Does ANSI Recognize the Data Type Date?


Scott Campbell

Does ANSI Recognize the Data Type Date?

When it comes to working with data in programming, one of the most common data types is the date. Dates are essential for applications that require keeping track of time-based events or performing operations based on specific dates.

What is ANSI?

ANSI, or the American National Standards Institute, is a non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for various industries in the United States. These standards aim to ensure interoperability, safety, and quality across different products and services.

The ANSI SQL Standard

The ANSI SQL (Structured Query Language) standard defines a set of rules and guidelines for working with relational databases. It provides a common syntax and semantics that enable developers to write SQL queries that work across different database management systems (DBMS).

Date Data Type in ANSI SQL

While ANSI SQL includes various data types such as integer, string, and boolean, it does not have a specific date data type. This absence of a standardized date data type may seem surprising considering how frequently dates are used in applications.

The Workaround: Using Other Data Types for Dates

To work around this limitation, developers typically use other data types to represent dates in their databases. The most common approach is to use either character strings or numeric values.

Date Representation as Character Strings

  • In YYYY-MM-DD format: One way to represent dates as character strings is by using the ISO 8601 standard format, which specifies the year (YYYY), month (MM), and day (DD) separated by hyphens. For example, “2022-07-15” represents July 15, 2022.
  • In MM/DD/YYYY format: Another widely used format in the United States is where the month (MM), day (DD), and year (YYYY) are separated by slashes. For instance, “07/15/2022” represents the same date as before.

Date Representation as Numeric Values

As an alternative to using character strings, dates can also be represented as numeric values. For example:

  • Unix Timestamp: A Unix timestamp is a numeric value that represents the number of seconds that have elapsed since January 1, 1970. This approach allows for easy calculations and comparisons but may require additional functions to convert between Unix timestamps and human-readable dates.
  • JULIAN Format: The JULIAN format represents dates as a count of days since November 24, 4714 BCE. Although this format is less common nowadays, it may still be encountered in legacy systems.

The Importance of Consistency

While ANSI SQL does not provide a built-in date data type, it is crucial to maintain consistency when working with dates in your applications. Regardless of the chosen representation method, it is essential to ensure that all date-related operations are performed consistently throughout your codebase.

Date Functions and Operations

To perform date-related operations in ANSI SQL, you can use various built-in functions provided by your DBMS. These functions allow you to manipulate dates, extract specific components (e.g., year or month), perform arithmetic calculations with dates, and more.


In summary, ANSI SQL does not include a specific data type for dates. Developers typically use character strings or numeric values to represent dates in their databases. While this may require additional handling and conversions, it is essential to maintain consistency and use appropriate date functions provided by your DBMS.

By understanding these workarounds and leveraging the available resources, you can effectively handle dates in your ANSI SQL-based applications.

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