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Offline computing tutorial Maintained by Michael DePhillips


There are three timestamps used in STAR databases;

beginTime This is STAR user timestamp and it defines ia validity range
entryTime insertion into the database
deactive either a 0 or a UNIX timestamp - used for turning off a row of data

EntryTime and deactive are essential for 'reproducibility' and 'stability' in production.

The beginTime is the STAR user timestamp. One manifistation of this, is the time recorded by daq at the beginning of a run. It is valid until the the beginning of the next run. So, the end of validity is the next beginTime. In this example it the time range will contain many event times which are also defined by the daq system.

The beginTime can also be use in calibration/geometry to define a range of valid values.

EXAMPLE: (et = entryTime) The beginTime represents a 'running' timeline that marks changes in db records w/r to daq's event timestamp. In this example, say at some time, et1, I put in an initial record in the db with daqtime=bt1. This data will now be used for all daqTimes later than bt1. Now, I add a second record at et2 (time I write to the db) with beginTime=bt2 > bt1. At this point the 1st record is valid from bt1 to bt2 and the second is valid for bt2 to infinity. Now I add a 3rd record on et3 with bt3 < bt1 so that

1st valid bt1-to-bt2, 2nd valid bt2-to-infinity, 3rd is valid bt3-to-bt1.

Let's say that after we put in the 1st record but before we put in the second one, Lydia runs a tagged production that we'll want to 'use' forever. Later I want to reproduce some of this production (e.g. embedding...) but the database has changed (we've added 2nd and 3rd entries). I need to view the db as it existed prior to et2. To do this, whenever we run production, we defined a productionTimestamp at that production time, pt1 (which is in this example < et2). pt1 is passed to the StDbLib code and the code requests only data that was entered before pt1. This is how production in 'reproducible'.

The mechanism also provides 'stability'. Suppose at time et2 the production was still running. Use of pt1 is a barrier to the production from 'seeing' the later db entries.

Now let's assume that the 1st production is over, we have all 3 entries, and we want to run a new production. However, we decide that the 1st entry is no good and the 3rd entry should be used instead. We could delete the 1st entry so that 3rd entry is valid from bt3-to-bt2 but then we could not reproduce the original production. So what we do is 'deactivate' the 1st entry with a timestamp, d1. And run the new production at pt2 > d1. The sql is written so that the 1st entry is ignored as long as pt2 > d1. But I can still run a production with pt1 < d1 which means the 1st entry was valid at time pt1, so it IS used.

One word of caution, you should not deactivate data without training!
email your request to the database expert.

In essence the API will request data as following:

'entryTime <productionTime<deactive || entryTime< productionTime & deactive==0.'

To put this to use with the BFC a user must use the dbv switch. For example, a chain that includes dbv20020802 will return values from the database as if today were August 2, 2002. In other words, the switch provides a user with a snapshot of the database from the requested time (which of coarse includes valid values older than that time). This ensures the reproducability of production.
If you do not specify this tag (or directly pass a prodTime to StDbLib) then you'll get the latest (non-deactivated) DB records.

Below is an example of the actual queries executed by the API:

select beginTime + 0 as mendDateTime, unix_timestamp(beginTime) as mendTime from eemcDbADCconf Where nodeID=16 AND flavor In('ofl') AND (deactive=0 OR deactive > =1068768000) AND unix_timestamp(entryTime) < =1068768000 AND beginTime > from_unixtime(1054276488) And elementID In(1) Order by beginTime limit 1

select unix_timestamp(beginTime) as bTime,eemcDbADCconf.* from eemcDbADCconf Where nodeID=16 AND flavor In('ofl') AND (deactive=0 OR deactive>=1068768000) AND unix_timestamp(entryTime) < =1068768000 AND beginTime < =from_unixtime(1054276488) AND elementID In(1) Order by beginTime desc limit 1

For a description of format see ....