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33.3 Indexing Objects

Objects can be indexed with parentheses, either like a (idx) or like a {idx}, or even like a (idx).field. However, it is up to the user to decide what this indexing actually means. In the case of our polynomial class p (n) might mean either the coefficient of the n-th power of the polynomial, or it might be the evaluation of the polynomial at n. The meaning of this subscripted referencing is determined by the subsref method.

Built-in Function: subsref (val, idx)

Perform the subscripted element selection operation according to the subscript specified by idx.

The subscript idx is expected to be a structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’. Valid values for ‘type’ are ‘"()"’, ‘"{}"’, and ‘"."’. The ‘subs’ field may be either ‘":"’ or a cell array of index values.

The following example shows how to extract the two first columns of a matrix

 
val = magic(3)
     ⇒ val = [ 8   1   6
                3   5   7
                4   9   2 ]
idx.type = "()";
idx.subs = {":", 1:2};
subsref(val, idx)
     ⇒ [ 8   1 
          3   5 
          4   9 ]

Note that this is the same as writing val(:,1:2).

See also: subsasgn, substruct.

For example we might decide that indexing with "()" evaluates the polynomial and indexing with "{}" returns the n-th coefficient (of n-th power). In this case the subsref method of our polynomial class might look like

The equivalent functionality for subscripted assignments uses the subsasgn method.

Built-in Function: subsasgn (val, idx, rhs)

Perform the subscripted assignment operation according to the subscript specified by idx.

The subscript idx is expected to be a structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’. Valid values for ‘type’ are ‘"()"’, ‘"{}"’, and ‘"."’. The ‘subs’ field may be either ‘":"’ or a cell array of index values.

The following example shows how to set the two first columns of a 3-by-3 matrix to zero.

 
val = magic(3);
idx.type = "()";
idx.subs = {":", 1:2};
subsasgn (val, idx, 0)
     ⇒ [ 0   0   6
          0   0   7
          0   0   2 ]

Note that this is the same as writing val(:,1:2) = 0.

See also: subsref, substruct.

Note that the subsref and subsasgn methods always receive the whole index chain, while they usually handle only the first element. It is the responsibility of these methods to handle the rest of the chain (if needed), usually by forwarding it again to subsref or subsasgn.

If you wish to use the end keyword in subscripted expressions of an object, then the user needs to define the end method for the class.

For example the end method for our polynomial class might look like

which is a fairly generic end method that has a behavior similar to the end keyword for Octave Array classes. It can then be used for example like

 
p = polynomial([1,2,3,4]);
p(end-1)
⇒ 3

Objects can also be used as the index in a subscripted expression themselves and this is controlled with the subsindex function.

Function File: idx = subsindex (a)

Convert an object to an index vector. When a is a class object defined with a class constructor, then subsindex is the overloading method that allows the conversion of this class object to a valid indexing vector. It is important to note that subsindex must return a zero-based real integer vector of the class "double". For example, if the class constructor

 
function b = myclass (a)
 b = myclass (struct ("a", a), "myclass");
endfunction

then the subsindex function

 
function idx = subsindex (a)
 idx = double (a.a) - 1.0;
endfunction

can then be used as follows

 
a = myclass (1:4);
b = 1:10;
b(a)
⇒ 1  2  3  4

See also: class, subsref, subsasgn.

Finally, objects can equally be used like ranges, using the colon method

Function File: r = colon (a, b)
Function File: r = colon (a, b, c)

Method of a class to construct a range with the : operator. For example.

 
a = myclass (…)
b = myclass (…)
c = a : b

See also: class, subsref, subsasgn.


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