What Is a MATLAB Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

What Is a MATLAB Data Structure?

When working with MATLAB, you will often need to store and manipulate data. MATLAB provides several data structures that allow you to organize and access your data efficiently. These data structures are essential for performing complex calculations, analyzing large datasets, and developing algorithms.

1. Scalars

A scalar is the simplest form of a MATLAB data structure. It represents a single value, such as a number or a character. Scalars are often used for storing constants or intermediate results in calculations.


x = 5;

In this example, x is a scalar variable with the value of 5.

2. Vectors

A vector is an ordered collection of elements stored in a single variable. Vectors can be row vectors (horizontal) or column vectors (vertical). They are commonly used for storing sequences of numbers or other types of data.


y = [1 2 3 4 5]; % Row vector

z = [1; 2; 3; 4; 5]; % Column vector

In these examples, y and z are vectors containing the numbers from 1 to 5.

3. Matrices

A matrix is a two-dimensional array of elements organized in rows and columns. Matrices are extensively used in linear algebra and numerical computations. They allow you to perform operations like matrix multiplication, addition, and inversion.


A = [1 2 3; 4 5 6; 7 8 9];

In this example, A is a matrix with three rows and three columns.

4. Cell Arrays

A cell array is a container that can hold elements of different types, such as numbers, characters, or other arrays. Cell arrays are useful when you need to store heterogeneous data or data of varying sizes.


C = {'apple', [1 2 3], pi};

In this example, C is a cell array containing a string (‘apple’), a numeric array ([1 2 3]), and the value of pi.

5. Structures

A structure is a collection of related data grouped together under one name. Each element in a structure is called a field and can have its own type and value. Structures are commonly used for organizing and accessing complex data.


S.name = 'John';

S.age = 30;

S.salary = 5000;

In this example, S is a structure with three fields: name, age, and salary.


Understanding MATLAB’s data structures is essential for effective programming and data analysis. Scalars, vectors, matrices, cell arrays, and structures provide the flexibility to work with different types of data efficiently. By leveraging these data structures effectively, you can unleash the full power of MATLAB in your projects.

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