Working with Elapsed Time

Use of elapsed time

Sometimes you may find it easier to formulate your model in terms of (continuous) elapsed time with respect to some reference date rather than in terms of discrete time periods. For example, for a task in a schedule it is often more natural to store just the start and end time rather than to specify all of the time slots in a calendar during which the task will be executed. In addition, working with elapsed time allows you to store time references to any desired accuracy.

Input-output conversion

For data entry or for the generation of reports, however, elapsed time may not be your preferred format. In this event AIMMS offers a number of functions for the conversion of elapsed time to calendar strings (or set elements) and vice versa, using the conversion specifiers described in Format of Time Slots and Periods.

Conversion to calendar elements

The following functions allow conversion between elapsed time and time slots in an existing calendar. Their syntax is

The reference-date argument must be a time slot in the specified calendar. The elapsed-time argument is the elapsed time from the reference-date measured in terms of the calendar’s unit. The result of the function MomentToTimeSlot is the time slot containing the moment represented by the reference date plus the elapsed time. The result of the function TimeSlotToMoment is the elapsed time from the reference date to the value of the time-slot argument (measured in the calendar’s unit).

Conversion to calendar strings

The following functions enable conversion between elapsed time and free format strings. Their syntax is

The reference-date argument must be provided in the fixed format for reference dates, as described in Calendars. The moment-string argument must be a period in the format given by format-string. The elapsed-time argument is the elapsed time in unit with respect to the reference-date argument. The result of the function MomentToString is a description of the corresponding moment according to format-string. Strictly spoken, the unit argument in MomentToString is only required when the option elapsed_time_is_unitless (see below) is set to on, and, consequently, elapsed-time is unitless. In the case that elapsed_time_is_unitless is set to off (the default), you are advised to set the unit argument equal to the associated unit of the elapsed-time argument. The result of the function StringToMoment is the elapsed time in unit between reference-date and moment-string.


moment := MomentToString("%c%y-%Am|AllAbbrMonths|-%d (%sAw|AllWeekdays|) %H:%M",
                         [hour], "1996-01-01 14:00", 2.2 [hour] );
          ! result : "1996-Jan-01 (Monday) 16:12"

elapsed := StringToMoment("%c%y-%Am|AllAbbrMonths|-%d (%sAw|AllWeekdays|) %H:%M",
                          [hour], "1996-01-01 14:00", "1996-Jan-01 (Monday) 16:12" );
          ! result : 2.2 [hour]

Obtaining the current time

The function CurrentToMoment can be used to obtain the elapsed time since reference-date in the specified unit of the current time. Its syntax is

Unitless result

By default, the result of the functions TimeSlotToMoment, StringToMoment and CurrentToMoment will have an associated unit, namely the unit specified in the unit argument. In addition, AIMMS expects the elapsed-time argument in the function MomentToTimeSlot and MomentToString to be of the same unit as its associated unit argument. If you want the result or arguments of these functions to be unitless, you can accomplish this by setting the compile time option elapsed_time_is_unitless to on. Note, however, that any change to this option affects all calls to these function throughout your model.