Creating Closed Time Intervals with Python Pandas

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: Time series data often requires precise time interval handling. In Python’s Pandas library, creating and manipulating time intervals is a common task. This article explains how to create a closed time interval and verify whether both endpoints are within the interval, using Pandas. For instance, given the start time ‘2020-01-01 00:00:00’ and end time ‘2020-01-02 23:59:59’, we want to ensure both points are encapsulated in a closed interval.

Method 1: Using pd.Interval and pd.Timestamp

Pandas provides a pd.Interval constructor to create a specific type of interval, closed on both ends. Combine this with pd.Timestamp objects to construct an interval between two precise timestamps.

Here’s an example:

import pandas as pd

start = pd.Timestamp('2020-01-01 00:00:00')
end = pd.Timestamp('2020-01-02 23:59:59')
interval = pd.Interval(start, end, closed='both')


The output of this code snippet:

Interval('2020-01-01', '2020-01-02', closed='both')

This code snippet illustrates how a closed time interval is created using pd.Interval. Start and end timestamps are first converted into pd.Timestamp objects, ensuring precision and correct handling of time zone information. The interval is constructed as ‘closed’ on both sides, which includes both the start and the end points in the interval.

Method 2: Interval Checking with in Operator

Once a closed interval is created, the in operator can be used to check if specific endpoints exist within this interval.

Here’s an example:

print(start in interval)
print(end in interval)

The output will reflect the truth value for the existence of points:

True True

This method shows the use of the in operator to verify that both the predefined start and end timestamps are encapsulated within the interval. This direct method is convenient for endpoint inclusion testing.

Method 3: Using interval.contains() Method

The contains() method on a Pandas interval object is another way to check for the existence of endpoints within the interval.

Here’s an example:


The output will once again be boolean values:

True True

The interval.contains() method is explicitly designed to check for point containment within an interval. This makes the code more readable and clearly communicates the intention of the check.

Method 4: Explicit Interval Edges Comparison

If checking for containment isn’t strictly necessary, you can compare endpoints with interval edges directly, ensuring that the endpoints are within the interval’s bounds.

Here’s an example:

print(start >= interval.left and start <= interval.right)
print(end >= interval.left and end <= interval.right)

The output will be:

True True

By comparing the start and end times with the interval’s left (start) and right (end) properties, this method confirms the endpoints reside within the interval. Although not using the built-in interval methods, it’s a direct and understandable approach.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Chain Comparisons for Endpoints

A one-liner using chain comparison can be a concise way to check if both endpoints exist within the interval.

Here’s an example:

print(interval.left <= start <= interval.right)
print(interval.left <= end <= interval.right)

The output here too will be boolean values:

True True

This one-liner takes advantage of Python’s ability to chain comparisons. It’s a compact way to verify endpoint existence within an interval, making the code brief yet effective.


  • Method 1: Interval Construction with Pandas. Strengths: Precise and utilizes Pandas built-in functionality for time management. Weaknesses: Requires knowledge of Pandas time structures.
  • Method 2: In Operator Checking. Strengths: Quick and straightforward. Weaknesses: May not be explicit enough for complex checks.
  • Method 3: Using contains(). Strengths: Readable, with clear intent. Weaknesses: Slightly more verbose.
  • Method 4: Direct Comparison. Strengths: Explicit without reliance on specific methods. Weaknesses: Less idiomatic for users familiar with Pandas intervals.
  • Method 5: Chain Comparisons. Strengths: Extremely concise. Weaknesses: May impact readability for those unfamiliar with the syntax.