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From "Mohit Jaggi (JIRA)" <>
Subject [jira] [Commented] (ARROW-81) C++: Add a Category nested type
Date Wed, 17 Aug 2016 16:55:20 GMT


Mohit Jaggi commented on ARROW-81:

When I was working on feature engineering earlier I struggled with this question too. My conclusion
was to let the semantic of "category" be left for interpretation by a higher layer (typically
feature engineering or machine learning). In "raw" data a category might be represented in
several ways (string, boolean=one hot encoding, number etc) anyway so supporting this at a
lower layer would impose constraints on the "raw" data. And then whose responsibility will
it be to "prepare" the data to satisfy this constraint?
Moreover, concepts like "ordered" are also fuzzy. A set of categories may be unordered for
machine learning code but may be ordered for display in a UI. If Arrow is below both layers
then this would be confusing.

> C++: Add a Category nested type
> -------------------------------
>                 Key: ARROW-81
>                 URL:
>             Project: Apache Arrow
>          Issue Type: New Feature
>          Components: C++
>            Reporter: Wes McKinney
>            Assignee: Wes McKinney
> A Category (or "factor") is a dictionary-encoded array whose dictionary has semantic
meaning. The data consists of
> - An array of integer "codes"
> - A child array of some other type, known as the "categories" or "levels" of the array.
Typically there is an "ordered" boolean flag indicating whether the order of the categories
is meaningful.
> Category/factor types are used in a number of common statistical analyses. See, for example, It is a basic requirement
for Python and R, at least, as Arrow C++ consumers, to have this type. Separately, we should
consider what is necessary to be able to transmit category data in IPCs -- possible an expansion
of the Arrow format. 

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