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  1. Custom Types
  2. DataFrame

A Chalk DataFrame is a 2-dimensional data structure similar to pandas.Dataframe, but with richer underlying optimizations. In a Chalk DataFrame, the column headers are instances of chalk.feature. The Chalk DataFrame can be used to describe rows of data and as a wrapper for returning that data.

The Chalk DataFrame is parameterized by the feature values it contains. For example:


The DataFrame type is commutative on its type parameters. This property allows you to write the type parameters of a DataFrame in any order:

DataFrame[,] == DataFrame[,]

Constructing a DataFrame

You’re likely to use the Chalk DataFrame primarily as a type, or to handle one as the result of a SQL query. However, you can also construct a DataFrame directly.

From a dictionary

Much like a pandas.DataFrame, a chalk.DataFrame can be constructed from a dictionary. The keys of the dictionary are the headers and the values are the rows under each header. The keys can be specified as either strings (“taco.price”) or as their Python types (Taco.price). You can convert from a feature’s Python definition to a string with a cast: str(Taco.price) == "taco.price".

chalk_df = DataFrame(
    { ["t_1", "t_2", "t_3"],
        "taco.price": [1, 2, 10],
        str(Taco.contains_meat): [True, True, False],

In the above example, we use all forms of referencing a feature’s name.

From a list

You can create the same chalk.DataFrame by passing a list of feature sets:

chalk_df = DataFrame([
    Taco(id="t_1", price=1, contains_meat=True),
    Taco(id="t_2", price=2, contains_meat=True),
    Taco(id="t_3", price=10, contains_meat=False),

From a pandas.DataFrame

You can also convert to and from a pandas.DataFrame. We recommend using string values as the columns of the pandas.DataFrame.

import pandas as pd

        "": ["t_1", "t_2", "t_3"],
        "taco.price": [1, 2, 10],

The Chalk DataFrame can be converted to a pandas.DataFrame via the method .to_pandas():

df = DataFrame(...)

From a SQL query

Chalk’s SQL integrations output the type DataFrame. For more information, see the SQL Integration section.

pg = PostgreSQLSource()

def fn() -> DataFrame[Login.ts, Login.user_id, Login.status]:
    return pg.query(


DataFrame.count()The number of rows in a DataFrame
DataFrame.mean()The average for each column in the DataFrame
DataFrame.sum()The sum of each column in the DataFrame
DataFrame.max()The maximum value for each column in the DataFrame
DataFrame.min()The minimum value for each column in the DataFrame

There will be only one row in the DataFrame after this operation, one for each value. If the DataFrame contained only a single column to start, then the value returned is a scalar.


You can select columns out of a DataFrame from the set of columns already present to produce a new DataFrame scoped down to those columns. For example:

df: DataFrame[,, User.age] = ...
projected = df[, User.age]
# type(projected) == DataFrame[, User.age]


In addition to selecting columns, you can filter the rows of a DataFrame. The example below restricts the rows of a DataFrame to only rows where the User is over 21 years old:

df: DataFrame[,, User.age]
f = df[User.age >= 21]
# type(f) == DataFrame[,, User.age]

Filtering a DataFrame keeps all the existing columns, but drops rows where the predicate is not met.

The Chalk DataFrame supports the standard comparison functions (<, <=, >, >=, in, is, is not, ==, and !=) for features and their matching scalars values. You can compose these filters with the boolean operations and, or, and not.

>, <, >=, <=User.age > 21
==, !=User.age is None
User.age is not None
AST-only feature.
is, is notUser.age is None
User.age is not None
AST-only feature.
in, not inUser.age in {17, 18}
User.age not in [17, 18]
AST-only feature.
or, and(User.state == “AL” and User.age >= 17)
or User.age >= 18
AST-only feature.
notnot (User.state == “AL” and User.age >= 17)AST-only feature.

The marked operations must be provided as direct arguments. They cannot first be assigned to a variable, and later provided as an argument. For example, DataFrame[User.age in {17, 18}] is valid, but defining x = User.age in {17, 18} and then running DataFrame[x] is not valid. The reason for this is that Python does not allow overriding these operations. However, Chalk’s aim is to allow developers to inspect and support natural Python syntax. To that end, Chalk parses the AST to override these operations, with the restriction that they are provided as arguments directly.

Composing Filters

To filter on multiple columns, separate your filters by a comma:

df[User.age > 21, == ""]

Alternatively, use the and keyword between filters:

df[User.age > 21 and == ""]

Similarly, you can perform or queries with Python’s or keyword:

df[User.age > 21 or == ""]

All of these can be composed:

  User.age > 21 and ( == "" or
    User.full_name is None

Composing projections and filters

Filtering may be combined with projection. For example, you can select all the values for where the user is at least 21 years old as follows:

df: DataFrame[,, User.age]
projected = df[, User.age > 21]
# type(projected) == DataFrame[]

If you’d like to filter on a value and also return the value, you need to explicitly select it. You can amend the above example to include the User.age feature like so:

df: DataFrame[,, User.age]
projected = df[, User.age, User.age > 21]
# type(projected) == DataFrame[, User.age]

Performance (Vectorization, Laziness)

Chalk’s DataFrame is designed to support efficient operations across a variety of underlying data sources. DataFrame vectorizes scalar operations on data that is kept resident in memory. Chalk calls operations on data that is loaded into memory “strict execution”.

In coordination with Chalk’s Execution Engine, DataFrame is capable of pushing down filtering, projection, and aggregation operations to underlying data sources. Chalk calls this style of execution “lazy execution”.

Suppose that we use a DataFrame to query a SQL source:

def get_return_count(
    transfers: User.transfers[Transfer.status == "returned", after(days_ago=60)]
) -> User.returned_transactions_last_60:
    return transfers.count()

This ultimately results in (approximately) the following SQL query being executed:

SELECT COUNT(*) from transfers
WHERE status = 'returned' and
transfers.ts > current_date - interval '60' day;

This “push down” mechanism in lazy computation helps make computationally expensive operations execute quickly, since Chalk only needs to load a single integer from the underlying data source, instead of potentially all Transfer rows.