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34.3.1 Defining Indexing And Indexed Assignment

Objects can be indexed with parentheses, either like a (idx) or like a {idx}, or even like a (idx).field. However, it is up to the user to decide what this indexing actually means. In the case of our polynomial class p (n) might mean either the coefficient of the n-th power of the polynomial, or it might be the evaluation of the polynomial at n. The meaning of this subscripted referencing is determined by the subsref method.

Built-in Function: subsref (val, idx)

Perform the subscripted element selection operation according to the subscript specified by idx.

The subscript idx is expected to be a structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’. Valid values for ‘type’ are ‘"()"’, ‘"{}"’, and ‘"."’. The ‘subs’ field may be either ‘":"’ or a cell array of index values.

The following example shows how to extract the two first columns of a matrix

val = magic (3)
    ⇒ val = [ 8   1   6
               3   5   7
               4   9   2 ]
idx.type = "()";
idx.subs = {":", 1:2};
subsref (val, idx)
     ⇒ [ 8   1
          3   5
          4   9 ]

Note that this is the same as writing val(:,1:2).

If idx is an empty structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’, return val.

See also: subsasgn, substruct.

For example we might decide that indexing with "()" evaluates the polynomial and indexing with "{}" returns the n-th coefficient (of n-th power). In this case the subsref method of our polynomial class might look like

function b = subsref (a, s)
  if (isempty (s))
    error ("polynomial: missing index");
  endif
  switch (s(1).type)
    case "()"
      ind = s(1).subs;
      if (numel (ind) != 1)
        error ("polynomial: need exactly one index");
      else
        b = polyval (fliplr (a.poly), ind{1});
      endif
    case "{}"
      ind = s(1).subs;
      if (numel (ind) != 1)
        error ("polynomial: need exactly one index");
      else
        if (isnumeric (ind{1}))
          b = a.poly(ind{1}+1);
        else
          b = a.poly(ind{1});
        endif
      endif
    case "."
      fld = s.subs;
      if (strcmp (fld, "poly"))
        b = a.poly;
      else
        error ("@polynomial/subsref: invalid property \"%s\"", fld);
      endif
    otherwise
      error ("invalid subscript type");
  endswitch
  if (numel (s) > 1)
    b = subsref (b, s(2:end));
  endif
endfunction

The equivalent functionality for subscripted assignments uses the subsasgn method.

Built-in Function: subsasgn (val, idx, rhs)

Perform the subscripted assignment operation according to the subscript specified by idx.

The subscript idx is expected to be a structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’. Valid values for ‘type’ are ‘"()"’, ‘"{}"’, and ‘"."’. The ‘subs’ field may be either ‘":"’ or a cell array of index values.

The following example shows how to set the two first columns of a 3-by-3 matrix to zero.

val = magic (3);
idx.type = "()";
idx.subs = {":", 1:2};
subsasgn (val, idx, 0)
     ⇒  [ 0   0   6
           0   0   7
           0   0   2 ]

Note that this is the same as writing val(:,1:2) = 0.

If idx is an empty structure array with fields ‘type’ and ‘subs’, return rhs.

See also: subsref, substruct.

Built-in Function: val = optimize_subsasgn_calls ()
Built-in Function: old_val = optimize_subsasgn_calls (new_val)
Built-in Function: optimize_subsasgn_calls (new_val, "local")

Query or set the internal flag for subsasgn method call optimizations. If true, Octave will attempt to eliminate the redundant copying when calling subsasgn method of a user-defined class.

When called from inside a function with the "local" option, the variable is changed locally for the function and any subroutines it calls. The original variable value is restored when exiting the function.

Note that the subsref and subsasgn methods always receive the whole index chain, while they usually handle only the first element. It is the responsibility of these methods to handle the rest of the chain (if needed), usually by forwarding it again to subsref or subsasgn.

If you wish to use the end keyword in subscripted expressions of an object, then the user needs to define the end method for the class. For example, the end method for our polynomial class might look like

function r = end (obj, index_pos, num_indices)

  if (num_indices != 1)
    error ("polynomial object may only have one index")
  endif
  
  r = length (obj.poly) - 1;

endfunction

which is a fairly generic end method that has a behavior similar to the end keyword for Octave Array classes. It can then be used as follows:

p = polynomial ([1,2,3,4]);
p(end-1)
  ⇒ 3

Objects can also be used as the index in a subscripted expression themselves and this is controlled with the subsindex function.

Function File: idx = subsindex (a)

Convert an object to an index vector. When a is a class object defined with a class constructor, then subsindex is the overloading method that allows the conversion of this class object to a valid indexing vector. It is important to note that subsindex must return a zero-based real integer vector of the class "double". For example, if the class constructor

function b = myclass (a)
  b = class (struct ("a", a), "myclass");
endfunction

then the subsindex function

function idx = subsindex (a)
  idx = double (a.a) - 1.0;
endfunction

can then be used as follows

a = myclass (1:4);
b = 1:10;
b(a)
⇒ 1  2  3  4

See also: class, subsref, subsasgn.

Finally, objects can equally be used like ranges, using the colon method

Function File: r = colon (a, b)
Function File: r = colon (a, b, c)

Method of a class to construct a range with the : operator. For example:

a = myclass (…);
b = myclass (…);
c = a : b

See also: class, subsref, subsasgn.


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