[tz] Fractional seconds in zic input

Howard Hinnant howard.hinnant at gmail.com
Mon Feb 5 18:46:01 UTC 2018

On Feb 5, 2018, at 1:38 PM, Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> wrote:
> On 02/05/2018 10:21 AM, Howard Hinnant wrote:
>> On Feb 5, 2018, at 1:01 PM, Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> wrote:  >> >> In that case, how about if we follow POSIX's lead and specify
> nanosecond resolution as the highest the format supports? Although that's likely overkill, it does match a widely used standard; and better overkill than underkill. > > On Feb 4, 2018, at 7:21 PM, Howard Hinnant <howard.hinnant at gmail.com> wrote: >> >> In choosing a finest supported precision, I would encourage the choice of something coarser than nanoseconds.
> Suppose an old UT offset uses sexagesimal notation, or something derived from it? In that case, the exact offset might not be representable as a decimal number, and the nanoseconds resolution will provide a comfortable excess of precision. Sexagesimal is not entirely hypothetical, as we have good evidence that civil time in Vietnam from 1906 to 1911 was 104° 17′ 17″ east of Paris.
> I guess I'm not seeing the harm to go with nanoseconds in the data format; if a downstream user wants less precision they can easily round. And following Steve Allen's lead, we can mention in the documentation that there's no practical use of sub-millisecond precision in these old timestamps.

If two clients (different platforms) want to maintain the invariant that equal time_points remain equal after mapping, then they must operate at the precision of the mapping (or finer).  I can not understate the importance of maintaining this invariant, not just for a single application, but for disparate applications built in different programming languages, using different tzdb compilers and running on different computers.

A downstream user can not choose less precision than the IANA mapping, and maintain this invariant.


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