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Define Enumeration Classes

Enumeration Class

Create an enumeration class by adding an enumeration block to a class definition. For example, the WeekDays class enumerates a set of days of the week.

classdef WeekDays
   enumeration
      Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
   end
end

To execute the MATLAB® code in the following sections, place the WeekDays class definition in a .m file on your path.

Construct an Enumeration Member

Refer to an enumeration member using the class name and the member name:

ClassName.MemberName

For example, assign the enumeration member WeekDays.Tuesday to the variable today:

today = WeekDays.Tuesday;

today is a variable of class WeekDays:

whos
  Name       Size            Bytes  Class       Attributes

  today      1x1                104  WeekDays              
today
today = 

    Tuesday

Convert to Superclass Value

If an enumeration class specifies a superclass, convert an enumeration object to the superclass by passing the object to the superclass constructor. However, the superclass constructor must be able to accept its own class as input and return an instance of the superclass. MATLAB built-in numeric classes, such as uint32, allow this conversion.

For example, the Bearing class derives from the uint32 built-in class:

classdef Bearing < uint32
   enumeration
      North (0)
      East  (90)
      South (180)
      West  (270)
   end
end

Assign the Bearing.East member to the variable a:

a = Bearing.East;

Pass a to the superclass constructor and return a uint32 value:

b = uint32(a);
whos
  Name      Size            Bytes  Class      Attributes

  a         1x1                60  Bearing              
  b         1x1                 4  uint32               

The uint32 constructor accepts an object of the subclass Bearing and returns and object of class uint32.

Define Methods in Enumeration Classes

Define methods in an enumeration class like any MATLAB class. For example, here is the WeekDays class with a method called isMeetingDay added:

classdef WeekDays
   enumeration
      Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
   end
   methods
      function tf = isMeetingDay(obj)
         tf = ~(WeekDays.Tuesday == obj);
      end
   end
end

Call isMeetingDay with an instance of the WeekDays class:

today = WeekDays.Tuesday;
today.isMeetingDay
ans =

     0

Use the enumeration member directly as input to the method:

isMeetingDay(WeekDays.Wednesday)
ans =

     1

Define Properties in Enumeration Classes

Add properties to an enumeration class when you must store data related to the enumeration members. Set the property values in the class constructor. For example, the SyntaxColors class defines three properties whose values the constructor assigns to the values of the input arguments when you reference a class member.

classdef SyntaxColors
   properties
      R
      G
      B
   end
   methods
      function c = SyntaxColors(r, g, b)
         c.R = r; c.G = g; c.B = b;
      end
   end
   enumeration
      Error   (1, 0, 0)
      Comment (0, 1, 0)
      Keyword (0, 0, 1)
      String  (1, 0, 1)
   end
end

When you refer to an enumeration member, the constructor initializes the property values:

e = SyntaxColors.Error;
e.R
ans =

     1

Because SyntaxColors is a value class (it does not derive from handle), only the class constructor can set property values:

e.R = 0
You cannot set the read-only property 'R' of SyntaxColors.

For more information on enumeration classes that define properties, see Mutable Handle vs. Immutable Value Enumeration Members.

Enumeration Class Constructor Calling Sequence

Each statement in an enumeration block is the name of an enumeration member, optionally followed by an argument list. If the enumeration class defines a constructor, MATLAB calls the constructor to create the enumerated instances.

MATLAB provides a default constructor for all enumeration classes that do not explicitly define a constructor. The default constructor creates an instance of the enumeration class:

  • Using no input arguments, if the enumeration member defines no input arguments

  • Using the input arguments defined in the enumeration class for that member

For example, the input arguments for the Bool class are 0 for Bool.No and 1 for Bool.Yes.

classdef Bool < logical
   enumeration
      No  (0)
      Yes (1)
   end
end

The values of 0 and 1 are of class logical because the default constructor passes the argument to the first superclass. That is, this statement:

n = Bool.No;

Results in a call to logical that is equivalent to the following statement in a constructor:

function obj = Bool(val)
   obj@logical(val)
end

MATLAB passes the member argument only to the first superclass. For example, suppose Bool derived from another class:

classdef Bool < logical & MyBool
   enumeration
      No  (0)
      Yes (1)
   end
end

The MyBool class can add some specialized behavior:

classdef MyBool
   methods
      function boolValues = testBools(obj)
         ...
      end
   end
end

The default Bool constructor behaves as if defined like this function:

  • Argument passed to first superclass constructor

  • No arguments passed to subsequent constructors

function obj = Bool(val)
   obj@logical(val) 
   obj@MyBool       
end

Related Examples

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