I have 200k pieces of data like this (only two elements shown), imported from a CSV file

{{2015, 11, 12, "17:04", 1.0811}, {2015, 11, 12, "17:05", 1.0811}}

and want to turn it into a list suitable for DateListPlot (I will only take small chunks once I have a plottable list], i.e. like

{{{2015, 11, 12, 17,04}, 1.0811}, {{2015, 11, 12, 17:05}, 1.0811}}

EDIT The first two lines of the CSV file are, verbatim,

12/11/2015 17:04,12,11,2015,12/11/2015,17:04,1.08110,1.08109,1.08110,1.08109


Having looked at Replace, and general List manipulation instructions I realise I don't know where to begin as I am still new to Mathematica. I have looked at related questions but none has seemed appropriate since I wish to replace and restructure at the same time.

I suppose I could simply build a new table and use DateValue to get the Hour and Minute from Part 4 of each sub list, but this seems heavy handed and I would also like to take the opportunity to learn more elegant/efficient methods of performing such list manipulations.

What would you recommend - and why?

[And - is there a way of forcing a list structure during the import so that the CVS fields for dates/time values are automatically combined into such a sublist?]

  • $\begingroup$ "is there a way of forcing a list structure" ... not sure I understand, but see second argument of SemanticImport (not Import). Is that what you want? $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, that might deliver the end result I am looking for the overall import operation, but having come across the problem of changing a list as described I would like to know that answer too. Was going AFK when your comment came in so will have to check later. Thx. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ You can get your desired list if you do: {#[[1 ;; 4]], Last[#]} & /@ list $\endgroup$
    – mgamer
    Oct 19, 2016 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ If you can upload a small sample of your CSV file, I can look into how to semantically import it properly. $\endgroup$
    – dan7geo
    Oct 19, 2016 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @dan7geo I have added header and 1st line; now that my attention has been drawn to SemanticImport I could do the simple part of making one list per CSV row, it's structuring it as required for DateListPlot that would be most illuminating $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


To create a list of DateObjects and values you can first do this:

list = {DateObject@Join[#[[;; 3]], 
 ToExpression /@ StringSplit[#[[4]], ":"]], #[[5]]} & /@ data

Replace data with your data. ( /@ stands for Map and # & notation creates a pure function)

Then you can run the following to plot your data:



To create a function that processes the list:

makePlottable := {DateObject@Join[#[[;; 3]], 
 ToExpression /@ StringSplit[#[[4]], ":"]], #[[5]]} & /@ # &

(This feature might be useful for further processing: https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/TimeSeries.html )

  • $\begingroup$ I expect that works as promised, but having said I am still new to MMA in the question I'm afraid it's too terse for me, but my attempt to grok it is: DateObject (ah! {y, m, d..} or dateobj for DateListPlot) takes ymdhm(s) #[[;; 3]] picks Y M D, StringSplit must be getting h &m; all datetime stuff is then joined and becomes the DateObject and item 5 (the value) appended. # must be a placeholder for the current list item but how the #, & and /@ work together escapes me for now :( $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ Could you expand that expression as function calls so it looks like e.g. makePlottable[aList_List] := Map[... I tried and failed and this would help me understand & learn. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I've got as far as makePlottable[aList_List] := {DateObject[Join[#[[;; 3]]], ToExpression [StringSplit[#[[4]], ":"]]], #[[5]]} & /@ aList but how do I replace the & /@ at the end? $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ See update to the answer with links explaining those things. $\endgroup$
    – dan7geo
    Oct 21, 2016 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ :) Love the extra "# &" after the "& /@" I was already unclear about :) Where might I find such non-trivial examples explained step by step (or operator by operator) so I can decode for my still rather procedural brain? I've upvoted your answer but, since I did ask for the "why?" (meaning: how it works) I haven't accepted it (yet) $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2016 at 13:47

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