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A.2.2 Working with Matrices and Arrays in Mex-Files

The basic mex type of all variables is mxArray. All variables, such as matrices, cell arrays or structures are all stored in this basic type, and this type serves basically the same purpose as the octave_value class in oct-files. That is it acts as a container for the more specialized types.

The mxArray structure contains at a minimum, the variable it represents name, its dimensions, its type and whether the variable is real or complex. It can however contain a number of additional fields depending on the type of the mxArray. There are a number of functions to create mxArray structures, including mxCreateCellArray, mxCreateSparse and the generic mxCreateNumericArray.

The basic functions to access the data contained in an array is mxGetPr. As the mex interface assumes that the real and imaginary parts of a complex array are stored separately, there is an equivalent function mxGetPi that get the imaginary part. Both of these functions are for use only with double precision matrices. There also exists the generic function mxGetData and mxGetImagData that perform the same operation on all matrix types. For example

mxArray *m;
mwSize *dims;
UINT32_T *pr;

dims = (mwSize *) mxMalloc (2 * sizeof(mwSize));
dims[0] = 2;
dims[1] = 2;
m = mxCreateNumericArray (2, dims, mxUINT32_CLASS, mxREAL);
pr =  = (UINT32_T *) mxGetData (m);

There are also the functions mxSetPr, etc., that perform the inverse, and set the data of an Array to use the block of memory pointed to by the argument of mxSetPr.

Note the type mwSize used above, and mwIndex are defined as the native precision of the indexing in Octave on the platform on which the mex-file is built. This allows both 32- and 64-bit platforms to support mex-files. mwSize is used to define array dimension and maximum number or elements, while mwIndex is used to define indexing into arrays.

An example that demonstration how to work with arbitrary real or complex double precision arrays is given by the file ‘mypow2.c’ as given below.

with an example of its use

b = randn(4,1) + 1i * randn(4,1);
all(b.^2 == mypow2(b))
⇒ 1

The example above uses the functions mxGetDimensions, mxGetNumberOfElements, and mxGetNumberOfDimensions to work with the dimensions of multi-dimensional arrays. The functions mxGetM, and mxGetN are also available to find the number of rows and columns in a matrix.

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