Why are attributes lost after copying a Pandas DataFrame

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Why is it not possible to pass attributes of an instance through a copy? I want to pass the name attribute to another dataframe.

import copy df = pd.DataFrame([1,2,3]) df.name = 'sheet1' df2 = copy.deepcopy(df)  print(f'df.name: {df.name}') >> df.name: sheet1  print(f'df2.name: {df2.name}') >>    AttributeError             ...             'DataFrame' object has no attribute 'name' 

Similarly, why does this also not work, when creating a class and inheriting from it?

class df_with_name(pd.DataFrame):      def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):         self.__init__ = super().__init__(*args, **kwargs)         print('lol')      @property     def name(self):         return self._name      @name.setter     def name(self, value):         self._name = value 

and using the same code:

import copy df = df_with_name([1,2,3]) df.name = 'sheet1' df2 = copy.deepcopy(df)  print(f'df.name: {df2.name}') >>    AttributeError             ...             'DataFrame' object has no attribute 'name' 


As noted elsewhere, the DataFrame class has a custom __deepcopy__ method which does not necessarily copy arbitrary attributes assigned to an instance, as with a normal object.

Interestingly, there is an internal _metadata attribute that seems intended to be able to list additional attributes of an NDFrame that should be kept when copying/serializing it. This is discussed some here: https://github.com/pandas-dev/pandas/issues/9317

Unfortunately this is still considered an undocumented internal detail, so it probably shouldn't be used. From looking at the code you can in principle do:

mydf = pd.DataFrame(...) mydf.name = 'foo' mydf._metadata += ['name'] 

and when you copy it it should take the name with it.

You could subclass DataFrame to make this the default:

import functools  class NamedDataFrame(pd.DataFrame):     _metadata = pd.DataFrame._metadata + ['name']      def __init__(self, name, *args, **kwargs):         self.name = name         super().__init__(*args, **kwargs)      @property     def _constructor(self):         return functools.partial(self.__class__, self.name) 

You could also do this without relying on this internal _metadata attribute if you provide your own wrapper to the existing copy method, and possibly also __getstate__ and __setstate__.

Update: It seems actually use of the _metadata attribute for extending Pandas classes is now documented. So the above example should more or less work. These docs are more for development of Pandas itself so it might still be a bit volatile. But this is how Pandas itself extends subclasses of NDFrame.

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