Frits Verstraten - 5 months ago 27

Python Question

I have the following code

`import pandas as pd`

from sklearn.preprocessing import StandardScaler

import numpy as np

df.columns=['sepal_len', 'sepal_wid', 'petal_len', 'petal_wid', 'class']

df.dropna(how="all", inplace=True) # drops the empty line at file-end

X = df.ix[:,0:4].values

y = df.ix[:,4].values

Next I am scaling the data and get the mean values:

`X_std = StandardScaler().fit_transform(X)`

mean_vec = np.mean(X_std, axis=0)

What I do not get is that my output is this:

`[ -4.73695157e-16 -6.63173220e-16 3.31586610e-16 -2.84217094e-16]`

I do understand how these values can be anything other than 0. If I scale it, it should be 0 zero right?

Could anyone explain to me what happens here?

Answer

In practice those values are so close to 0 that you can consider them to be 0.

The scaler tries to set the mean to be zero, but due to limitations with numerical representation it can only get the mean really close to 0.

Check this question on the precision of floating point arithmetics.

Also interesting is the concept of Machine Epsilon and that for a float 64 is something like 2.22e-16