How to set a random seed in Pandas (not NumPy)

Updated: February 22, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


When working with data, reproducibility is key. Being able to reproduce your results is crucial in data analysis, machine learning models, and statistical reporting. While many Python users are familiar with setting a random seed in the NumPy library, fewer are aware of how to control randomness directly in Pandas. This tutorial will guide you through the process of setting a random seed in Pandas, ensuring that your data sampling, shuffling, and other operations involving randomness can be replicated reliably.

Understanding Randomness in Pandas

Before diving into the how-tos, it’s essential to understand how randomness works in Pandas. Pandas, under the hood, utilizes NumPy’s random number generation for tasks such as sampling. However, Pandas allows you to control randomness through its functions, sometimes independently of NumPy. This is particularly useful when your workflows involve Pandas predominantly and you wish to ensure reproducibility directly within this context.

Basic: Setting a Random Seed for Sampling

One common task in data processing is sampling your dataset. Let’s start with the most basic form of randomness control – setting a seed for random sampling in a Pandas DataFrame.

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({'A': range(1, 11), 'B': range(11, 21)})
# Set a random seed
seed = 42
# Sample 5 random rows
sampled_df = df.sample(n=5, random_state=seed)

This code snippet creates a DataFrame and samples 5 random rows from it, with the randomness controlled by the specified seed (42). The random_state parameter in the sample method allows us to set the seed.

Intermediate: Ensuring Reproducibility in Data Shuffling

Data shuffling is another area where controlling randomness is essential, especially in machine learning for dividing datasets into training and validation sets. Here’s how you can shuffle your DataFrame rows:

from sklearn.utils import shuffle
# Ensure reproducibility in shuffling
shuffled_df = shuffle(df, random_state=42)

This method uses shuffle from the sklearn library, requiring you to install sklearn if you haven’t already. The random_state parameter here serves the same purpose as in the previous example.

Advanced: Combining pandas with NumPy for Complex Operations

In some cases, you might need to involve NumPy for more complex random operations, such as generating random numbers or arrays that you then use in Pandas operations. While this guide focuses on Pandas, it’s worth mentioning how to synchronize randomness between Pandas and NumPy.

import numpy as np
# Synchronize random states
# Now operations using NumPy's randomness
# will be reproducible and aligned with
# Pandas operations that use the same seed
random_array = np.random.rand(5)
df['C'] = pd.Series(random_array)

This ensures that random operations within NumPy that might affect your Pandas data handling are also reproducible and in sync with your specified seed.

Using External Libraries for Random Operations in Pandas

External libraries, like sklearn for machine learning tasks, often integrate with Pandas DataFrames. As observed with the shuffle function earlier, these external libraries typically provide a random_state parameter to ensure reproducibility. Always make sure to set this parameter for predictable outcomes.


Reproducibility is a cornerstone of data science and analytics, requiring careful management of randomness. This tutorial has outlined several methods to set a random seed in Pandas, alongside discussing their interoperability with NumPy and external libraries. Implementing these strategies ensures that your data processing tasks, sampling, and shuffling can be replicated precisely, upholding the integrity of your analyses.