Chapter 7

User-Defined Functions and Function Files

A simple function in mathematics, f(x), associates a unique number to each value of x. The function can be expressed in the form y = f(x), where f(x) is usually a mathematical expression in terms of x. A value of y (output) is obtained when a value of x (input) is substituted in the expression. Many functions are programmed inside MATLAB as built-in functions, and can be used in mathematical expressions simply by typing their name with an argument (see Section 1.5); examples are sin(x), cos(x), sqrt(x), and exp(x). Frequently, in computer programs, there is a need to calculate the value of functions that are not built in. When a function expression is simple and needs to be calculated only once, it can be typed as part of the program. However, when a function needs to be evaluated many times for different values of arguments, it is convenient to create a “user-defined” function. Once a user-defined function is created (saved) it can be used just like the built-in functions.

A user-defined function is a MATLAB program that is created by the user, saved as a function file, and then used like a built-in function. The function can be a simple single mathematical expression or a complicated and involved series of calculations. In many cases it is actually a subprogram within a computer program. The main feature of a function file is that it has an input and an output. This means that the calculations in the function file are carried ...

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