Purnendu Shukla — Published On November 12, 2021 and Last Modified On December 10th, 2021
Beginner Guide Machine Learning Python

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon


Hey all,

I am sure you must have played pokemon games at some point in time and must have hated the issue of creating an optimal and balanced team to gain an advantage. What if I say one can do this by having some knowledge of python, data science, and python. Pretty interesting, right?

This article is a walkthrough to perform just that using PuLp, the linear programming and optimization library.

Here is a quick summary of the gameplay, which will be helpful later on.

A Quick Refresher

(You may skip if already known :)

This section is optional and contains a summary of game mechanics in a few points:

1. Pokemon are animal-like creatures that are obtainable by battling them. Each one has its primary Type and weakness or advantage over the others. They can also undergo a genetic transformation two times called evolution. (later has mega-evolution!)

2.  Evolution allows an increase in overall strengths, changes in forms, and even provides additional typings.

3. The game mechanics also allow for powerful pokemon(legendaries) caught at the end of the game and give upper advantages to the yielder.

For gameplay:

1.  One starts as a lead character who can choose their first pokemon called stater pokemon out of 3.

2. Having chosen, they embark on a journey to defeat eight gym leaders, specializing in a specific type, to enter a  Pokemon league tournament.

3. Once entered, they are required to defeat four powerful trainers and the champion(uses a variety of different pokemon types)

Finally, this clarifies our goal: Can we create a helpful team in fighting these 12 trainers and probably the last one?.


For the Problem in hand, we will be using two datasets:

Pokemon dataset from Kaggle: For pokemon names and stats.

Type_chart:  For type matchups and effects.

It will be great to download both datasets(pokemon.csv & Pokemon Type Chart.csv), save them in a separate folder(datasets), and follow along.

Loading the Dataset 

We start by loading the CSV file using pandas and printing a few results:

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
team_df = pd.read_csv("Datasets/pokemon.csv")



pulp dataset

pokemon-dataset – Image by Author

The dataset consists of 721 pokemon, including their id, name, generation, stats, legendary and original stats breakdown. Table 1.1 shows the details:

table by author | PuLP

table 1.1 – Image By Author

Note:  We will use pokemon data until generation 4 and remove legendaries and mega evolved to get a fair dataset.

Changing column names

Now, for understanding purposes, let’s change the name of # to id :

team_df = team_df.rename(columns= {"#" : "id"})


Changing column names | Pulp

# -> id – Image by Author

Filtering the Pokemons

Since the dataset consists of extra pokemons, filter the dataset to only include pokemons up to required, achieved by filtering over the “id” column. However, one needs to store all the indices first; gen 4 is easy, but for gen1-3, only was is to hold the index manually:

Filtering the Pokemons | pulp
Image By Author

The image shows the code which keeps the index of 110 pokemons quickly verifiable using:

# checking len
>> 110

By performing filtering operation on Pokedex results in desires dataset

# creating pokedex

pokedex = gen4+gen1_gen3

# filtering out the dataset based on pokedex till gen 4

gen4_dex =  team_df[team_df.id.isin(pokedex)]



Image By Author

Notice how the no of rows decreased from 721 to 243; this represents the filtering was successful.

Expelling duplicate & legendaries

A careful evaluation of the above image reveals the same names for some pokemon(Shaymin). As our constraint is not to use those, we will drop them using their id’s

# removing dupilacates like id -550,551 - Shaymin forms 

gen4_dex= gen4_dex.drop_duplicates(subset = ['id'])

Legendaries – “represented using True/ False,” so the filtering becomes easy.

# removing Legendary pokemon for fairness - just filtering non legendaries
gen4_dex = gen4_dex[gen4_dex.Legendary == False]
Expelling duplicate & legendaries
Image By Author

Output: The result is a dataset with all filtering performed.

Loading Type Chart

As our data is now ready for analysis, we now need to load the type chart which will help us in creating a matrix:

# loading dataset- type_chart
type_chart = pd.read_csv("Datasets/pkmn_type_chart.csv" , index_col=[0])

Here index_col =[0] is because we don’t want to include our 1st column( numbers)


Loading Type Chart
type chart – Image By Author

The numeric values in the dataset are just quantification of how each move affects the other. For easy understanding. I have summarized the dataset below:

Image By Author

Selecting Pokemon Types Based On Gym Leaders And Elite Fours

The idea of using a type chart was to track which pokemon type has an advantage over gym leaders and elite four’s, i.e. 12 types. We can achieve this by filtering our dataset over the types used by the leaders and elites.

# storing types for reference

pkmn_types = ['Rock', 'Grass', 'Fighting', 'Water', 'Ghost', 'Steel',

         'Ice', 'Electric', 'Bug', 'Ground', 'Fire', 'Psychic'] 

# filtering  

gym_elite_four = type_chart[[c for c in type_chart.columns if c in pkmn_types]]



Selecting Pokemon Types Based On Gym Leaders And Elite Fours
Image By Author

Removal of fairy type confirms the filtering executed favourably.

Objective Function

Recall the objective – We need a set of 6 pokemon that are super effective against at least one of the gym and elite fours, with the constraints :

1. No legendaries, mythical or mega evolution [C, S] allowed (gen 4 – has no mega evolution) 

2. The team has at least one starter pokemon[S] + their evolutions (optional).

With the rules defined, we can refer to the above as an LPP, and the goal is to optimize the below function:

Objective Function


Under the imposed restrictions:

Under the imposed restrictions
Under the imposed restrictions
Under the imposed restrictions:4

Images By Author

Where :

Note:  S is M -> Image By Author

Creating Binary Matrix Aij

According to the equation, we must store all the variable values; achieved by iterating through all the required columns.

# changing Types 1 to Type to insure no error 
#while iterating using pandas
gen4_dex = gen4_dex.rename(columns= {"Type 1" : "Type1"})
gen4_dex = gen4_dex.rename(columns= {"Type 2" : "Type2"})
# creating list

ids = [] # contains the id of each pokemon

names = [] # list containg all the pokemon names

total_stats = []  # total stats/ total column of pokemon dataset

effective_type =[] # store pokemon type which are effective agaist the opponents pokemon

# iterating through entire data to store different variables

i = 0 # counter/ iterator

for row in gen4_dex.itertuples(index=True, name='Pandas'):



    # Check what types the Pokemon is strong against

    effective_type.append([1 if s >= 2.0 else 0 for s in list(gym_elite_four.loc[row.Type1])])


    # Accounting for any secondary typings, and adding onto any advantages conferred


        effective_type[i] = list(np.add(strengths[i], 

                                        [1 if s >= 2.0 else 0 

                                         for s in list(gym_elite_four.loc[row.Type2])]))



    i += 1

# Equals 1 if the Pokemon is strong against the type indicated; 0 otherwise 

#--> 206 by 18 matrix # Aij

advantage = [[1 if r >= 1 else 0 for r in effective_type[i]] for i in range(206)]

# Create the set of starter Pokemon

starterNames = ['Turtwig', 'Grotle', 'Torterra', 

                'Chimchar', 'Monferno', 'Infernape',

               'Piplup', 'Prinplup', 'Empoleon']

starter_idx = []

for pkmn in starterNames:


# creating mythyical indices list to later include the constraints

mythical_names = ['Cresselia', 'Manaphy'] # list of names 

# using names to find the index of pokemon and adding mythical index

mythical_idx = []

for i in mythical_names:


The above code is self-explanatory and requires a bit of intermediate python knowledge. The different variable represents the equation , e.g staterName – S in eq

The Final Piece – Using the PuLp Library

Now that we have Aij(sparse matrix) & all the required values stored as a list, it is time to use PuLp library to solve our optimization problem. So let’s do that!

Understanding PuLP Library

Plup is a python library for construction solving optimization problems as us Linear Programing. It is very intuitive and user-friendly due to its syntax. Also, it has a wide variety of integration to create LP files, such as GNU  Language Programming Kit (GLPK), CBC, CPLEX, etc. which makes it easy to work with and is ideal for our use case:

Usage of PuLp Library

Plup library utilizes classes and their associated functions to carry out the optimization. So let’s understand them first:

LpProblem – Base Class for Linear Problem –  Problem Initialization

# start a linear problem 
P = LpProblem("name",objective) # LpMaximize/LpMinimize

LpVariable – Class to Store added variables – Add Variables

# adding variable # start , end : 1,5 i.e 1<=var<=5
var = LpVariable("var_name", start, end)

IpSum – function to create a linear expression; can be used as constraint or variable later on

#expression of form var1*var2+c
exp = lpSum([var1*var2+c])
#returns : [a1*x1, a2x2, …, anxn]

solve: solves the Problem:


For more info on the library, refer to the original documentation. I have only included those that we will be using.

With this, we can now proceed to our final code.

The Code

Install Pulp:

!pip install pulp
# import everthying from plup

from pulp import *

# define model name and objective end goal - max/min

best_team = LpProblem("optimal_team", LpMaximize)

# defining a sparce matrix for pokemon i.e mask with 0 & 1s which will be later populated

Pokemon = LpVariable.dicts("Pokemon", range(206), cat=LpBinary) # 206 pokemon to consider - Binary - O,1

# defining the objective fn to maximize - defined earlier

# TiPi - # pkmn is the iterator variable used

best_team += lpSum([total_stats[pkmn] * Pokemon[pkmn] 

                    for pkmn in range(206)])

# adding contraint that we need only 6 pokemon on team(pi = 6)

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in range(206)]) == 6

# adding 2nd constraint that out team should have one starter pokemon(S)

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in starter_idx]) == 1

# adding contraints that we can't use mythical pokemon(C,M)

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in mythical_idx]) == 0

# adding contraint that team should have 

#atleast one pokemon which has type advantage against

#one of the Gym leader/Elite Four

for i in range(12):

    best_team += lpSum([advantage[pkmn][i] * Pokemon[pkmn] 

                        for pkmn in range(206)]) >=1

# finding the soltution


>> 1

6 Names can be checked by iterating through the mask model(Pokemon):

# printing out results - > Best 6 pokemons 
for i in range(206):
    if Pokemon[i].value() == 1:


complete code and output | pulp

Image By Author

As can be seen, we have all the six pokemon where infernape is the final form of chimchar (fire type starter ), and at least one is super effective against each gym and elite. For, E.g. Togekiss – Fairy Type has a super advantage over dragon types.


Now let’s look into another beneficial aspect of Linear Programing for creating pokemon teams. Notably, we will include only one stater/evolution chain (suitable for specific starter lovers), later extending it to have at least one of our desired pokemon.

A particular use case would be :

Objective1 – I am fond of grass staters, and our code returned me fire ones: (evident from the output of the last article):

so it’s beneficial to include them (no others) while keeping the team optimized.

Objective2 – Similarly, you like Pikachu but as apparent not in the returned team, and you desperately need it.

So to optimize our team, let’s start our journey.

Objective 1 – Including Only A Specific Set Of Starters

If you revise our optimization code, all we did was keep imposing restrictions on our optimization problem. We can perform the same for this objective, but the issue is, we can’t control whether to include other staters or not.

To solve this issue, we can take the help of a set difference(complement) operation as all of them can be thought of as elements of the list(universal set in black), and differencing the required will give rest for which we can apply constraints.

Here is a visual representation of the same:

Set Difference – Image By Author

As evident for any specific set, if the set difference is applied, it returns a new group without any particular set element. Now, this allows up to control our point, as mentioned earlier.

With this, let’s now modify our code a bit:

# Storing starter index -> full evolution chain

water_starters = [116, 117, 118]

grass_starters = [110,111,112]

fire_starters = [113,114,115]

# creating a list of non stater_types using set diffrence

not_water_starters = list(set(starter_idx)- set(water_starters))

not_fire_starters = list(set(starter_idx)- set(fire_starters))

not_grass_starters = list(set(starter_idx)- set(grass_starters))

The above code is equivalent to(represented using colored circles):

not_water_staters – Image by Author
not_fire_staters – Image by Author
not_grass_staters – Image By Author

Printing List proves the diagrams:

# quick verify
print("Not water staters: ",not_water_starters)
print("Not fire staters: ",not_fire_starters)
print("Not grass staters: ",not_grass_starters)
Image By Author

Having defined our compliments, let’s add the new rules. For this, we will take our old code and impose new constraints:

“The team should not have any complements and must have at least one starter/its evolved form.”

The below code is equivalent to the same:

# Intialize problem using name and objective

best_team = LpProblem("optimal_team", LpMaximize)

# defining a sparce matrix for pokemon i.e mask with 0 & 1s which will be later populated

Pokemon = LpVariable.dicts("Pokemon", range(206), cat=LpBinary) # 206 pokemon to consider

# defining the objective fn to maximize TiPi

best_team += lpSum([total_stats[pkmn] * Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in range(206)])

# adding contraint that we need only 6 pokemon on team

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in range(206)]) == 6

# constraint that we cant have mythical and pseudo legendary pokemons

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in mythical_idx]) == 0

# need alteast 1 user defined stater - here water

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in water_staters]) == 1

# No other staters 

best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in not_water_staters]) == 0 

# adding contraint that team should have atleast one pokemon which has type

# advantage against one of the Gym leader/Elite Four

for i in range(12):

best_team += lpSum([advantage[pkmn][i] * Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in range(206)]) >=1

# finding the soltution

>> 1

Excellent one represents the operation was successful. Let’s now print the result.

for i in range(206):
    if Pokemon[i].value() == 1:


Image By Author

The previous code can be modified to include others but complement the same(not_fire_stater/water/grass stater).

Objective 2 – Party Must-Have Our Desired Pokemon

Let’s now move to our second use case. Here we need to include our desired pokemon on the team, but the problem is we don’t know the index of the same, and it’s cumbersome to look through the entire database to find one and store it.

Don’t worry. The solution is in the code itself. Remember, we have found the mystical index using the same procedure, for reuse lets wrap the code as fn:

def index_finder(desired_namem, name_list):
    # iterate throught the name_list
    idx = []
    for i in desired_name:
    return idx

To use all needed is to pass the pokemon name in a list, and voila, you have the index :

desired_idx = index_finder([“Roserade”], names)

>> [130]

Note: this code only generates an index for gen four pokemon, for please change the names list(more specifically gen1_gen3).

Anyways let’s add our index to include at least just that in our above code. One-liner to perform this is :

# must have desired one
best_team += lpSum([Pokemon[pkmn] for pkmn in desired_idx]) == 1

After executing, results are evident and is as desired:

for i in range(206):
    if Pokemon[i].value() == 1:


Image By Author

Also, note nothing is stopping you from adding multiple pokemon to the list and get at least one:

desired_idx = index_finder([“Pikachu”, “Altaria”, “Rotom”, “Milotic”], names)




Learn Pulp: Toward Data Science Blog 

 Contact: LinkedIn | Twitter | Github 

 Code Files: Github 

 Inspiration: Code Basics, Jamshaid Shahir

The media shown in this article is not owned by Analytics Vidhya and are used at the Author’s discretion

About the Author

Purnendu Shukla

Hey All✋, My name is Purnendu Shukla a.k.a Harsh. I am a passionate individual who likes exploring & learning new technologies, creating real-life projects, and returning to the community as blogs. My Blogs range from various topics, including Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Optimization Problems, Excel and Python Guides, MLOps, Cloud Technologies, Crypto Mining, Quantum Computing.

Our Top Authors

Download Analytics Vidhya App for the Latest blog/Article

Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *