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The 2038 bug

Posted on 2008-06-18
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Last Modified: 2010-04-15
My curiosity recently brought me to analyse what is the exact nature of the 2038 date problem.

Well as you all probably know, it comes from the limitation in the C standard library type 'time_t' which is usually defined as a 32 bits signed integer.

The time_t type is defined by the C standard to contain "the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970, 00:00:00". The C documentation says it can contain dates up to January 18, 2038, 19:14:07.

But when I calculate the number of seconds a 32 bits signed integer can contain, I come to the number 2147483647, which is 24855 days, 3 hours, 14 minutes and 7 seconds. Adding this value to January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 gives the following date: January 19, 2038, 03:14:07

So how can you explain the difference between the C documentation date and the calculated date ?
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Question by:stsanz
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4 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:jkr
ID: 21815581
Are you sure you included all leap years correctly in your calculation?
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Expert Comment

by:Infinity08
ID: 21815590
>> The C documentation says it can contain dates up to January 18, 2038, 19:14:07.

What timezone was that documentation for ?
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Accepted Solution

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Infinity08 earned 125 total points
ID: 21815662
>> January 19, 2038, 03:14:07

That's the highest UTC date/time that can be represented by a signed 32bit time_t.

>> January 18, 2038, 19:14:07

That would thus be the highest date/time in UTC-8.
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Author Comment

by:stsanz
ID: 21815674
Well I found all the explanations here :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2038_problem

Thanks for your comments
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