AI Assistants: A Framework for Semi-Automated Data Wrangling

Tomas Petricek, Gerrit J.J. van Den Burg, Alfredo Nazábal, Taha Ceritli, Ernesto Jiménez-Ruiz, Christopher K I Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data wrangling tasks such as obtaining and linking data from various sources, transforming data formats, and correcting erroneous records, can constitute up to 80% of typical data engineering work. Despite the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, data wrangling remains a tedious and manual task. We introduce AI assistants, a class of semi-automatic interactive tools to streamline data wrangling. An AI assistant guides the analyst through a specific data wrangling task by recommending a suitable data transformation that respects the constraints obtained through interaction with the analyst.
We formally define the structure of AI assistants and describe how existing tools that treat data cleaning as an optimization problem fit the definition. We implement AI assistants for four common data wrangling tasks and make AI assistants easily accessible to data analysts in an open-source notebook environment for data science, by leveraging the common structure they follow. We evaluate our AI assistants both quantitatively and qualitatively through three example scenarios. We show that the unified and interactive design makes it easy to perform tasks that would be difficult to do manually or with a fully automatic tool.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2022


  • Data Wrangling
  • Data Cleaning
  • Human-in-the-Loop


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