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IIRC, the interval is computed on demand when needed for a given rule. The interval is a minimum interval, if no matching requests arrive then the rps won't be computed again until needed.
FYI Sun open-sourced most of the Web Server code, so you can check the implementation directly if you wish.
Looks like the relevant part is starting on line 308 of http://heliod.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/heliod/trunk/src/server/safs/reqlimit.cpp?revision=2&view=markup