Posts Tagged ‘random timestamp’

Generating a random timestamp in MySQL

Random timestamps are fairly simple to generate and useful when creating test data or fake data for demos. The technique involves converting a MySQL timestamp into unix time, adding or subtracting a certain time range (in seconds), then converting back to a MySQL timestamp.

I’ve used this technique presented on before, where a starting timestamp is specified and a random time span is added to the timestamp. However, I wanted to try something slightly different and, in my opinion, a bit more robust. Instead of specifying a starting timestamp, I wanted a pivot timestamp from which a random time span is randomly added or subtracted.

SET @pivot_ts = '2013-01-15 22:15:45';
SET @max_span = 432000; /* 5 days in seconds */
SET @bias = SIGN(-0.5 + RAND());

UNIX_TIMESTAMP(@pivot_ts) + ( @bias * (FLOOR(RAND()*@max_span)) )

Of course all the variables can be made part of the SELECT statement to make everything more succient.