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PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 1 - SQL Language Reference
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 716 pages
ISBN 0954612027
RRP £32.00 ($49.95)

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7.9.4 Current Date/Time

PostgreSQL provides a number of functions that return values related to the current date and time. These SQL-standard functions all return values based on the start time of the current transaction:

CURRENT_DATE
CURRENT_TIME
CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
CURRENT_TIME(precision)
CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(precision)
LOCALTIME
LOCALTIMESTAMP
LOCALTIME(precision)
LOCALTIMESTAMP(precision)

CURRENT_TIME and CURRENT_TIMESTAMP deliver values with time zone; LOCALTIME and LOCALTIMESTAMP deliver values without time zone.

CURRENT_TIME, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, LOCALTIME, and LOCALTIMESTAMP can optionally be given a precision parameter, which causes the result to be rounded to that many fractional digits in the seconds field. Without a precision parameter, the result is given to the full available precision.

Some examples:

SELECT CURRENT_TIME;
Result: 14:39:53.662522-05

SELECT CURRENT_DATE;
Result: 2001-12-23

SELECT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP;
Result: 2001-12-23 14:39:53.662522-05

SELECT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(2);
Result: 2001-12-23 14:39:53.66-05

SELECT LOCALTIMESTAMP;
Result: 2001-12-23 14:39:53.662522

Since these functions return the start time of the current transaction, their values do not change during the transaction. This is considered a feature: the intent is to allow a single transaction to have a consistent notion of the “current” time, so that multiple modifications within the same transaction bear the same time stamp.

Note: Other database systems may advance these values more frequently.

PostgreSQL also provides functions that return the start time of the current statement, as well as the actual current time at the instant the function is called. The complete list of non-SQL-standard time functions is:

now()
transaction_timestamp()
statement_timestamp()
clock_timestamp()
timeofday()

now() is a traditional PostgreSQL equivalent to CURRENT_TIMESTAMP. transaction_timestamp() is likewise equivalent to CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, but is named to clearly reflect what it returns. statement_timestamp() returns the start time of the current statement (more specifically, the time of receipt of the latest command message from the client). statement_timestamp() and transaction_timestamp() return the same value during the first command of a transaction, but may differ during subsequent commands. clock_timestamp() returns the actual current time, and therefore its value changes even within a single SQL command. timeofday() is a historical PostgreSQL function. Like clock_timestamp(), it returns the actual current time, but as a formatted text string rather than a timestamp with time zone value.

All the date/time data types also accept the special literal value now to specify the current date and time (again, interpreted as the transaction start time). Thus, the following three all return the same result:

SELECT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP;
SELECT now();
SELECT TIMESTAMP 'now';  -- incorrect for use with DEFAULT

Tip: You do not want to use the third form when specifying a DEFAULT clause while creating a table. The system will convert now to a timestamp as soon as the constant is parsed, so that when the default value is needed, the time of the table creation would be used! The first two forms will not be evaluated until the default value is used, because they are function calls. Thus they will give the desired behavior of defaulting to the time of row insertion.

ISBN 0954612027PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 1 - SQL Language ReferenceSee the print edition