Re: [Rd] Date vs date

From: Prof Brian Ripley <>
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 08:01:12 +0100 (BST)

On Fri, 14 Sep 2007, hadley wickham wrote:

>>>   3. temp <- as.Date('1990/1/1') -'1953/2/5')
>>>      sqrt(temp)
>>>      Error in Math.difftime(temp3) : sqrtnot defined for "difftime" objects
>>>   Minor bug: no space before the word 'not'
>>>   Major: this shouldn't fail.

>> Arguably, it should (Is this a difftime object? Which units?).
>> I'd advise against numeric operation on difftime objects in general,
>> because of the unspecified units. These are always "days" when working
>> with Date objects, but with general time objects it is not predictable.
>> So I'd recommend sqrt(as.numeric(temp, units="days")).

It fails by design. Using sqrt() on a measurement that has an arbitrary origin would not have been good design.

> Why not just always use seconds for difftime objects?  An attribute
> could control how it was formatted, but would be independent of the
> underlying representation.

Because of leapseconds and changes to/from DST (which require knowing the timezone and its transition times).

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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