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Pack julian -- docs/sets.md

layout: default title: Tutorial - Time Sets ---

More Than 1 Nanosecond

Not all times we care about represent a single nanosecond. For example, we speak of "today" and "the year 1973", each of which represents many nanoseconds. Julian can represent those too:

?- form_time(today, T).
T = datetime(56576, _G522),
_G522 in 0..86399999999999.

Again, this is Julian's internal representation. The modified Julian day is known precisely (56576) but the nanosecond portion is not (`_G522 in 0..86399999999999`). The in/2 constraint says that we care about all times between midnight and the very last nanosecond of the day.

For our current purposes, think of the constraint as describing a set of all nanoseconds we care about. Maybe we only care about nanoseconds that have passed since today's midnight:

?- form_time([today, before(now)], T).
_G464 in 0..70983007080191,

(I trimmed off some other constraints for the sake of clarity) The nanosecond portion of T (_G464) is constrained to only some of today's nanoseconds. The form before(T) matches all nanoseconds prior to time T.

The "year 1973" could be described with the form 1973-_-_.

Disjoint Sets

In the above examples, all the selected nanoseconds are contiguous. We often care about times for which that's not the case. For example, all Sundays in history:

?- form_time(dow(sunday), T).
T = datetime(_G924, _G925),
_G934 mod 7#=6.

The internals just say that Sundays are those modified Julian days with a specific value `mod 7`. This constraint has selected little chunks of the infinite timeline representing those nanoseconds which fall on a Sunday. For example, "what dates are Sunday in October 2013?"

?- form_time([dow(sunday), 2013-10-D], _T), date(_T).
D = 6 ;
D = 13 ;
D = 20 ;
D = 27 .

date/1 unifies its argument with each unique day that matches the constraints, from earliest to most recent. date/1 and its friend findall_dates/2 are especially helpful when we care about time at day resolution instead of nanosecond resolution.

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