What Is a Data Type in MATLAB?


Scott Campbell

In MATLAB, a data type defines the kind of values that a variable can store. It specifies the size and format of the data, which affects the range of values that can be represented and the operations that can be performed on them.

Primary Data Types:

There are several primary data types in MATLAB:

  • Numeric Data Types:
    • double: Represents double-precision floating-point numbers. It is the default numeric data type in MATLAB and provides high precision.
    • single: Represents single-precision floating-point numbers. It uses less memory than double but offers lower precision.
    • int8, int16, int32, int64: Represent signed integer values with different ranges and memory requirements.
    • uint8, uint16, uint32, uint64: Represent unsigned integer values with different ranges and memory requirements.
  • Character Data Type:
    • char: Represents individual characters or strings of characters. Strings are enclosed within single quotes (”).
  • Logical Data Type:
    • logical: Represents true or false values. It is commonly used for logical indexing and conditional statements.

Determining Data Type:

To determine the data type of a variable or expression in MATLAB, you can use the built-in function ‘class‘. For example:

x = 5;
y = 'Hello';
z = true;

class(x)  % Returns 'double'
class(y)  % Returns 'char'
class(z)  % Returns 'logical'

Type Conversion:

It is often necessary to convert data between different types in MATLAB. MATLAB provides various functions for type conversion:

  • num2str: Converts numeric values to strings.
  • str2num: Converts strings to numeric values.
  • int2str: Converts integers to strings.
  • char: Converts numeric values to characters.


The functions mentioned above are just a few examples. MATLAB provides many more functions for type conversion, depending on the specific requirements.


Data types play a crucial role in MATLAB programming as they determine the behavior and capabilities of variables. Understanding the different data types available and how to work with them is essential for effective coding in MATLAB.

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