Generic Variable Names and Cell Arrays

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Sven on 24 Nov 2014
Commented: Image Analyst on 29 Nov 2014
Hello, need to plot different plots, with data delivered in vectors named like:
y_ea, y_eb, c_ea, c_eb, ...
I store the two components of those names before execution in two cellarrays:
thus there are 16 combinations in this case, each one a vector I want to plot. My current solution is using eval but I often read not to use eval but use cellarrays instead. So how do I tackle my problem with cellarrays? Here my current solution with eval:
for r=1:length(response)
for i=1:length(impulse)
str_plot_name = [response{r} '_' impulse{i}]
eval(['plot(' str_plot_name ');'])
thx for any help.

Accepted Answer

Guillaume on 24 Nov 2014
The reasons that using eval is frowned upon is that
  1. you don't get automatic syntax check in the body of the eval,
  2. it can't be compiled by the JIT compiler,
  3. more importantly your code depends on variable names over which you have no control. There's no obvious link between the two codes, so if one of the variable is renamed in the other code, it may not be obvious what needs to change in your code.
Thorsten's answer is indeed the approach you should take. If you're stuck with hardcoded variable names, then you have no choice but using eval.
I would use sprintf instead of string concatenation though. I find it easier to read:
str_plot_name = sprintf('%s_%s, response{r}, impulse{i});
eval(sprintf('plot(%s)', str_plot_name));

More Answers (1)

Thorsten on 24 Nov 2014
Edited: Thorsten on 26 Nov 2014
You should avoid organizing your data by using 16 different variables. Instead, you can use a 3D matrix M(r,i,:) where r runs from 1 to 4, corresponding to your responses 'y', 'c', 'k' and 'w' and i runs from 1 to 4, corresponding to your impulses 'ea', 'eb', 'em', 'ew'. Then you can use in your two for loops
  1 Comment
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 29 Nov 2014
Sven's comment to Thorsten moved here, instead of being an Answer:
The data comes from another script, thus I can't change how its organized. Would have liked more 3D Matrix-form, but have to handle it this way. So I would still need an answer here.
But I didn't know the one line loop form with a matrix so thx for that already.

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