gawk – Date and time calculation functions


gawk – Date and time calculation functions

has 3 functions to calculate date and time:

  • systime
  • strftime
  • mktime

Let us see in this article how to use these functions:



This function is equivalent to the Unix date (date +%s) command. It gives the
Unix time
, total number of seconds elapsed since the epoch(01-01-1970 00:00:00).

$ echo | awk '{print systime();}'

Note: systime function does not take any arguments.



A very common function used in gawk to format the systime into a calendar format. Using this function, from the systime, the year, month, date, hours, mins and seconds can be separated.


strftime (,unix time)

1. Printing current date time using strftime

$ echo | awk '{print strftime("%d-%m-%y %H-%M-%S",systime());}'
14-01-13 12-37-45

strftime takes format specifiers which are same as the format specifiers available with the date command. %d for date, %m for month number (1 to 12), %y for the 2 digit year number, %H for the hour in 24 hour format, %M for minutes and %S for seconds. In this way, strftime converts Unix time into a
date string

2. Display current date time using strftime without systime

$ echo | awk '{print strftime("%d-%m-%y %H-%M-%S");}'
14-01-13 12-38-08

Both the arguments of strftime are optional. When the timestamp is not provided, it takes the systime by default.

3. strftime with no arguments

$ echo | awk '{print strftime();}'
Mon Jan 14 12:30:05 IST 2013

strftime without the format specifiers provides the output in the default output format as the Unix date command.



mktime function converts any given date time string into a Unix time, which is of the systime format.


mktime(date time string)
# where date time string is a string which contains atleast 6 components in the following order: YYYY MM DD HH MM SS

1. Printing timestamp for a specific date time

$ echo | awk '{print mktime("2012 12 21 0 0 0");}'

This gives the Unix time for the date 21-Dec-12.

2. Using strftime with mktime

$ echo | awk '{print strftime("%d-%m-%Y",mktime("2012 12 21 0 0 0"));}'

The output of mktime can be validated by formatting the mktime output using the strftime function as above.

3. Negative date in mktime

$ echo | awk '{print strftime("%d-%m-%Y",mktime("2012 12 -1 0 0 0"));}'

mktime can take negative values as well. -1 in the date position indicates one day before the date specified which in this case leads to 29th Nov 2012.

4. Negative hour value in mktime

$ echo | awk '{print strftime("%d-%m-%Y %H-%M-%S",mktime("2012 12 3 -2 0 0"));}'
02-12-2012 22-00-00

-2 in the hours position indicates 2 hours before the specified date time which in this case leads to “2-Dec-2012 22” hours.



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gawk – Date and time calculation functions