[Python-ideas] datetime: Support infinity

Antoine Pitrou solipsis at pitrou.net
Mon Jan 26 13:09:08 CET 2015

On Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:44:40 +1100
Steven D'Aprano <steve at pearwood.info> wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 10:14:23AM +0100, Antoine Pitrou wrote:
> > On Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:24:07 +0100
> > Thomas Güttler <guettliml at thomas-guettler.de> wrote:
> > > PostgreSQL can store the representation of an “infinite” date, timestamp, or interval. Infinite dates are not available 
> > > to Python, so these objects are mapped to date.max, datetime.max, interval.max. Unfortunately the mapping cannot be 
> > > bidirectional so these dates will be stored back into the database with their values, such as 9999-12-31.
> > Unless someone has a real-world use for the values of date.max,
> > datetime.max, interval.max, I find it rather counter-productive to not
> > store them back as infinities.
> That would make them de-facto infinities that weirdly don't look like 
> infinities:

That would only make them infinities in PostgreSQL. That sounds like a
reasonable compromise for a probably little-used feature, and uncommon

> > Adding infinities to the datetime module would probably be possible but
> > someone has to figure out the arithmetic rules. Do we need "not a time"
> > when adding infinity to -infinity?
> I shouldn't think so. The purpose of NANs in IEEE-754 maths is to allow 
> the programmer to delay dealing with the failed operation until the end 
> of the calculation. I don't think that date calculations tend to be 
> anywhere as complicated as mathematical ones, so it would be acceptable 
> to just raise an exception.

Note Numpy datetimes and timedeltas do have a concept of "NotATime".
But, yes, it's an unexpected feature.



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