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MATLAB Operator

An operator is a symbol that tells the compiler to perform various numerical or logical manipulations. MATLAB is designed to operate mainly on whole matrices and arrays. Therefore, functions in MATLAB work both on scalar and non-scalar data.

MATLAB has several types of operators, symbols, and special characters to deal with variables, functions, and arithmetic operations.

MATLAB Arithmetic Operators

Arithmetic operators help in performing simple arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and power.

Symbol Role Corresponding function
+ Addition plus
+ Unary plus uplus
- Subtraction minus
- Unary minus uminus
.* Element-wise multiplication times
* Matrix multiplication mtimes
./ Element-wise right division rdivide
.\ Element-wise left division ldivide
/ Matrix right division mrdivide
\ Matrix left division mldivide
.^ Element-wise power power
^ Matrix power mpower
.' Transpose transpose
' Complex conjugate transpose ctranspose

Arithmetic Operators and Arrays

Except for some matrix operators, MATLAB arithmetic operators work on corresponding functions of arrays with equal dimensions. For vectors and rectangular array, both operands must be the equivalent size unless one is a scalar. If one operand is a scalar and the other is not, MATLAB applies the scalar to every item of the other operand, this property is called scalar expansion.

This example uses scalar expansion to evaluate the product of a scalar operand and a matrix.

MATLAB Relational Operators

Relational operators perform value comparison operations.

Symbol Role Corresponding function
== Equal to eq
~= Not equal to ne
> Greater than gt
>= Greater than or equal to ge
< Less than lt
<= Less than or equal to le

Relational Operators and Arrays

The MATLAB relational operators compare corresponding components of arrays with equal dimensions. Relational operators always operate element-by-element. In this example, the resulting matrix present where the element of A is equal to the corresponding part of B.

For vectors and rectangular array, both operands must be the same size unless one is a scalar. In this case, where one operand is a scalar, and the other is not, MATLAB tests the scalar against every element of the other operand. Locations where the particular relation is true receive logical 1. Locations where the relation is false receive logical 0.

MATLAB Logical Operators

Logical operators perform logical operations and output the result in Boolean state true or false using the numbers 1 and 0, respectively.

MATLAB offer three types of logical operators and functions:

  • Element-wise: It works on corresponding elements of logical arrays.
  • Bit-wise: It works on corresponding bits of integer values or arrays.
  • Short-circuit: It works on scalar, logical expressions.

The values returned by MATLAB logical operators and functions, with the exception of bit-wise functions, are of type logical and are suitable for use with logical indexing.

Element-Wise Operators and Functions

The following logical operators and functions execute element-wise logical operations on their inputs to produce a like-sized output array. The examples are shown in the following table use vector inputs A and B, where

A = [0 1 1 0 1];
B = [1 1 0 0 1];

Symbol Role Description Example
& Logical AND It returns 1 for every element location that is true (nonzero) in both arrays and 0 for all other elements. A & B = 01001
| Logical OR It returns 1 for every element location that is true (nonzero) in either one or the other, or both arrays, and 0 for all other elements. A | B = 11101
~ Logical NOT It complements each element of the input array, A. ~A = 10010
xor It returns 1 for every element location that is true (nonzero) in only one array, and 0 for all other elements. xor(A,B)=10100

For operators and functions that take two array operands (&, |, and xor), both arrays must have the same dimensions, with each dimension being the same size. The one exception to this is where one operand is a scalar, and the other is not.

Note: MATLAB converts any finite nonzero, mathematic values used as inputs to logical expressions to logical 1, or true.

Bit-Wise Operator

The following functions execute bit-wise logical operations on nonnegative integer inputs. Inputs may be scalar or in arrays. If in arrays, these operations produce a like-sized output array.

The examples are present in the following table use scalar inputs A and B, where

A = 28;         % binary 11100
B = 21;         % binary 10101

Function Description Example
bitand It returns the bit-wise AND of two nonnegative integer arguments. bitand(A,B) = 20
(binary 10100)
bitor It returns the bit-wise OR of two nonnegative integer arguments. bitor(A,B) = 29
(binary 11101)
bitcmp It returns the bit-wise complement as an n-bit number, where n is the second input argument to bitcmp. bitcmp(A,5) = 3
(binary 00011)
bitxor It returns the bit-wise exclusive OR of two nonnegative integer arguments. bitxor(A,B) = 9
(binary 01001)

Short-Circuit Operators

The following operators execute AND and OR operations on logical expressions, including scalar values. They are short-circuiting operators in that they calculate their second operand only when the first operand does not fully determine the output.

Operator Description
&& It returns logical 1 (true) if both inputs calculate to true, and logical 0 (false) if they do not.
|| It returns logical 1 (true) if either input, or both, calculate to true, and logical 0 (false) if they do not.

MATLAB Special Characters

Special characters perform some particular tasks according to their behavior and the position where they are used.

Symbol Symbol Name Role
@ At symbol
  • Function manage construction and reference
  • Call super-class methods
. Period or dot
  • Decimal point
  • Element-wise operations
  • Structure field access
  • Object property or method specifier
... Dot dot dot or ellipsis
  • Line continuation
, Comma
  • Separator
: Colon
  • Vector creation
  • Indexing
  • For-loop iteration
; Semicolon
  • Signify end of the row
  • Suppress output of code line
( ) Parentheses
  • Operator precedence
  • Function argument enclosure
  • Indexing
[ ] Square brackets
  • Array concatenation
  • Array construction
  • Empty matrix and array element deletion
  • Multiple output argument assignment
{ } Curly brackets
  • Cell array assignment and contents
% Percent
  • Comment
  • Conversion specifier
%{ %} Percent curly bracket
  • Block comments
! Exclamation point
  • Operating system command
? Question mark
  • Metaclass for MATLAB class
' ' Single quotes
  • Character array constructor
" " Double quotes
  • String constructor
N/A Space character
  • Separator
~ Tilde
  • Logical NOT
  • Argument placeholder
= Equal sign
  • assignment

MATLAB String and Character Formatting Special Characters

There are some special characters to use only within the text of a character or string. These special characters are used to insert newlines or carriage returns, specify folder paths.

Symbol Symbol Name Role Example
File or folder path separation Windows:
dir([matlabroot '\toolbox\matlab\elmat\scriptview1.m']) or
dir([matlabroot '/toolbox/matlab/elmat/scriptview1.m'])
UNIX/Linux system: only forward slash
dir([matlabroot '/toolbox/matlab/elmat/scriptview1.m'])
.. Dot dot Parent folder cd ..\..\example
Goes up two levels and then down into the example folder
* Asterisk Wildcard character dir('example_*.mat')
Finds all files with names start with example and have a .mat extension
@ At symbol Class folder indicator \@myScriptClass\get.m
+ Plus Package directory indicator +mypack

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