MATLAB Function Reference    
Special Characters [ ] ( ) {} = ' . ... , ; % !

Special characters



[ ]

Brackets are used to form vectors and matrices. [6.9 9.64 sqrt(-1)] is a vector with three elements separated by blanks. [6.9, 9.64, i] is the same thing. [1+j 2-j 3] and [1 +j 2 -j 3] are not the same. The first has three elements, the second has five.
[11 12 13; 21 22 23] is a 2-by-3 matrix. The semicolon ends the first row.
Vectors and matrices can be used inside [ ] brackets. [A B;C] is allowed if the number of rows of A equals the number of rows of B and the number of columns of A plus the number of columns of B equals the number of columns of C. This rule generalizes in a hopefully obvious way to allow fairly complicated constructions.
A = [ ] stores an empty matrix in A. A(m,:) = [ ] deletes row m of A. A(:,n) = [ ] deletes column n of A. A(n) = [ ] reshapes A into a column vector and deletes the third element.
[A1,A2,A3...] = function assigns function output to multiple variables.
For the use of [ and ] on the left of an "=" in multiple assignment statements, see lu, eig, svd, and so on.

{ }

Curly braces are used in cell array assignment statements. For example,
A(2,1) = {[1 2 3; 4 5 6]}, or A{2,2} = ('str'). See help paren for more information about { }.

( )

Parentheses are used to indicate precedence in arithmetic expressions in the usual way. They are used to enclose arguments of functions in the usual way. They are also used to enclose subscripts of vectors and matrices in a manner somewhat more general than usual. If X and V are vectors, then X(V) is [X(V(1)), X(V(2)), ..., X(V(n))]. The components of V must be integers to be used as subscripts. An error occurs if any such subscript is less than 1 or greater than the size of X. Some examples are
  • X(3) is the third element of X.
  • X([1 2 3]) is the first three elements of X.

See help paren for more information about ( ).

If X has n components, X(n:-1:1) reverses them. The same indirect subscripting works in matrices. If V has m components and W has n components, then A(V,W) is the m-by-n matrix formed from the elements of A whose subscripts are the elements of V and W. For example, A([1,5],:) = A([5,1],:) interchanges rows 1 and 5 of A.


Used in assignment statements. B = A stores the elements of A in B.
== is the relational equals operator. See the Relational Operators page.


Matrix transpose. X' is the complex conjugate transpose of X. X.' is the nonconjugate transpose.

Quotation mark. 'any text' is a vector whose components are the ASCII codes for the characters. A quotation mark within the text is indicated by two quotation marks.


Decimal point. 314/100, 3.14 and .314e1 are all the same.
Element-by-element operations. These are obtained using .* , .^ , ./, or .\. See the Arithmetic Operators page.


Field access. A.(field) and A(i).field, when A is a structure, access the contents of field.


Parent directory. See cd.


Continuation. Three or more points at the end of a line indicate continuation.


Comma. Used to separate matrix subscripts and function arguments. Used to separate statements in multistatement lines. For multi-statement lines, the comma can be replaced by a semicolon to suppress printing.


Semicolon. Used inside brackets to end rows. Used after an expression or statement to suppress printing or to separate statements.


Percent. The percent symbol denotes a comment; it indicates a logical end of line. Any following text is ignored. MATLAB displays the first contiguous comment lines in a M-file in response to a help command.


Exclamation point. Indicates that the rest of the input line is issued as a command to the operating system. On the PC, adding & to the end of the ! command line, as in !dir &, causes the output to appear in a separate window.

Some uses of special characters have M-file function equivalents, as shown:

Horizontal concatenation
Vertical concatenation
Subscript reference
subsref(A,S). See help subsref.
Subscript assignment
A(i,j,k...)= B

subsasgn(A,S,B). See help subsasgn.

See Also

The arithmetic operators +, -, *, /, \, ^, '

The relational operators <, <=, >, >=, ==, ~=

The logical operators &, |, ~

  Logical Operators, Short-circuit && || Colon :