SQL Resources/BigQuery/TIMESTAMP_DIFF

TIMESTAMP_DIFF

Definition

The TIMESTAMP_DIFF function allows you to find the difference between 2 TIMESTAMPs in the specified date_part interval.

Syntax

TIMESTAMP_DIFF(timestamp_expression_a, timestamp_expression_b, date_part)

Where date_part can be any of the following:

  • MICROSECOND
  • MILLISECOND
  • SECOND
  • MINUTE
  • DAY

Returns: INT64

SELECT
  TIMESTAMP_DIFF(CAST('2021-01-01 14:01:05' AS TIMESTAMP), CAST('2021-01-01 12:22:23' AS TIMESTAMP), MINUTE) AS minutes_difference,
  TIMESTAMP_DIFF(CAST('2021-01-01 01:44:33' AS TIMESTAMP), CAST('2020-12-31 22:04:60' AS TIMESTAMP), MILLISECOND) AS millisecond_difference
minutes_difference
98
millisecond_difference
13173000

Practical Info

  • If the first TIMESTAMP is earlier than the second one then the output will be negative
  • Throws an error if the computation overflows the result type, such as if the difference in microseconds between the two TIMESTAMP objects would overflow an INT64 value.

Common Questions

How to filter for the last n seconds?

A common SQL query WHERE clause is to just pull the data for the last n seconds. In this case, we can make use of TIMESTAMP_DIFF and CURRENT_TIMESTAMP:

SELECT
  date,
  TIMESTAMP_DIFF(CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), date, SECOND) AS seconds_since
FROM
  (
    SELECT
      TIMESTAMP_SUB(CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), INTERVAL 30 SECOND) AS date
    UNION ALL
(    SELECT
      TIMESTAMP_SUB(CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), INTERVAL 90 SECOND) AS date)
    UNION ALL
(    SELECT
      TIMESTAMP_SUB(CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), INTERVAL 10 SECOND) AS date)
  ) AS table_3
WHERE
  (TIMESTAMP_DIFF(CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), date, SECOND) <= 30)
date
2021-05-13T11:50:41.110Z
2021-05-13T11:51:01.110Z
seconds_since
30
10

Troubleshooting Common Errors

Argument 2 of TIMESTAMP_DIFF has incorrect type: expected timestamp found datetime.

This one is all too common. If you're using TIMESTAMP, you'll need to make sure both of your TIMESTAMPs are indeed TIMESTAMP data types, and not DATEs or DATETIMEs. It's usually easy enough to add a CAST(datetime_col as TIMESTAMP) to your function:

TIMESTAMP_DIFF(CAST('2020-01-01 03:22:01' as TIMESTAMP),'2021-01-05 03:04:00', DAY) days_diff

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