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How do I force MATLAB treat my variable 'range' as a variable instead of a function ?

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I am doing a project for my sponsor. In the data he gives me, there is a matrix called 'range'. When I use this variable 'range' in my own function, MATLAB always treats it as its build-in function and gives me error. Since I cannot ask my sponsor to change the name of the variable, is there a way to force MATLAB treat 'range' as a variable ?


Stephen Cobeldick
Stephen Cobeldick on 3 May 2017
  1. Never simply load into the workspace and make variables magically appear in the workspace. Always load into an output argument (which is a structure): S = load(...);
  2. Do not use the variable name range. Always use which to check if a name is already in use.
Note that if you had load-ed into a structure then this issue would never have occurred!

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Accepted Answer

Steven Lord
Steven Lord on 2 May 2017
I suspect you're loading the variable into the workspace via load or eval, right? That's known as "poofing" a variable into the workspace. To avoid this:
  1. Whenever I call load inside a function, I almost always call it with an output argument. This will make the output argument become a struct array with one field per variable in the MAT-file, which I can index using normal dot notation.
  2. If you cannot call load with an output, make sure in your code (prior to calling load) that you assign a value to the variable. That will tell the MATLAB parser that the identifier must be a variable, not a function, in your code and it will treat it as such.

  1 Comment

Firepanda415 on 2 May 2017
You are right. I call load() in my function. Sorry I did not mention it in the description. Let me try your method.

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More Answers (1)

Alessandro on 2 May 2017
Simply create a copy of the variable assigning a different name?


Firepanda415 on 2 May 2017
As long as I use 'range' in my function, MATLAB will think I am calling its built-in function range()
Alessandro on 2 May 2017
I still don't understand the problem, as long as the 'range' variable is correctly indicized in the function. The following MWE works for me:
function [ range ] = test( range )
range = 2*range;
if I call
range = [1 2;3 4];
range = test(range)
from the workspace the result is
range =
2 4
6 8
Firepanda415 on 2 May 2017
Sorry I did not make myself clear. I load a .mat which contains 'range' in my function, so it is a different situation.

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