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Why Matlab indexing for Matrices is not the same as that of Vectors?

Asked by ArashMat Fazl on 20 Dec 2011

Hi, I wonder why indexing is setup differently for matrices versus vectors ? If A is a matrix, A(B) has the same size of B. But if A is vector and B also a vector, A(B) will be a column or row vector depending on A and not on B. As an example:


A =

    16     2     3    13
     5    11    10     8
     9     7     6    12
     4    14    15     1

> A([1:5]')

ans =


> A([1:5])

ans =

    16     5     9     4     2

> A=ones(1,10);

> A([1:5])

ans =

     1     1     1     1     1

> A([1:5]')

ans =

     1     1     1     1     1

As you see , if A is a matrix, A([1:5]) is a row vector and A([1:5]') is a column vector. But if A is a row vector, A([1:5]) and A([1:5]') have the same size and both a row vector.

This double standard in treating a Matrix and a Vector produces special cases in the code that you have to correct to avoid error messages.




Robert Cumming on 21 Dec 2011

I have heard before that it slows it down - but never been able to reproduce it either -
your test on my PC produces: 3.2038 3.2034

Sean de Wolski on 21 Dec 2011

Four 10000ths of a second difference!! Not too shabby after five million iterations.

Robert Cumming on 21 Dec 2011

indeed :)

ArashMat Fazl



1 Answer

Answer by Sean de Wolski on 20 Dec 2011
Accepted answer
docsearch linear indexing

Gives a good set of explanations. The only time a row vector is returned from a linear index column vector (as in your example above) is when A is a row vector


Naz on 21 Dec 2011

@Walter. Good point

ArashMat Fazl on 21 Dec 2011

@Walter. Yup, it makes sense, even though down the road it creates some hassle.

Sean de Wolski on 21 Dec 2011

It can be a hassle occasionally (especially when find() returns a column vector). I usually just force everything to column vectors using the colon operator (x(:)) if there's any quuestion.

Sean de Wolski

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