MATLAB^{®} never creates sparse matrices automatically. Instead, you must determine if a matrix contains a large enough percentage of zeros to benefit from sparse techniques.
The density of a matrix is the number of
nonzero elements divided by the total number of matrix elements. For
matrix M
, this would be
nnz(M) / prod(size(M));
nnz(M) / numel(M);
Matrices with very low density are often good candidates for use of the sparse format.
You can convert a full matrix to sparse storage using the sparse
function with a single argument.
S = sparse(A)
For example:
A = [ 0 0 0 5 0 2 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 4 0]; S = sparse(A)
produces
S = (3,1) 1 (2,2) 2 (3,2) 3 (4,3) 4 (1,4) 5
The printed output lists the nonzero elements of S
, together with their row and column indices. The elements are sorted
by columns, reflecting the internal data structure.
You can convert a sparse matrix to full storage using the full
function, provided the matrix order is not too large.
For example A = full(S)
reverses the example conversion.
Converting a full matrix to sparse storage is not the most frequent way of generating sparse matrices. If the order of a matrix is small enough that full storage is possible, then conversion to sparse storage rarely offers significant savings.
You can create a sparse matrix from a list of nonzero elements
using the sparse
function with five arguments.
S = sparse(i,j,s,m,n)
i
and j
are vectors of
row and column indices, respectively, for the nonzero elements of
the matrix. s
is a vector of nonzero values whose
indices are specified by the corresponding (i,j)
pairs. m
is the row dimension for the resulting
matrix, and n
is the column dimension.
The matrix S
of the previous example can
be generated directly with
S = sparse([3 2 3 4 1],[1 2 2 3 4],[1 2 3 4 5],4,4) S = (3,1) 1 (2,2) 2 (3,2) 3 (4,3) 4 (1,4) 5
The sparse
command has a number of alternate
forms. The example above uses a form that sets the maximum number
of nonzero elements in the matrix to length(s)
.
If desired, you can append a sixth argument that specifies a larger
maximum, allowing you to add nonzero elements later without reallocating
the sparse matrix.
The matrix representation of the second difference operator is a good example of a sparse matrix. It is a tridiagonal matrix with -2s on the diagonal and 1s on the super- and subdiagonal. There are many ways to generate it—here's one possibility.
D = sparse(1:n,1:n,-2*ones(1,n),n,n); E = sparse(2:n,1:n-1,ones(1,n-1),n,n); S = E+D+E'
For n = 5
, MATLAB responds with
S = (1,1) -2 (2,1) 1 (1,2) 1 (2,2) -2 (3,2) 1 (2,3) 1 (3,3) -2 (4,3) 1 (3,4) 1 (4,4) -2 (5,4) 1 (4,5) 1 (5,5) -2
Now F = full(S)
displays the corresponding
full matrix.
F = full(S) F = -2 1 0 0 0 1 -2 1 0 0 0 1 -2 1 0 0 0 1 -2 1 0 0 0 1 -2
Creating sparse matrices based on their diagonal elements is
a common operation, so the function spdiags
handles this task. Its syntax is
S = spdiags(B,d,m,n)
To create an output matrix S
of size m-by-n with elements on p
diagonals:
B
is a matrix of size min(m,n)
-by-p. The columns of B
are the values to populate the diagonals of S
.
d
is a vector of length p
whose integer elements specify which diagonals of S
to populate.
That is, the elements in column j
of B
fill the diagonal specified by element j
of d
.
Note:
If a column of |
As an example, consider the matrix B
and
the vector d
.
B = [ 41 11 0 52 22 0 63 33 13 74 44 24 ]; d = [-3 0 2];
Use these matrices to create a 7-by-4 sparse matrix A
:
A = spdiags(B,d,7,4) A = (1,1) 11 (4,1) 41 (2,2) 22 (5,2) 52 (1,3) 13 (3,3) 33 (6,3) 63 (2,4) 24 (4,4) 44 (7,4) 74
In its full form, A
looks like this:
full(A) ans = 11 0 13 0 0 22 0 24 0 0 33 0 41 0 0 44 0 52 0 0 0 0 63 0 0 0 0 74
spdiags
can also extract diagonal elements
from a sparse matrix, or replace matrix diagonal elements with new
values. Type help
spdiags
for
details.
You can import sparse matrices from computations outside the MATLAB environment.
Use the spconvert
function
in conjunction with the load
command to import
text files containing lists of indices and nonzero elements. For example,
consider a three-column text file T.dat
whose first
column is a list of row indices, second column is a list of column
indices, and third column is a list of nonzero values. These statements
load T.dat
into MATLAB and convert it into
a sparse matrix S
:
load T.dat S = spconvert(T)
The save
and load
commands can also process sparse
matrices stored as binary data in MAT-files.