## Using bsxfun for non-numeric data

### John Doe (view profile)

on 13 Jun 2013
Latest activity Commented on by Matt J

### Matt J (view profile)

on 20 Nov 2019 at 14:29

### Matt J (view profile)

Is there an equivalent to bsxfun for non-numeric data?
For example, I want to compare all pairs of strings stored in two cell-arrays:
a = {'aa', 'bb', 'cc'};
b = {'dd', 'aa'};
bsxfun( @strcmp, a, b' ); % not working for cells
I want something like this:
bsxfun(@eq, 1:3, (1:4)')
ans =
1 0 0
0 1 0
0 0 1
0 0 0

on 13 Jun 2013
Edited by Matt J

### Matt J (view profile)

on 13 Jun 2013

Here's a way you could still do the comparison in the "string domain",
>> ia=(1:length(a)).'; ib=1:length(b);
>> a=a(:);
>> bsxfun(@(i,j) strcmp( a(i),b(j) ) ,ia, ib)
ans =
0 1
0 0
0 0

### Sean de Wolski (view profile)

on 13 Jun 2013

Yes, bsxfun only supports numeric datatypes.
Here's the workaround I would take: Use unique to convert to numbers and eq as the comparison:
a = {'aa', 'bb', 'cc'};
b = {'dd', 'aa'};
[~,~,idx] = unique([a(:); b(:)],'stable'); %equal numbers instead of strings
ee = bsxfun(@eq,idx(1:numel(a))',idx(numel(a)+1:end));

David Young

### David Young (view profile)

on 20 Nov 2019 at 11:56
It seems like a completely unnecessary restriction for bsxfun to only accept numeric arrays - the function passed as the first argument must surely do its own checking anyway. The trick of using unique is neat, but it's a real shame it's necessary, and it's still not general. You could make bsxfun more powerful simply by taking out the check. All that's needed is that the results can be assembled into an array as arrayfun does.

### Steven Lord (view profile)

on 20 Nov 2019 at 14:22

For this specific example, you can now take advantage of implicit expansion and the string type.
>> a = {'aa', 'bb', 'cc'};
>> b = {'dd', 'aa'};
>> string(a) == string(b).'
ans =
2×3 logical array
0 0 0
1 0 0

Matt J

### Matt J (view profile)

on 20 Nov 2019 at 14:29
Didn't know that implicit expansion applies to non-numeric types! That should get more documentation.