Your First Dataflow

Let’s get started with a dataflow that computes statistics on a time-series of marketing spend.

We’re jumping in head-first. If you want to start with an overview, skip ahead to Concepts.


You can follow along in the examples directory of the hamilton repo. We highly recommend forking the repo and playing around with the code to get comfortable.

Write transformation functions

Create a file and add the following two functions:

import pandas as pd

def avg_3wk_spend(spend: pd.Series) -> pd.Series:
    """Rolling 3 week average spend."""
    return spend.rolling(3).mean()

def acquisition_cost(avg_3wk_spend: pd.Series, signups: pd.Series) -> pd.Series:
    """The cost per signup in relation to a rolling average of spend."""
    return avg_3wk_spend / signups

An astute observer might ask the following questions:

  1. Why do the parameter names clash with the function names? This is core to how hamilton works. It utilizes dependency injection to create a DAG of computation. Parameter names tell the framework where your function gets its data.

  2. OK, if the parameter names determine the source of the data, why have we not defined defined `spend` or `signups` as functions? This is OK, as we will provide this data as an input when we actually want to materialize our functions. The DAG doesn’t have to be complete when it is compiled.

  3. Why is there no main line to call these functions? Good observation. In fact, we never will call them (directly)! This is one of the core principles of Hamilton. You write individual transforms and the rest is handled by the framework. More on that next.

  4. The functions all output pandas series. What if I don’t want to use series? You don’t have to! Hamilton is not opinionated on the data type you use. The following are all perfectly valid as well (and we support dask/spark/ray/other distributed frameworks).

Let’s add a few more functions to our file:

def spend_mean(spend: pd.Series) -> float:
    """Shows function creating a scalar. In this case it computes the mean of the entire column."""
    return spend.mean()

def spend_zero_mean(spend: pd.Series, spend_mean: float) -> pd.Series:
    """Shows function that takes a scalar. In this case to zero mean spend."""
    return spend - spend_mean

def spend_std_dev(spend: pd.Series) -> float:
    """Function that computes the standard deviation of the spend column."""
    return spend.std()

def spend_zero_mean_unit_variance(spend_zero_mean: pd.Series, spend_std_dev: float) -> pd.Series:
    """Function showing one way to make spend have zero mean and unit variance."""
    return spend_zero_mean / spend_std_dev

Let’s give these functions a spin!

Run your dataflow

To actually run the dataflow, we’ll need to write a driver. Create with the following contents:

import logging
import sys

import pandas as pd

import my_functions  # we import the module here!
from hamilton import driver

logger = logging.getLogger(__name__)

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # Instantiate a common spine for your pipeline
    index = pd.date_range("2022-01-01", periods=6, freq="w")
    initial_columns = {  # load from actuals or wherever -- this is our initial data we use as input.
        # Note: these do not have to be all series, they could be scalar inputs.
        'signups': pd.Series([1, 10, 50, 100, 200, 400], index=index),
        'spend': pd.Series([10, 10, 20, 40, 40, 50], index=index),
    # we need to tell hamilton where to load function definitions from
    config = {} # we don't have any configuration or invariant data for this example.
    dr = driver.Driver(config, my_functions)  # can pass in multiple modules
    # we need to specify what we want in the final dataframe.
    output_columns = [
    # let's create the dataframe!
    df = dr.execute(output_columns, inputs=initial_columns)
    # `pip install sf-hamilton[visualization]` earlier you can also do
    # dr.visualize_execution(output_columns,'./', {})

Run the script with the following command:


And you should see the following output:

            spend  signups  avg_3wk_spend  acquisition_cost
2022-01-02     10        1            NaN            10.000
2022-01-09     10       10            NaN             1.000
2022-01-16     20       50      13.333333             0.400
2022-01-23     40      100      23.333333             0.400
2022-01-30     40      200      33.333333             0.200
2022-02-06     50      400      43.333333             0.125

Not only is your spend to signup ratio decreasing exponentially (your product is going viral!), but you’ve also successfully run your first Hamilton Dataflow. Kudos!

See, wasn’t that quick and easy?