Pandas DataFrame: Calculate the cumulative sum/avg of each group

Updated: February 21, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


In this tutorial, we will be diving into the application of calculating the cumulative sum and average for each group within a Pandas DataFrame. This functionality can be particularly useful when working with time-series data, financial data, or any dataset where you need to perform group-wise calculations to understand trends or to prepare your data for further analysis. We’ll start with the basics and progressively cover more advanced examples, including handling missing values and implementing custom functions for group-wise calculations.

Getting Started

First, ensure you have Pandas installed in your environment. You can install Pandas using pip:

pip install pandas

Once installed, import Pandas in your Python script or Jupyter notebook:

import pandas as pd

Basic Cumulative Sum and Average

To begin, let’s create a simple DataFrame to work with:

data = {
  'Group': ['A', 'A', 'B', 'B', 'A', 'B', 'A', 'B'],
  'Value': [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
df = pd.DataFrame(data)

Now, to calculate the cumulative sum for each group:

df['CumSum'] = df.groupby('Group')['Value'].cumsum()


  Group  Value  CumSum
0     A      1       1
1     A      2       3
2     B      3       3
3     B      4       7
4     A      5       8
5     B      6      13
6     A      7      15
7     B      8      21

For the cumulative average:

df['CumAvg'] = df.groupby('Group')['Value'].expanding().mean().reset_index(level=0, drop=True)


  Group  Value  CumSum    CumAvg
0     A      1       1  1.000000
1     A      2       3  1.500000
2     B      3       3  3.000000
3     B      4       7  3.500000
4     A      5       8  2.333333
5     B      6      13  4.333333
6     A      7      15  3.500000
7     B      8      21  5.000000

Handling Missing Values

It’s common to encounter missing values in datasets. When calculating cumulative sums or averages, you must decide how to handle these values. One approach is to fill missing values with a defined value (like 0) before performing cumulative calculations:

df['Value'].fillna(0, inplace=True)

Then, proceed with the cumulative sum or average calculation. This ensures that missing values do not interrupt your calculations.

Using Custom Functions for Group-wise Calculations

In some situations, you might want to apply a more complex operation to each group. This can be achieved by using the .apply() method in combination with a custom function. For example, if you want to calculate a weighted cumulative average:

def weighted_cumavg(group, weight_col):
    cumsum = group[weight_col].cumsum()
    weighted_sum = (group[weight_col] * group['Value']).cumsum()
    return weighted_sum / cumsum

df['WeightedCumAvg'] = df.groupby('Group').apply(lambda x: weighted_cumavg(x, 'Weight')).reset_index(level=0, drop=True)

Note that you need to ensure the `weight_col` exists in your DataFrame before applying this function.

Advanced Techniques

For datasets that span large time periods or require more granular analysis, you might find it necessary to calculate cumulative sums or averages within specific time windows. This can be handled using the .rolling() method after grouping, enabling you to specify a rolling window over which to perform your calculations.

df['RollingCumSum'] = df.groupby('Group')['Value'].rolling(window=3).sum().reset_index(level=0, drop=True)

Similarly, for rolling averages:

df['RollingCumAvg'] = df.groupby('Group')['Value'].rolling(window=3).mean().reset_index(level=0, drop=True)

These rolling calculations allow for more dynamic and flexible analyses, particularly when dealing with time-varying data.


This tutorial has covered how to calculate cumulative sums and averages grouped by categories within a Pandas DataFrame, starting from basic examples and moving on to more sophisticated scenarios. By mastering these techniques, you can derive meaningful insights from your data and prepare it for further statistical analysis or machine learning applications. Remember, the key to effective data analysis is not just computational capability but also creative problem-solving and critical thinking.