[Numpy-discussion] fixing up datetime

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Thu Jun 2 13:07:33 CDT 2011

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 10:57 AM, Christopher Barker

> Mark Wiebe wrote:
> > I'm following what I understand the NEP to mean for combining dates and
> > deltas of different units. This means for timedeltas, the metadata
> > becomes more precise, in particular it becomes the GCD of the input
> > metadata, and between timedelta and datetime the datetime always
> dominates.
> >
> >
> https://github.com/numpy/numpy/blob/master/doc/neps/datetime-proposal.rst
> Thanks for posting this link -- a few comments on that doc follow.
> > Only Years, Months, and Business Days have a nonlinear relationship with
> > the other units, so they're the only problem case for this. They can be
> > arbitrarily special-cased based on what is decided to make the most
> sense.
> As mentioned on my recent post -- this stuff should be handles by some
> sort of "calendar" classes -- there is no one way to do that! So numpy
> should provide datetime and timedelta data types that can be used, but a
> timedelta should _not_ ever be defined by these weird variable units.
> I guess what I'm getting is that:
> a_date_time + a_timedelta
> is a fundamentally different operation than:
> a_date_time + a_calendar_defined_timespan
> The former can follow all the usual math properties for addition, but
> the later doesn't.
> About the NEP:
> """
> A representation is also supported such that the stored date-time
> integer can encode both the number of a particular unit as well as a
> number of sequential events tracked for each unit.
> """
> I'm not sure I understand what this really means, but I _think_ I agree
> with Pierre that this is unnecessary complication - couldn't it be
> handled by multiple arrays, or maybe a structured dtype?
> """
> The datetime64 represents an absolute time. Internally it is represented
> as the number of time units between the intended time and the epoch
> (12:00am on January 1, 1970 --- POSIX time including its lack of leap
> seconds).
> """
> The CF netcdf metadata standard provides for times to be specified as
> "units since a_date_time". units can be seconds, hours, days, etc (it
> does allow months and years, but it shouldn't!). This is nice, flexible
> system that makes it easy to capture wildly different scales needed:
> from nanoseconds to millennia. Similarly, we might want to consider a
> datetime dtype as containing a reference datetime, and a tic unit.
> I think the "Time units" section does specify that you can use various
> units, but it looks like the NEP sticks with the single POSIX epoch.
> I see later in the NEP:
> """
> However, after thinking more about this, we found that the combination
> of an absolute datetime64 with a relative timedelta64 does offer the
> same functionality while removing the need for the additional origin
> metadata. This is why we have removed it from this proposal.
> """
> hmmm -- I don't think that's the case -- you need the "origin" if you
> want to represent something like nanoseconds as a datetime, far away
> from the epoch. Sure, you can supply your own by keeping the origin and
> a timedelta array separately, by you could do that for all uses, also,
> and the point of this is to make working with datetimes easy. If we're
> going to allow different units, we might as well have different "origins".

> I also don't think that units like "month", "year", "business day"
> should be allowed -- it just adds confusion. It's not a killer if they
> are defined in the spec:
> 1 year = 365.25 days (for instance0
> 1 month = 1year/12
> But I think it's better to simply disallow them, and keep that use for
> what I'm calling the "Calendar" functions. And "business day" is
> particularly ugly, and, I'm sure defined differently in different places.
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