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6.2.5 Processing Data in Cell Arrays

Data that is stored in a cell array can be processed in several ways depending on the actual data. The simplest way to process that data is to iterate through it using one or more for loops. The same idea can be implemented more easily through the use of the cellfun function that calls a user-specified function on all elements of a cell array.

Loadable Function: cellfun (name, c)
Loadable Function: cellfun ("size", c, k)
Loadable Function: cellfun ("isclass", c, class)
Loadable Function: cellfun (func, c)
Loadable Function: cellfun (func, c, d)
Loadable Function: [a, b] = cellfun (…)
Loadable Function: cellfun (…, 'ErrorHandler', errfunc)
Loadable Function: cellfun (…, 'UniformOutput', val)

Evaluate the function named name on the elements of the cell array c. Elements in c are passed on to the named function individually. The function name can be one of the functions


Return 1 for empty elements.


Return 1 for logical elements.


Return 1 for real elements.


Return a vector of the lengths of cell elements.


Return the number of dimensions of each element.


Return the product of dimensions of each element.


Return the size along the k-th dimension.


Return 1 for elements of class.

Additionally, cellfun accepts an arbitrary function func in the form of an inline function, function handle, or the name of a function (in a character string). In the case of a character string argument, the function must accept a single argument named x, and it must return a string value. The function can take one or more arguments, with the inputs args given by c, d, etc. Equally the function can return one or more output arguments. For example

cellfun (@atan2, {1, 0}, {0, 1})
⇒ans = [1.57080   0.00000]

Note that the default output argument is an array of the same size as the input arguments.

If the parameter 'UniformOutput' is set to true (the default), then the function must return a single element which will be concatenated into the return value. If 'UniformOutput' is false, the outputs are concatenated in a cell array. For example

cellfun ("tolower(x)", {"Foo", "Bar", "FooBar"},
⇒ ans = {"foo", "bar", "foobar"}

Given the parameter 'ErrorHandler', then errfunc defines a function to call in case func generates an error. The form of the function is

function […] = errfunc (s, …)

where there is an additional input argument to errfunc relative to func, given by s. This is a structure with the elements 'identifier', 'message' and 'index', giving respectively the error identifier, the error message, and the index into the input arguments of the element that caused the error. For example

function y = foo (s, x), y = NaN; endfunction
cellfun (@factorial, {-1,2},'ErrorHandler',@foo)
⇒ ans = [NaN 2]

See also: isempty, islogical, isreal, length, ndims, numel, size.

An alternative is to convert the data to a different container, such as a matrix or a data structure. Depending on the data this is possible using the cell2mat and cell2struct functions.

Function File: m = cell2mat (c)

Convert the cell array c into a matrix by concatenating all elements of c into a hyperrectangle. Elements of c must be numeric, logical or char, and cat must be able to concatenate them together.

See also: mat2cell, num2cell.

Built-in Function: cell2struct (cell, fields, dim)

Convert cell to a structure. The number of fields in fields must match the number of elements in cell along dimension dim, that is numel (fields) == size (cell, dim).

A = cell2struct ({'Peter', 'Hannah', 'Robert';
                   185, 170, 168},
                 {'Name','Height'}, 1);
⇒ ans =
        Height = 185
        Name   = Peter

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