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Array Comparison with Relational Operators

Relational operators compare operands quantitatively, using operators like "less than", "greater than", and "not equal to." The result of a relational comparison is a logical array indicating the locations where the relation is true.

These are the relational operators in MATLAB®.

SymbolFunction EquivalentDescription

Less than


Less than or equal to


Greater than


Greater than or equal to


Equal to


Not equal to

Array Comparison

Numeric Arrays

The relational operators perform element-wise comparisons between two arrays. The arrays must be the same size, or one can be a scalar.

For example, if you compare two matrices of the same size, then the result is a logical matrix of the same size with elements indicating where the relation is true.

A = [2 4 6; 8 10 12]
A =

     2     4     6
     8    10    12
B = [5 5 5; 9 9 9]
B =

     5     5     5
     9     9     9
A < B
ans =

     1     1     0
     1     0     0

Similarly, you can compare one of the arrays to a scalar.

A > 7
ans =

     0     0     0
     1     1     1

Empty Arrays

The relational operators work with arrays for which any dimension has size zero. If one array has a dimension size of zero, then the other array must either be the same size or be a scalar. The size of that dimension in the output is also zero.

A = ones(3,0);
A == 1
ans =

   Empty matrix: 3-by-0

However, expressions such as

A == []

return an error if A is not 0-by-0 or 1-by-1. This behavior is consistent with that of all other binary operators, such as +, -, >, <, &, |, and so on.

To test for empty arrays, use isempty(A).

Complex Numbers

  • The operators >, <, >=, and <= use only the real part of the operands in performing comparisons.

  • The operators == and ~= test both real and imaginary parts of the operands.

Inf, NaN, NaT, and undefined Element Comparisons

  • Inf values are equal to other Inf values.

  • NaN values are not equal to any other numeric value, including other NaN values.

  • NaT values are not equal to any other datetime value, including other NaT values.

  • Undefined categorical elements are not equal to any other categorical value, including other undefined elements.

Logic Statements

Use relational operators in conjunction with the logical operators A & B (AND), A | B (OR), xor(A,B) (XOR), and ~A (NOT), to string together more complex logical statements.

For example, you can locate where negative elements occur in two arrays.

A = [2 -1; -3 10]
A =

     2    -1
    -3    10
B = [0 -2; -3 -1]
B =

     0    -2
    -3    -1
A<0 & B<0
ans =

     0     1
     1     0

For more examples, see Find Array Elements That Meet a Condition.

See Also

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