MATLAB^{®} classes support object array indexing by default. Many class designs require no modification to this behavior.

Arrays enable you to reference and assign elements of the array using a subscripted notation. This notation specifies the indices of specific array elements. For example, suppose that you create two arrays of numbers (using `randi`

and concatenation).

Create a 3-by-4 array of integers from 1 through 9:

A = randi(9,3,4)

A = 4 8 5 7 4 2 6 3 7 5 7 7

Create a 1-by-3 array of the numbers 3, 6, 9:

B = [3 6 9];

Reference and assign elements of either array using index values in parentheses:

B(2) = A(3,4); B

B = 3 7 9

When you execute a statement that involves indexed reference:

C = A(3,4);

MATLAB calls the built-in `subsref`

function to determine how to interpret the statement. Similarly, if you execute a statement that involves indexed assignment:

C(4) = 7;

MATLAB calls the built-in `subsasgn`

function to determine how to interpret the statement.

The MATLAB default `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

functions also work with user-defined objects. For example, create an array of objects of the same class:

for k=1:3 objArray(k) = MyClass; end

Referencing the second element in the object array, `objArray`

, returns the object constructed when `k = 2`

:

D = objArray(2); class(D)

ans = MyClass

You can assign an object to an array of objects of the same class, or an uninitialized variable:

newArray(3,4) = D;

Arrays of objects behave much like numeric arrays in MATLAB. You do not need to implement any special methods to provide standard array behavior with your class.

For general information about array indexing, see Array Indexing.

You can modify your class indexed reference and/or assignment behavior by implementing class methods called `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

. For syntax description, see their respective reference pages.

Once you add a `subsref`

or `subsasgn`

method to your class, then MATLAB calls only the class method, not the built-in function. Therefore, your class method must implement all the indexed reference and assignment operations that you want your class to support. These operations include:

Dot notation calls to class methods

Dot notation reference and assignment involving properties

Any indexing using parentheses

`'()'`

Any indexing using braces

`'{}'`

Implementing `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

methods gives you complete control over the interpretation of indexing expressions for objects of your class. Implementing the extent of behaviors that MATLAB provides by default is nontrivial.

Default indexing for object arrays and dot notation for access to properties and methods enables user-defined objects to behave like built-in classes. For example, suppose that you define a class with a property called `Data`

that contains an array of numeric data.

This statement:

obj.Data(2,3)

Returns the value contained in the second row, third column of the array. If you have an array of objects, use an expression like:

objArray(3).Data(2,3)

This statement returns the value contained in the second row, third column of the third element in the array.

Modify the default indexing behavior when your class design requires behavior that is different from MATLAB default behavior.

MATLAB does not call class-defined `subsref`

or `subsasgn`

methods within the overloaded methods. Within class methods, MATLAB always calls the built-in `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

functions. This behavior occurs within the class-defined `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

methods too.

For example, within a class method, this dot reference:

obj.Prop

calls the built-in `subsref`

function. To call the class-defined `subsref`

method, use:

subsref(obj,substruct('.','Prop'))

Whenever a method requires the functionality of the class-defined `subsref`

or `subsasgn`

method, the class must call the overloaded methods as functions. Do not use the operators, `'()'`

, `'{}'`

, or `'.'`

.

For example, suppose that you define a class to represent polynomial. This class has a `subsref`

method that evaluates the polynomial with the value of the independent variable equal to the subscript. Assume that this statement defines the polynomial with its coefficients:

p = polynom([1 0 -2 -5]);

The MATLAB expression for the resulting polynomial is:

x^3 - 2*x - 5

This subscripted expression returns the value of the polynomial at `x = 3`

:

p(3)

ans = 16

Suppose that you want to use this feature in another class method. To do so, call the `subsref`

function directly. The `evalEqual`

method accepts two `polynom`

objects and a value at which to evaluate the polynomials:

methods function ToF = evalEqual(p1,p2,x) % Create arguments for subsref subs.type = '()'; subs.subs = {x}; % Need to call subsref explicitly y1 = subsref(p1,subs); y2 = subsref(p2,subs); if y1 == y2 ToF = true; else ToF = false; end end end

This behavior enables you to use standard MATLAB indexing to implement specialized behaviors. See Class with Modified Indexing for examples of how to use both built-in and class-modified indexing.

Because `subsref`

is a class method, it has access to private class members. Avoid inadvertently giving access to private methods and properties as you handle various types of reference. Consider this `subsref`

method defined for a class having private properties, `x`

and `y`

:

classdef MyPlot properties (Access = private) x y end properties Maximum Minimum Average end methods function obj = MyPlot(x,y) obj.x = x; obj.y = y; obj.Maximum = max(y); obj.Minimum = min(y); obj.Average = mean(y); end function B = subsref(A,S) switch S(1).type case '.' switch S(1).subs case 'plot' % Reference to A.x and A.y call built-in subsref B = plot(A.x,A.y); otherwise % Enable dot notation for all properties and methods B = A.(S.subs); end end end end end

This `subsref`

enables the use of dot notation to create a plot using the name `'plot'`

. The statement:

obj = MyPlot(1:10,1:10); h = obj.plot;

calls the `plot`

function and returns the handle to the graphics object.

You do not need to code each method and property name. The `otherwise`

code in the inner `switch`

block manages any name reference that you do not explicitly specify in `case`

statements. However, using this technique exposes any private and protected class members via dot notation. For example, you can reference the private property, `x`

, with this statement:

obj.x

ans = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The same issue applies to writing a `subsasgn`

method that enables assignment to private or protected properties. Your `subsref`

and `subsasgn`

methods might need to code each specific property and method name explicitly to avoid violating the class design.