Date-time classes (POSIXct and POSIXlt)

Introduction

R includes two date-time classes -- POSIXct and POSIXlt -- see ?DateTimeClasses.

Remarks

Pitfalls

With POSIXct, midnight will display only the date and time zone, though the full time is still stored.

Specialized packages

  • lubridate

Date-time arithmetic

To add/subtract time, use POSIXct, since it stores times in seconds

## adding/subtracting times - 60 seconds
as.POSIXct("2016-01-01") + 60
# [1] "2016-01-01 00:01:00 AEDT"

## adding 3 hours, 14 minutes, 15 seconds
as.POSIXct("2016-01-01") + ( (3 * 60 * 60) + (14 * 60) + 15)
# [1] "2016-01-01 03:14:15 AEDT"

More formally, as.difftime can be used to specify time periods to add to a date or datetime object. E.g.:

as.POSIXct("2016-01-01")         + 
  as.difftime(3,  units="hours") +
  as.difftime(14, units="mins")  +
  as.difftime(15, units="secs")
# [1] "2016-01-01 03:14:15 AEDT"

To find the difference between dates/times use difftime() for differences in seconds, minutes, hours, days or weeks.

# using POSIXct objects
difftime(
  as.POSIXct("2016-01-01 12:00:00"), 
  as.POSIXct("2016-01-01 11:59:59"), 
  unit = "secs")
# Time difference of 1 secs

To generate sequences of date-times use seq.POSIXt() or simply seq.

Formatting and printing date-time objects

# test date-time object
options(digits.secs = 3)
d = as.POSIXct("2016-08-30 14:18:30.58", tz = "UTC")   

format(d,"%S")  # 00-61 Second as integer
## [1] "30"

format(d,"%OS") # 00-60.99… Second as fractional
## [1] "30.579"

format(d,"%M")  # 00-59 Minute
## [1] "18"

format(d,"%H")  # 00-23 Hours
## [1] "14"

format(d,"%I")  # 01-12 Hours
## [1] "02"

format(d,"%p")  # AM/PM Indicator
## [1] "PM"

format(d,"%z")  # Signed offset
## [1] "+0000"

format(d,"%Z")  # Time Zone Abbreviation
## [1] "UTC"

See ?strptime for details on the format strings here, as well as other formats.

Parsing strings into date-time objects

The functions for parsing a string into POSIXct and POSIXlt take similar parameters and return a similar-looking result, but there are differences in how that date-time is stored; see "Remarks."

as.POSIXct("11:38",                        # time string
           format = "%H:%M")               # formatting string
## [1] "2016-07-21 11:38:00 CDT"           
strptime("11:38",                          # identical, but makes a POSIXlt object
         format = "%H:%M")
## [1] "2016-07-21 11:38:00 CDT"

as.POSIXct("11 AM",                   
           format = "%I %p")        
## [1] "2016-07-21 11:00:00 CDT"

Note that date and timezone are imputed.

as.POSIXct("11:38:22",                 # time string without timezone
           format = "%H:%M:%S",   
           tz = "America/New_York")    # set time zone
## [1] "2016-07-21 11:38:22 EDT"

as.POSIXct("2016-07-21 00:00:00",
           format = "%F %T")           # shortcut tokens for "%Y-%m-%d" and "%H:%M:%S"

See ?strptime for details on the format strings here.


Notes

Missing elements

  • If a date element is not supplied, then that from the current date is used.
  • If a time element is not supplied, then that from midnight is used, i.e. 0s.
  • If no timezone is supplied in either the string or the tz parameter, the local timezone is used.

Time zones



2017-02-08
2017-02-08
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