What Is Data Type in MATLAB?


Heather Bennett

When working with MATLAB, understanding the concept of data types is essential. Data types define the type of data that a variable can hold.

In MATLAB, there are several built-in data types that serve different purposes. In this article, we will explore these data types and understand how they can be used in MATLAB programming.

Numeric Data Types

One of the most commonly used data types in MATLAB is numeric data types. MATLAB supports various numeric data types, including:

  • double: This is the default numeric data type in MATLAB. It represents double-precision floating-point numbers and provides high precision.
  • single: This data type represents single-precision floating-point numbers and is useful when memory usage is a concern.
  • int8, int16, int32, int64: These are signed integer data types with different storage sizes (8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit).
  • uint8, uint16, uint32, uint64: These are unsigned integer data types with different storage sizes.

In MATLAB, you can create variables of these numeric data types using appropriate syntax. For example:

x = single(3.14); % Creates a variable 'x' of type single
y = int16(-10); % Creates a variable 'y' of type int16

Character Data Type

The character data type in MATLAB represents individual characters or strings. In MATLAB, characters are enclosed within single quotes (”).

Strings are sequences of characters enclosed within double quotes (“”). For example:

c = 'A'; % Creates a character variable 'c'
s = "Hello, World!"; % Creates a string variable 's'

You can perform various operations on character and string variables, such as concatenation, comparison, and extraction of substrings.

Logical Data Type

The logical data type in MATLAB represents true or false values. In MATLAB, the logical data type is denoted by the keywords true and false.

Logical variables are often used for conditional statements and logical operations. For example:

flag = true; % Creates a logical variable 'flag' with value true
result = (x > y); % Performs a logical operation and stores the result in 'result'

Cell Data Type

The cell data type in MATLAB is used to store heterogeneous data elements in a single container. It can hold different types of data, including numeric values, characters, strings, and even other variables.

Cells are created using curly braces ({}) and can be accessed using indexing. For example:

cellArray = {'apple', 3.14, [1 2 3]}; % Creates a cell array with different types of data
value = cellArray{2}; % Accesses the second element of the cell array

Struct Data Type

The struct data type in MATLAB is used to create structures that can hold multiple pieces of related data. Each piece of data is stored as a field within the structure.

Structs are created using the struct() function and accessed using dot notation (.). For example:

person.name = 'John Doe'; % Adds a field 'name' to the struct 'person'
person.age = 30; % Adds a field 'age' to the struct 'person'

You can access individual fields of a struct using dot notation. For example, person.name will give you the value ‘John Doe’.


Data types play a crucial role in MATLAB programming. By understanding and utilizing different data types, you can effectively store and manipulate data in your MATLAB programs. Whether it’s numeric data, characters, logical values, or complex structures, MATLAB provides a wide range of data types to suit your programming needs.

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