2  MATLAB Basics 1
2  MATLAB Basics
This chapter discusses some basic features of MATLAB programming, including
1. Arithmetic operations
2. Variable assignment
3. Arrays
MATLAB as a calculator
MATLAB is an
interpreter
. That means you can type text to it and receive output right
away, like a pocket calculator. By contrast, FORTRAN, C, and Java require you to
compile your program before you can run it.
To begin this discussion, let’s assume we are purchasing rolling stock for a railroad
company. We buy 4 tanker cars at a cost of $25.5K each, 6 box cars at a cost of $22K
each and 2 refrigeration cars at a cost of $50K each. To compute our total cost for this
purchase, we could use MATLAB like we would a handheld calculator; in the
MATLAB command window, we’d enter the following at the prompt (
>>
):
>> 4 * 25.5 + 6 * 22 + 2 * 50
and the monitor would display
ans =
334
The number
334
is our cost (expressed in units of $1,000). It is called a
constant
. The
ans
(short for answer) is a
variable
. The constant
334
is
assigned
to the variable
ans
by the
equal sign. The variable name
ans
is what MATLAB uses as a default
output
variable.
ans
is actually a reference to the memory address where
334
is stored for our use
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 Spring '08
 Patzek
 matlab, Newcost

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