Anatomy of a Polars Query: A Syntax Comparison of Polars vs SQL

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Transitioning from Pandas to Polars the easy way — by taking a pit stop at SQL.

Ben Feifke
Towards Data Science

The secret’s out! Polars is the hottest thing on the block, and everybody wants a slice 😎

I recently wrote a post, “The 3 Reasons I Permanently Switched From Pandas to Polars”, because, well, this is one of the most common use-cases for picking up Polars — as a drop-in replacement for Pandas. However, even though this is the most common use-case, transitioning from Pandas to Polars can be a bit strange given the heavy differences in syntax between the two.

In my earlier blog post, I discussed how Pandas forces its users to perform data queries in an object-oriented programming approach, while Polars enables its users to perform data queries in a data-oriented programming approach, much like SQL. As such, even though Polars most often serves as a drop-in replacement for Pandas, if you’re trying to learn Polars, comparing it to SQL is likely a much easier starting point than comparing it to Pandas. The objective of this post is to do just that: to compare Polars syntax to SQL syntax as a primer for getting up and running with Polars.