In statistics, the **Kullback–Leibler (KL) divergence** is a distance metric that quantifies the difference between two probability distributions.

If we have two probability distributions, P and Q, we typically write the KL divergence using the notation KL(P || Q), which means “P’s divergence from Q.”

We calculate it using the following formula:

KL(P || Q) = ΣP(x) *ln*(P(x) / Q(x))

If the KL divergence between two distributions is zero, then it indicates that the distributions are identical.

We can use the scipy.special.rel_entr() function to calculate the KL divergence between two probability distributions in Python.

The following example shows how to use this function in practice.

**Example: Calculating KL Divergence in Python**

Suppose we have the following two probability distributions in Python:

**Note**: It’s important that the probabilities for each distribution sum to one.

#define two probability distributions P = [.05, .1, .2, .05, .15, .25, .08, .12] Q = [.3, .1, .2, .1, .1, .02, .08, .1]

We can use the following code to calculate the KL divergence between the two distributions:

from scipy.special import rel_entr #calculate (P || Q) sum(rel_entr(P, Q)) 0.589885181619163

The KL divergence of distribution P from distribution Q is about **0.589**.

Note that the units used in this calculation are known as nats, which is short for *natural unit of information*.

Thus, we would say that the KL divergence is **0.589 nats**.

Also note that the KL divergence is not a symmetric metric. This means that if we calculate the KL divergence of distribution Q from distribution P, we will likely get a different value:

from scipy.special import rel_entr #calculate (Q || P) sum(rel_entr(Q, P)) 0.497549319448034

The KL divergence of distribution Q from distribution P is about **0.497 nats**.

**Note**: Some formulas use log base-2 to calculate the KL divergence. In this case, we refer to the divergence in terms of bits instead of nats.

**Additional Resources**

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Python:

How to Create a Correlation Matrix in Python

How to Create a Covariance Matrix in Python