Mastering Vector Manipulations in MATLAB - Combining Vectors Explained in Detail with Examples

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of vector combinations in MATLAB. We’ll explain various methods to manipulate vectors, highlight their uses in different contexts, and provide …

Updated November 22, 2023

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In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of vector combinations in MATLAB. We’ll explain various methods to manipulate vectors, highlight their uses in different contexts, and provide illustrative code examples that demonstrate these concepts effectively. MATLAB is a powerful platform for scientific computing and engineering applications, so knowing how to combine vectors will significantly enhance your ability to tackle complex computational problems.


Vector manipulation plays a crucial role in various scientific disciplines, and understanding its fundamental concepts can help you tackle numerous challenges in data analysis, signal processing, machine learning, and other domains. MATLAB offers a wide range of built-in functions to efficiently work with vectors, enabling the creation of complex algorithms and data processing pipelines. Combining vectors allows us to aggregate, merge, or perform arithmetic operations on different sets of values for further computations.

In this article, we’ll focus on explaining the intricacies of vector combination in MATLAB, along with real-world use cases. We will explore several approaches to merging vectors and delve into their underlying principles. By the end of this guide, you will have a strong grasp on how to effectively manipulate vectors within the MATLAB environment for a wide variety of applications.

Methods of Combining Vectors in MATLAB

There are various methods to combine vectors in MATLAB: concatenation, addition/subtraction, and logical operations. Each approach serves a unique purpose and will be discussed in detail below, along with their respective syntax. We will also provide several code samples to illustrate the concepts clearly.

  1. Concatenation: Combining vectors horizontally or vertically by appending one vector to another, either column-wise (horizontal) or row-wise (vertical).
  2. Addition/Subtraction: Performing arithmetic operations such as addition and subtraction between vectors. This operation is typically used in signal processing and mathematical analysis.
  3. Logical Operations: Employing boolean expressions to compare elements within one or more vectors, yielding a new vector that represents the results of these comparisons.

Combining Vectors Horizontally (Concatenation)

Horizontal concatenation in MATLAB involves joining two or more vectors column-wise and is typically referred to as “concatenate” or “+”. This operation can be applied to both numeric and character vectors. Consider the following code:

% Define vector a with elements {1, 2}
a = [1 2];

% Define vector b with elements {3, 4}
b = [3 4];

% Perform horizontal concatenation between vectors a and b
c = a + b;

In this example, the resultant vector ‘c’ would contain the elements {1,2,3,4}, where the vectors ‘a’ and ‘b’ are combined column-wise. The code provided is generalized for any number of input vectors – it simply adds them up horizontally, stacking all the values together.

Note that for character vectors, concatenation results in a string composed of the original strings. This process can be beneficial when working with textual data sets or manipulating character matrices.

Combining Vectors Vertically (Concatenation)

Vertical concatenation, commonly referred to as “vcat” or “[],”, combines vectors row-wise and is often used in signal processing and image analysis where we need to merge multi-dimensional data structures. This technique works with both numeric and character vector types. An example code snippet would be:

% Define two numeric vectors, a = [1 2] and b = [3 4]
a = [1 2];
b = [3 4];

% Perform vertical concatenation between the vectors using the vcat function
c = vcat(a, b);

The resultant vector ‘c’ would have the elements {1 2; 3 4}, where vectors ‘a’ and ‘b’ are combined row-wise. In this case, each element in the resulting vector is a separate vector or row of data.

Addition/Subtraction of Vectors

Addition and subtraction between vectors can be accomplished by using the “+” and “-” operators. This operation combines each element of two corresponding vectors, typically employed when performing arithmetic calculations with signal processing, linear algebra, or numerical analysis tasks. Consider the following example:

% Define two numeric vectors, a = [1 2] and b = [-3 -4]
a = [1 2];
b = [-3 -4];

% Add vector a to vector b using '+' operator
c = a + b;

% Subtract vector a from vector b using '-' operator
d = a - b;

In this code, the resulting vectors ‘c’ and ’d' would contain the elements {4 0}, {2 6} respectively. The “+” operation adds the corresponding elements of vectors ‘a’ and ‘b’, whereas the “-” operation subtracts vector ‘b’ from vector ‘a’.

Logical Operations on Vectors

Logical operations in MATLAB use boolean expressions to compare elements within one or more vectors. They are particularly helpful when performing data validation, element-wise comparisons, and conditional statements. There are three primary logical operators: “logical_and”, “logical_or”, and “logical_not”.

For instance:

% Define a numeric vector, a = [2 3]
a = [2 3];

% Create a comparison using the logical 'and' operator
b = (a == 2); % {true false}

% Apply a logical 'or' operation to another comparison
c = (a ~= 2) | (a < 4); % {false true}

In this code, we have created vectors ‘b’ and ‘c’, which contain the results of conditional comparisons. The logical operations allow us to analyze elements within a vector for specific conditions, such as equality, inequality, or satisfaction of certain constraints.


Understanding how to combine vectors in MATLAB is essential for performing various types of analysis and computations effectively. These techniques can be used across numerous domains such as signal processing, computer vision, machine learning, and other scientific computing applications. By mastering vector manipulation and implementing these approaches within your workflow, you will have a robust set of tools to tackle complex problems in data-driven environments.