Getting Started    

Matrices and Magic Squares

In MATLAB, a matrix is a rectangular array of numbers. Special meaning is sometimes attached to 1-by-1 matrices, which are scalars, and to matrices with only one row or column, which are vectors. MATLAB has other ways of storing both numeric and nonnumeric data, but in the beginning, it is usually best to think of everything as a matrix. The operations in MATLAB are designed to be as natural as possible. Where other programming languages work with numbers one at a time, MATLAB allows you to work with entire matrices quickly and easily. A good example matrix, used throughout this book, appears in the Renaissance engraving Melencolia I by the German artist and amateur mathematician Albrecht Dürer.

This image is filled with mathematical symbolism, and if you look carefully, you will see a matrix in the upper right corner. This matrix is known as a magic square and was believed by many in Dürer's time to have genuinely magical properties. It does turn out to have some fascinating characteristics worth exploring.

  Manipulating Matrices Entering Matrices