# Matlab Strings

The computing term "character string" refers to collections of characters that are handled by a computer program as an array. More particularly to Matlab, a character string is a vector of characters. Let's look at examples.

>> c = 'a'

assigns the single alphabetical character 'a' to a variable
called `c`. By contrast,

>> c = 'alphabet 1'

assigns a collection of characters to a variable `c`.
The variable `c` must necessarily be a vector in order to
handle that collection, which means that we can refer to
particular entries in that vector by index:

>> c(2) ans = l >> c(4) ans = h

Thus, the code `c = 'alphabet 1'` is completely
equivalent to

>> c=['a' 'l' 'p' 'h' 'a' 'b' 'e' 't' ' ' '1'] c = alphabet 1

Each character is actually represented in the computer by an integer, with the alphabetical interpretation only happening when the string is printed to a screen or page. Thus, each string could equally well be viewed as a vector of integers. Indeed, we can add strings.

>> d='alphabet 2' d = alphabet 2 >> c+d ans = 194 216 224 208 194 196 202 232 64 99

Note that the addition took place elementwise. Thus, we see that
'1' + '2' = 99. The way to understand this is that characters
are associated with 'ASCII codes': the integers that represent them.
Thus the number 1 as an integer is represented in the computer by
an integer 1, but the *character* '1' is represented by the
integer 49. The character '2' has ASCII code 50, so that
'1' + '2' = 49 + 50 = 99. In the same way, you can see that the
ASCII code for 'a' is 97, and the ASCII code for the space
character is 32.

Often you will want include the results of computations in label or title strings. To do that, you must first convert the numbers to character strings, and then concatenate them to your label string. For example, consider making a label string that gives the second eigenvalue of a certain matrix.

>> A=[1 1; 2 1] A = 1 1 2 1 >> lam=eig(A) lam = 2.4142 -0.4142 >> mylabel = ['The second eigenvalue of A is ' num2str(lam(2))] mylabel = The second eigenvalue of A is -0.41421

There are several things happening here. First, observe that we use
the function `num2str` to convert the floating point number
in the variable `lam(2)` to a string. Second, we append
the resulting string for that number to the text
'The second...' by putting them both in a vector together.
Note that `lam(2)`, being a number, only took up one
storage location, i.e. one entry in the vector `lam`.
By contrast, when we convert that number to a string, it
takes up eight storage locations.

>> num = lam(2) num = -0.4142 >> length(num) ans = 1 >> str = num2str(lam(2)) str = -0.41421 >> length(str) ans = 8

Obviously the first character in `str` is '-', the second
is '0', and so on. Note that the string we got from `num2str`
contains one more digit of the number than was displayed in the
floating point version. This is because Matlab does not always
display all the digits of a floating point number, so there are
some extra formatting defaults that occur in both numeric
and string representations.

Consult the Matlab documentation for more details of this and related matters.

A solution for the
final is available.