converting Pandas Series to NumPy arrays is a straightforward process, facilitated by built-in Pandas methods. Whether you need to perform heavy numerical computations, or you simply prefer the NumPy array structure, understanding these conversion techniques is a valuable skill in the data science toolkit. This guide aimed to provide a thorough exploration of these techniques, hopefully demystifying the process and offering insights into the efficient handling of data structures in Python.