Discovering scientific data with Python

1 minute read

During my studies, Biochemistry students alwiays used Excel or OriginPro for analysis of experimental data. Starting my thesis in a theoretical laboratory finally introduced me to the every day use of Python.

Working with a bunch of data files can be quite tedious, especially when one has to keep track of their paths, to do analysis on their contents. Gladly there is one Python package trying to solve this problem: datreant.

Note: This post is not supposed to give a full review of the package, but only show a quick way to get started.

Let’s cut to the chase: grabbing paths to theoretical/experimental data files is never a fun task to solve again and again. Using Pythons os package, one can walk through a path and grab all file names. But why bother to create own solutions when someone already has done so?

Let us have a look at a simple datreant workflow:

# Import the datreant.core package and define a path where our data resides
In [1]: import datreant.core as dtr

In [2]: data_path = '<path-to-masters-thesis>/wetlab/data/c-laurdan/20161013'

So far we have not done anything special. We imported a package and set the path to the folder containing some experimental data.

# Create a Treant object inside data_path
In [3]: treant = dtr.Treant(data_path)

We now created a new Treant object inside the given path. Now what? datreant actually comes with a handy way of visualizing everything inside a given Treant using the Treant.draw() method.

In [4]: treant.draw()
 +-- 1B.txt
 +-- 1.txt
 +-- 2B.txt
 +-- 4.txt
 +-- 20161013_CLaurdan.opj
 +-- 3.txt
 +-- 4B.txt
 +-- 2.txt
 +-- Treant.94847b1d-7ef8-490a-a381-c509fd0b1ac0.json
 +-- 3B.txt

Note: Treant.94847b1d-7ef8-490a-a381-c509fd0b1ac0.json is a state file created by datreant.core storing information about the current Treant object. More information here.

This is neat. We immediately get to retrieve a list of all files inside this path, but we are only interested in the .txt files inside this folder.

To filter out everything else we just glob for files ending with .txt. Afterwards we use the abspaths method to retrieve the absolute file paths, instead of the Leaf objects that we would get otherwise.

In [5]: leaves = treant.glob('*.txt').abspaths

In [6]: leaves

Easy. Right? There is much more to datreant, but we will come back to that at some point later in time.