BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function 101: Syntax, Usage & Examples Simplified

• January 19th, 2022

Entering the world of data and deciding which tool to use to solve a given problem can be difficult at times, especially when you have a plethora of options. In this age of Data Transformation, where organizations are constantly looking for ways to improve the day-to-day handling of data produced and methods to reduce the cost of having these operations, it has become critical to handle such data transformations in the Cloud as it is much easier to manage and also cost-efficient.

As a result, companies are increasingly moving to align with such Cloud-based offerings because it provides them with a lower upfront cost, improves scalability, and performance over Traditional On-premise Data Warehousing systems.

This article will teach you about Google BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function. You will also gain a comprehensive understanding of Google BigQuery, its key features, Date & Time functions, and BigQuery Date Data Types. Continue reading to learn more about BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function!

Table of Contents

What is Google BigQuery?

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Google BigQuery is a Cloud-based Data Warehouse that offers a Big Data Analytic Web Service that can process petabytes of data. It is designed for Large-scale Data Analysis. It is divided into two parts: Storage and Query processing. It uses the Dremel Query Engine to process queries and stores them on the Colossus File System. These two components are decoupled and can be scaled separately and on-demand.

Google Cloud Service providers fully manage Google BigQuery. We don’t need to deploy any resources like CDs or Virtual Machines. It is intended to handle read-only data.

Columnar Storage is used by Dremel and Google BigQuery for quick data scanning, as well as a Tree Architecture for executing ANSI SQL Queries and aggregating results across massive Compute Clusters.

There are various Business Intelligence tools that can be integrated with Google BigQuery to provide Standard SQL Access. Google BigQuery, which uses Distributed Computing Technology within a Serverless Architecture, can quickly process massive amounts of data by using multiple parallel servers to significantly increase processing speed.

Key Features of Google BigQuery

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Now that you understand what Google BigQuery is, let’s look at some of its features.

  • Provides Access to Serverless Insight: Google BigQuery’s Serverless Architecture automates analytics scaling and easily highlights some of the most important insights.
  • Real-time Analytics: The tool supports a High-speed Streaming insertion API, which aids in providing quick Real-time Analytics and assisting businesses in understanding the data.
  • Data Transfer Services: Users can easily transfer data from any external source, such as Google Ads, Teradata, YouTube, Google Marketing Platform, Amazon S3, and others.
  • Storage Computes Separation: Using Google BigQuery, one can separate their storage. You can design a Data Processing System based on your company’s needs and goals.
  • Data Ingestion Formats: Google BigQuery allows users to load data in a variety of formats, including AVRO, CSV, JSON, and others.
  • Built-in AI & ML: It supports Predictive Analysis with its Auto ML tables feature, a codeless interface that aids in the development of models with the highest accuracy in class. Another feature is that it supports algorithms such as K means, Logistic Regression, and so on.

What are Google BigQuery Date & Time Data Types?

The following data types are available in Google BigQuery for Time and Date:

  • Date Type: It represents a calendar date, regardless of time zone. The following details are included: Date, Year, and Month: YYYY-MM-DD-YYYY-MM-DD-YYYY-MM (e.g. 2021-05-15).
  • Time Type: It displays time in the same way that a digital watch does; it is not date-dependent. The format is as follows: HH:MM: SS (e.g. 16:45:14)
  • Datetime: A type of data that includes both the calendar date and the time. It is not aware of time zones. The format is as follows: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM: SS (e.g. 2021-05-15 16:45:23). You can also read our article about Datetime_Diff.
  • Timestamps: These contain information such as the date, time, and time zone. If no time zone is specified, the format defaults to UTC. The format is as follows: YYYY-MM-DD [Timezone]. HH:MM:SS (e.g. 2021-05-15 16:45:18 UTC).

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  • Connectors: Hevo supports 100+ integrations to SaaS platforms, files, Databases, analytics, and BI tools. It supports various destinations including Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Snowflake Data Warehouses; Amazon S3 Data Lakes; MySQL, SQL Server, TokuDB, DynamoDB, PostgreSQL Databases to name a few.  
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Timestamp Functions Supported by Google BigQuery

Google BigQuery supports four groups of Date and Time functions: DATE, TIME, DATETIME, and TIMESTAMP. These groups include more specific functions like CURRENT DATETIME, DATE SUB, EXTRACT, FORMAT TIME, and so on.

These functions allow Google BigQuery users to manipulate date and time data types. They can, for example, retrieve a portion of a date or time expression, add an interval to a date or time, and so on.

TIMESTAMP(string_expression[, timezone])
TIMESTAMP(date_expression[, timezone])
TIMESTAMP(datetime_expression[, timezone])
  • string expression[, timezone]: Converts a STRING expression to the data type TIMESTAMP.
  • date expression[, timezone]: Converts a DATE Object to a TIMESTAMP Data Type.
  • datetime expression[, timezone]: Converts a DATETIME object to a TIMESTAMP Data Type.

Example Query:

SELECT TIMESTAMP("2008-12-25 15:30:00+00") AS timestamp_str;

-- Display of results may differ, depending upon the environment and time zone where this query was executed.
| timestamp_str           |
| 2008-12-25 15:30:00 UTC |

To learn more about Timestamp Functions, you can visit here! for more information

How to use the Google BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function?

Syntax of the BigQuery Timestamp_Diff function

TIMESTAMP_DIFF(timestamp_expression, timestamp_expression, date_part)

The whole number specified by the date_part intervals between two timestamps objects i.e Timestamp a – Timestamp b is returned. The later date is represented by the first timestamp_expression; If the first timestamp_expression is earlier than the second timestamp_expression, the output is negative.

If the computation overflows the result type, such as if the difference in nanoseconds between the Two Timestamps would exceed an INT64 Value, Google BigQuery will throw an error.

For the date_part, the Google BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function accepts the following values:

  • HOUR
  • DAY

Example Queries for Google BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function

Example 1

  TIMESTAMP "2010-07-07 10:20:00 UTC" as later_timestamp,
  TIMESTAMP "2008-12-25 15:30:00 UTC" as earlier_timestamp,
  TIMESTAMP_DIFF(TIMESTAMP "2010-07-07 10:20:00 UTC",
    TIMESTAMP "2008-12-25 15:30:00 UTC", HOUR) AS hours;

| later_timestamp        | earlier_timestamp      | hours |
| 2010-07-07 10:20:00+00 | 2008-12-25 15:30:00+00 | 13410 |
In the following example, the first timestamp occurs before the second timestamp, resulting in a negative output.


| negative_diff |
| -61           |

Example 2

BigQuery Timestamp_Diff - BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Example
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You’ve learned about Google BigQuery, its key features, and Timestamps in this article. This article also covered the different types of Date & Type functions, as well as how to use the Google BigQuery Timestamp_Diff Function.

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