How to Return a Variable in MATLAB: A Comprehensive Guide

Matlab is a powerful programming language and environment used in various fields, including mathematics, engineering, and data analysis. When working with Matlab functions, you often need to return variables or values from those functions to use in other parts of your code. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore different ways on how to return variable matlab and provide examples to illustrate each method.

Using the ‘return’ Statement

One common way to return a variable in Matlab is by using the ‘return’ statement within a function. Here’s a simple example:

function result = calculateSum(a, b)
    result = a + b;

In this example, the ‘calculateSum’ function takes two input arguments ‘a’ and ‘b’ and calculates their sum. The ‘result’ variable is used to store the sum, and the ‘return’ statement is used to return the value of ‘result’ to the caller of the function.

Using Multiple Output Arguments

Matlab allows you to return multiple variables or values from a function using multiple output arguments. Here’s an example:

function [sumResult, productResult] = calculateSumAndProduct(a, b)
    sumResult = a + b;
    productResult = a * b;

In this example, the ‘calculateSumAndProduct’ function returns both the sum and product of ‘a’ and ‘b’ as separate output arguments. You can call this function like this:

[aSum, aProduct] = calculateSumAndProduct(3, 5);

Now, ‘aSum’ will contain the sum (8), and ‘aProduct’ will contain the product (15).

Using Global Variables

Another way to return variables in Matlab is by using global variables. While not recommended for complex programs, you can define a global variable within a function and access it outside the function. Here’s an example:

function setGlobalVar()
    global myVar;
    myVar = 42;

In this example, ‘myVar’ is declared as a global variable inside the ‘setGlobalVar’ function and assigned the value 42. You can access ‘myVar’ from other parts of your Matlab code after calling ‘setGlobalVar’.

how to return variable matlab

Using the ‘assignin’ Function

The ‘assignin’ function allows you to assign a value to a variable in a specific workspace. You can use it to return a variable from a function to the base workspace. Here’s an example:

function returnToBaseWorkspace()
    result = 123;
    assignin('base', 'returnedValue', result);

In this example, ‘result’ is assigned the value 123, and the ‘assignin’ function is used to return ‘result’ to the base workspace with the variable name ‘returnedValue’.


In Matlab, there are several ways to return variables from functions, each with its own use case. You can use the ‘return’ statement, multiple output arguments, global variables, or the ‘assignin’ function, depending on your specific requirements. Choose the method that best suits your needs and programming style to make your Matlab code more efficient and readable.

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