What Is a Datetime64 Data Type?


Angela Bailey

The Datetime64 data type is a powerful feature in Python for handling dates and times. It provides a way to represent dates and times with high precision and flexibility. In this article, we will explore what the Datetime64 data type is, how it works, and why it is useful.

What is Datetime64?

The Datetime64 data type is a NumPy data type that represents dates and times as 64-bit integers. It allows us to perform various operations on dates and times, such as arithmetic calculations, comparisons, and formatting.

Why use Datetime64?

The Datetime64 data type has several advantages over other date and time representations:

  • Precision: The Datetime64 data type provides high precision, allowing us to represent dates and times with nanosecond-level accuracy. This level of precision is particularly useful in scientific computing or when dealing with time-sensitive applications.
  • Efficiency: The memory-efficient storage of the Datetime64 data type makes it convenient for large datasets or when working with time series data.
  • Flexibility: With the Datetime64 data type, we can easily manipulate dates and times by performing arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, or finding time differences.

Date and Time Units

In Python’s Datetime64, we can work with different units of time:

  • Nanoseconds (ns): The smallest unit of time that can be represented by Datetime64.
  • Microseconds (us): 1 microsecond is equal to 1000 nanoseconds.
  • Milliseconds (ms): 1 millisecond is equal to 1000 microseconds.
  • Seconds (s): 1 second is equal to 1000 milliseconds.
  • Minutes (m): 1 minute is equal to 60 seconds.
  • Hours (h): 1 hour is equal to 60 minutes.
  • Days (D): A single day.

Create a Datetime64 Object

To create a Datetime64 object, we can use the numpy.datetime64() function. We need to specify the date and time along with the desired unit of time. Here’s an example:

import numpy as np

# Create a Datetime64 object
dt = np.datetime64('2022-01-01T12:00')

# Output: 2022-01-01T12:00

In the above example, we created a Datetime64 object representing January 1, 2022, at noon. The output shows the formatted representation of the date and time.

Date and Time Arithmetic

We can perform arithmetic operations on Datetime64 objects. Let’s see some examples:

# Create Datetime64 objects
dt1 = np.datetime64(‘2022-01-01’)
dt2 = np.datetime64(‘2022-01-05’)

# Calculate the difference in days
diff = dt2 – dt1

# Output: 4 days

In the above example, we calculated the difference between two Datetime64 objects, resulting in a Timedelta object representing 4 days.

Date and Time Formatting

We can format a Datetime64 object using the numpy.datetime_as_string() function. Here’s an example:

# Format the Datetime64 object
formatted_dt = np.datetime_as_string(dt, unit=’s’)

# Output: 2022-01-01T12:00:00

In the above example, we formatted the Datetime64 object to display the date and time in seconds.


The Datetime64 data type in Python provides a powerful way to handle dates and times with high precision and flexibility. Its ability to perform arithmetic calculations, comparisons, and formatting makes it an essential tool for various applications such as scientific computing, data analysis, and time series analysis.

We explored what the Datetime64 data type is, its advantages over other date and time representations, different units of time available in Datetime64, how to create Datetime64 objects, perform arithmetic operations, and format them according to our needs. Now you have a good understanding of the Datetime64 data type and its functionalities.

Start using Datetime64 in your Python projects to handle dates and times more effectively!

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