Solved: unix time to datetime

Unix time or POSIX time or Epoch time is a system for tracking time and date in many digital systems such as computers. It is a simple concept, however, converting Unix time to a more human-friendly datetime format can lead to occasional confusion. In this article, we will learn how to make this conversion using Matlab.

UNIX time is a way of tracking time that counts the number of seconds that have passed since the Unix Epoch, which is the time 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970. It disregards leap seconds and can be represented as a single non-negative integer.

When programming, it’s sometimes necessary to convert UNIX time to more manageable and comprehensible datetime formats. This can be done using different programming languages, in this case, we will use Matlab. Matlab is a high-level language and interactive environment that lets you focus on your course work and applications, rather than on low-level administrative tasks.

We shall now go through step-by-step on how to convert Unix time to datetime in Matlab.

Solutions in Matlab

Matlab provides a function called datetime which can handle Unix time. The datetime function typically takes in numbers and converts it into a readable date time format.

unix_time = 1493704831; %This is unix time
datetime(unix_time, 'ConvertFrom', 'posixtime')

The first line of the code sample is Unix time represented in seconds. The datetime function in the second line converts Unix time to a more human-friendly format.

Explanation of the Conversion Code

As previously mentioned, Unix epoch starts on January 1, 1970. This is the point where Unix time starts, and is called ‘posixtime’ in the MATLAB environment.

The datetime function is equipped with a feature to convert such Unix time directly into datetime objects, with the ‘ConvertFrom’ parameter indicating the type of input time format.

Handling Different Time Formats

Matlab is an incredibly flexible programming environment and can deal with numerous different time and date formats. Apart from ‘posixtime’, other standardized time formats include ‘datenum’, and ‘excel’, among others.

  • ‘posixtime’: represents the number of seconds that have passed since 00:00:00 Thursday, 1 January 1970, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), ignoring leap seconds.
  • ‘datenum’: represents points in time using floating-point numeric date values.
  • ‘excel’: represents points in time using dates in the Microsoft Excel® serial date format.

Understanding these different time and date formats in Matlab, and how to convert them into more manageable formats, can greatly enhance the efficiency and clarity of your data analysis processes.

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