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now and mz_logical_timestamp functions

In Materialize, now() doesn’t represent the system time, as it does in most systems; it represents the time with timezone when the query was executed. It cannot be used when creating views.

mz_logical_timestamp() comes closer to what now() typically indicates. It represents the logical time at which a query executes. Its typical uses are:

Internal debugging

mz_logical_timestamp() can be useful if you need to understand the time up to which data has been ingested by materialized. It corresponds to the timestamp column of TAIL. Generally a CREATE SOURCE command will cause Materialize to ingest data and produce timestamps that correspond to milliseconds since the Unix epoch.

Temporal filters

You can use mz_logical_timestamp() to define temporal filters for materialized view, which implement various windowing idioms.

For more information, see Temporal Filters.

Restrictions

You can only use mz_logical_timestamp() to establish a temporal filter in one of the following types of clauses:

Example

Temporal filter using mz_logical_timestamp()

For this example, you’ll need to create a sample data source and create a materialized view from it for later reference.

--Create a table of timestamped events.
CREATE TABLE events (
    content text,
    insert_ms numeric,
    delete_ms numeric
);

--Create a materialized view of events valid at a given logical time.
CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW valid AS
SELECT content, insert_ms, delete_ms
FROM events
WHERE mz_logical_timestamp() >= insert_ms
  AND mz_logical_timestamp() < delete_ms;

Next, you’ll populate the table with timestamp data. The epoch extracted from now() is measured in seconds, so it’s multiplied by 1000 to match the milliseconds in mz_logical_timestamp().

INSERT INTO events VALUES (
    'hello',
    extract(epoch from now()) * 1000,
    (extract(epoch from now()) * 1000) + 100000
);
INSERT INTO events VALUES (
    'welcome',
    extract(epoch from now()) * 1000,
    (extract(epoch from now()) * 1000) + 150000
);
INSERT INTO events VALUES (
    'goodbye',
    (extract(epoch from now()) * 1000),
    (extract(epoch from now()) * 1000) + 200000
);

Then, before 100,000 ms (or 1.67 minutes) elapse, run the following query to see all the records:

SELECT *, mz_logical_timestamp() FROM valid;
 content |   insert_ms   |   delete_ms   | mz_logical_timestamp
---------+---------------+---------------+----------------------
 hello   | 1620853325858 | 1620853425858 |        1620853337180
 goodbye | 1620853325862 | 1620853525862 |        1620853337180
 welcome | 1620853325860 | 1620853475860 |        1620853337180
(3 rows)

If you run this query again after 1.67 minutes from the first insertion, you’ll see only two results, because the first result no longer satisfies the predicate.

Query using now()

The epoch extracted from now() is measured in seconds, so it’s multiplied by 1000 to match the milliseconds in mz_logical_timestamp().

SELECT * FROM valid
  WHERE insert_ts <= (extract(epoch from now()) * 1000);
 content |   insert_ts   |   delete_ts
---------+---------------+---------------
 goodbye | 1621279636402 | 1621279836402
 welcome | 1621279636400 | 1621279786400
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