Command Line Tricks For Data Scientists

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2021-06-11 16:30:04

For many data scientists, data manipulation begins and ends with Pandas or the Tidyverse. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this notion. It is, after all, why these tools exist in the first place. Yet, these options can often be overkill for simple tasks like delimiter conversion.

Aspiring to master the command line should be on every developer’s list, especially data scientists. Learning the ins and outs of your shell will undeniably make you more productive. Beyond that, the command line serves as a great history lesson in computing. For instance, awk - a data-driven scripting language. Awk first appeared in 1977 with the help of Brian Kernighan, the K in the legendary K&R book. Today, some near 50 years later, awk remains relevant with new books still appearing every year! Thus, it’s safe to assume that an investment in command line wizardry won’t depreciate any time soon.

File encodings can be tricky. For the most part files these days are all UTF-8 encoded. To understand some of the magic behind UTF-8, check out this excellent video. Nonetheless, there are times where we receive a file that isn’t in this format. This can lead to some wonky attempts at swapping the encoding schema. Here, iconv is a life saver. Iconv is a simple program that will take text in one encoding and output the text in another.

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