Javatpoint Logo
Javatpoint Logo

Size Function in MATLAB:

MATLAB, a powerful programming language and environment widely used in scientific and engineering applications, offers a variety of functions for efficient data manipulation and analysis. Among these, the size() function plays a crucial role in determining the dimensions of arrays and matrices. This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth exploration of the size() function in MATLAB, covering its syntax, applications, advanced features, and practical examples.

Understanding the Basics: Syntax and Basic Usage

The size() function in MATLAB serves a fundamental purpose - obtaining the dimensions of an array or matrix. Its syntax is straightforward:

Here, A represents the array or matrix, and s is a vector containing the sizes of each dimension. For example:

In this example, s would be [2, 3], indicating that matrix A has 2 rows and 3 columns.

Understanding Dimensions in MATLAB

Before delving deeper into the size() function, it is crucial to comprehend the concept of dimensions in MATLAB. In a 2D array or matrix, the first dimension corresponds to rows, and the second dimension corresponds to columns. This concept naturally extends to higher-dimensional arrays.

Practical Applications

1. Checking Array Dimensions

A primary application of the size() function is verifying the dimensions of an array before performing operations dependent on its structure. Consider the following example:

In this example, the size() function helps determine whether the matrix A is square by comparing the sizes of its first and second dimensions.

2. Iterating Over Dimensions

When dealing with higher-dimensional arrays, such as 3D or 4D arrays, iterating over specific dimensions becomes crucial. The size() function facilitates this by providing the sizes of all dimensions. Consider the following example:

Here, the size() function is employed to iterate over each dimension of the 3D array B, allowing access to individual elements.

Advanced Usage and Additional Parameters

The size() function in MATLAB comes with additional parameters that enhance its functionality.

1. Specifying Dimension

The size() function allows users to retrieve the size of a specific dimension. By providing the dimension as a second argument, the function returns the size only for that particular dimension. For example:

In this case, rows will be 5, and cols will be 7.

2. Matrix vs. Vector Output

By default, the size() function returns a vector containing the sizes of all dimensions. However, when a single output argument is used, it returns the maximum size along each dimension as a scalar. For example:

Here, maxSize will be 4, indicating the maximum size along any dimension.

3. Size Information as Separate Outputs

For improved readability and usability, the size() function can be called with multiple output arguments:

In this example, rowsE will be 2, and colsE will be 3, providing a clear and direct way to access the sizes of individual dimensions.

Handling Empty Arrays

The size() function plays a crucial role in handling empty arrays. When applied to an empty array, it returns a vector of zeros, reflecting the absence of elements in each dimension. For example:

In this case, sizeInfo will be [0, 0], indicating that the empty array has zero rows and zero columns.

Performance Considerations

While the size() function is a versatile tool for obtaining array dimensions, it's essential to consider performance implications when dealing with large datasets. Frequent calls to size() within loops or extensive computations may impact program efficiency. In such cases, precomputing the size information outside the loop can help optimize the code.

Size Function in Practical Scenarios

1. Image Processing

In image processing applications, the size() function is commonly used to determine the dimensions of images. For instance, when resizing images or performing convolution operations, knowing the size of the image is essential for accurate computations.

2. Data Analysis

In data analysis and statistics, the size() function aids in understanding the structure of datasets. For instance, when working with a dataset representing measurements over time, the number of data points at each time step can be crucial.


Below is a simple MATLAB code snippet demonstrating the basic usage of the size() function:


Size Function in MATLAB

This code generates a random 3x4 matrix and then uses the size() function to obtain its dimensions. Finally, it displays both the original matrix and its dimensions.


  • Versatility:

The size() function is versatile and can be applied to arrays or matrices of any dimension, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

  • Simplicity:

The syntax of the size() function is straightforward, making it easy to use, especially for beginners in MATLAB programming.

  • Dimension Query:

It provides a quick and convenient way to query the dimensions of an array, which is essential for performing operations and ensuring data consistency.

  • Array Integrity:

Checking array dimensions using size() helps in avoiding errors related to mismatched dimensions when performing mathematical or logical operations on arrays.

  • Compatibility:

The function is compatible with various MATLAB data types, including matrices, cell arrays, and structures, contributing to its widespread use across different applications.

  • Loop Iteration:

It is useful for iterating over elements in arrays, especially when dealing with multi-dimensional arrays. The dimensions obtained from size() facilitate efficient loop design.


  • Performance Implications:

Frequent calls to size() within loops or extensive computations may impact program efficiency. In such cases, precomputing the size information outside the loop can help optimize the code.

  • Not Applicable to Scalars:

The size() function is not applicable to scalar values. If you attempt to use it on a scalar, it will return a fixed size of 1x1, which might be unnecessary and misleading in some contexts.

  • Complexity for Multi-dimensional Arrays:

Understanding and managing the dimensions of multi-dimensional arrays can become complex, particularly for those new to MATLAB. The size() function returns a vector of dimensions, and interpreting this information for higher-dimensional arrays might require additional effort.

  • Limited Information:

While size() provides information about the array's dimensions, it doesn't reveal details about the array's content or structure. Additional functions or methods might be required for in-depth analysis.

  • Dependency on Array Content:

The results from size() depend on the actual content of the array. For cell arrays or structures with varying content, the dimensions might not represent the structure's full complexity.


In conclusion, the size() function in MATLAB is a fundamental tool for obtaining the dimensions of arrays or matrices. Its simplicity, versatility, and various applications make it an indispensable part of MATLAB programming. Whether used for checking dimensions, iterating over elements, or optimizing code performance, the size() function plays a vital role in diverse fields, from scientific research to image processing and data analysis. Understanding its nuances and incorporating it effectively into MATLAB code enhances the efficiency and reliability of various computational tasks. The comprehensive coverage in this guide aims to empower users to leverage the size() function effectively for a wide range of applications.

Next TopicImagesc in MATLAB

Youtube For Videos Join Our Youtube Channel: Join Now


Help Others, Please Share

facebook twitter pinterest

Learn Latest Tutorials


Trending Technologies

B.Tech / MCA