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An Introduction to MATLAB: Variables

Module by: Louis Scharf. E-mail the author

Note:

This module is part of the collection, A First Course in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The LaTeX source files for this collection were created using an optical character recognition technology, and because of this process there may be more errors than usual. Please contact us if you discover any errors.

Any result you wish to keep for a while may be assigned to a variable other than ans:

≫ x = pi/7
≫ cos(x)
≫ y = sin(x)^2+cos(x)^2;
≫ y

A semicolon (;) at the end of the line suppresses printing of the result, as when we calculated y y in the next-to-last line just shown. This feature is especially useful when writing MATLAB programs where intermediate results are not of interest and when working with large matrices.

MATLAB supports the dynamic creation of variables. You can create your own variables by just assigning a value to a variable. For example, type x = 3.5+4.2. Then the real variable x contains the value 7.7. Variable names must start with an alphabetical character and be less than nineteen characters long. If you type x = -3*4.0, the content 7.7 is replaced by the value -12. Some commands allow you to keep track of all the variables that you have already created in your session. Type who or whos to get the list and names of the variables currently in memory (whos gives more information than who). To clear all the variables, type in clear. To clear a single variable (or several) from the list, follow the command clear by the name of the variable you want to delete or by a list of variable names separated by spaces. Try it now.

MATLAB is case sensitive. In other words, x x and X X are two different variables. You can control the case sensitivity of MATLAB by entering the command casesen, which toggles the sensitivity. The command casesen on enforces case sensitivity, and casesen off cancels it.

If one line is not enough to enter your command, then finish the first line with two dots ((. . )) and continue on the next line. You can enter more than one command per line by separating them with commas if you want the result displayed or with semicolons if you do not want the result displayed. For example, type

≫ theta = pi/7; x = cos(theta); y = sin(theta);
≫ x,y

to first compute theta,cos(theta), and sin(theta) and then to print x x and y y.

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