[Datetime-SIG] PEP-0500 (Alternative datetime arithmetic) Was: PEP 495 ... is ready ...

Alexander Belopolsky alexander.belopolsky at gmail.com
Wed Aug 19 00:22:56 CEST 2015

[Alexander Belopolsky]

> However, I don't see this additional freedom as a big complication.
>> Even in the common case, it may be easier to implement d(x, y) than to
>> figure out f(x).  The problem with f(x) is that it is the UTC offset
>> as a function of local time while most TZ database interfaces only
>> provide UTC offset as a function of UTC time.  As a result, it is
>> often easier to implement d(x, y) (for example, as d(x, y) = g(x) -
>> g(y)) than to implement f(x).
> [Guido van Rossum]

> This  discussion sounds overly abstract. ISTM that d(x, y) in timeline
> arithmetic can be computed as x.timestamp() - y.timestamp(), (and
> converting to a timedelta).

It can be, but currently, x.timestamp() is implemented as (t -
datetime(1970, 1, 1, tzinfo=timezone.utc)).total_seconds(), so you end up
defining datetime subtraction in terms of datetime subtraction.

Let's consider a specific example.  Suppose I want to implement a very
simple timezone like US/Eastern, where I have some simple rules (with a few
historical variations) that given year, month, day, hour and the "first"
flag will tell me whether DST is in effect.   For such timezone, I can
easily write a function in C like this:

long long hours_between(int year1, int month1, int day1, int hour1, int
                        int year2, int month2, int day2, int hour2, int
  return 24 * (jd(year2, month2, day2) - jd(year1, month1, day1)) +
         hour2 - dst(year2, month2, day2, hour2, first2) -
         hour1 + dst(year1, month1, day1, hour1, first1);

where jd and dst are the Julian day and DST functions, each taking under 30
machine cycles to execute.  With PEP 500 approach, you have a couple of
attribute accesses and unpacking of two datetime buffers between t1 - t2 in
Python and  the hours_between function, and then you are a few operations
with seconds and microseconds and one new_delta call away from the result.

[Guido van Rossum]

> Similar for adding a datetime and a timedelta. Optimizing this should be
> IMO the only question is how should a datetime object choose between
> classic arithmetic[1] and timeline arithmetic. My proposal here is to make
> that a boolean property of the tzinfo object -- we could either use a
> marker subclass or an attribute whose absence implies classic arithmetic.

With this proposal, we will need something like this:

def __sub__(self, other):
    if self.tzinfo is not None and self.tzinfo.strict:
        self_offset = self.utcoffset()
        other_offset = other.utcoffset()
        naive_self = self.replace(tzinfo=None)
        naive_other = other.replace(tzinfo=None)
        return naive_self - self_offset - naive_other + other_offset
    # old logic

So we need to create six intermediate Python objects just to do the math.
On top of that, we need the utcoffset() method which is a pain to write in
C, so we will wrap our optimized dst() function and compute utcoffset() as
dst(t) + timedelta(hours=-5), creating four more intermediate Python
objects.  At the end of the day, I will not be surprised if aware datetime
subtraction is 10x slower than naive and every Python textbook recommends
to avoid doing arithmetic with aware datetime objects.
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