Main Content

You can create function handles to named and anonymous functions. You can store multiple function handles in an array, and save and load them, as you would any other variable.

A function handle is a MATLAB^{®} data type that stores an
association to a function. Indirectly calling a function enables you
to invoke the function regardless of where you call it from. Typical
uses of function handles include:

Passing a function to another function (often called

*function functions*). For example, passing a function to integration and optimization functions, such as`integral`

and`fzero`

.Specifying callback functions (for example, a callback that responds to a UI event or interacts with data acquisition hardware).

Constructing handles to functions defined inline instead of stored in a program file (anonymous functions).

Calling local functions from outside the main function.

You can see if a variable, `h`

, is a function
handle using `isa`

`(h,'function_handle')`

.

To create a handle for a function, precede the function name
with an `@`

sign. For example, if you have a function
called `myfunction`

, create a handle named `f`

as
follows:

f = @myfunction;

You call a function using a handle the same way you call the
function directly. For example, suppose that you have a function named `computeSquare`

,
defined as:

function y = computeSquare(x) y = x.^2; end

Create a handle and call the function to compute the square of four.

f = @computeSquare; a = 4; b = f(a)

b = 16

If the function does not require any inputs, then you can call the function with empty parentheses, such as

h = @ones; a = h()

a = 1

Without the parentheses, the assignment creates another function handle.

a = h

a = @ones

Function handles are variables that you can pass to other functions.
For example, calculate the integral of *x*^{2} on
the range [0,1].

q = integral(f,0,1);

Function handles store their absolute path, so when you have a valid handle, you can invoke the function from any location. You do not have to specify the path to the function when creating the handle, only the function name.

Keep the following in mind when creating handles to functions:

Name length — Each part of the function name (including package and class names) must be less than the number specified by

`namelengthmax`

. Otherwise, MATLAB truncates the latter part of the name.Scope — The function must be in scope at the time you create the handle. Therefore, the function must be on the MATLAB path or in the current folder. Or, for handles to local or nested functions, the function must be in the current file.

Precedence — When there are multiple functions with the same name, MATLAB uses the same precedence rules to define function handles as it does to call functions. For more information, see Function Precedence Order.

Overloading — When a function handle is invoked with one or more arguments, MATLAB determines the dominant argument. If the dominant argument is an object, MATLAB determines if the object’s class has a method which overloads the same name as the function handle’s associated function. If it does, then the object’s method is invoked instead of the associated function.

You can create handles to anonymous functions. An anonymous
function is a one-line expression-based MATLAB function that
does not require a program file. Construct a handle to an anonymous
function by defining the body of the function, `anonymous_function`

,
and a comma-separated list of input arguments to the anonymous function, `arglist`

.
The syntax is:

h = @(arglist)anonymous_function

For example, create a handle, `sqr`

, to an
anonymous function that computes the square of a number, and call
the anonymous function using its handle.

sqr = @(n) n.^2; x = sqr(3)

x = 9

For more information, see Anonymous Functions.

You can create an array of function handles by collecting them into a cell or structure array. For example, use a cell array:

C = {@sin, @cos, @tan}; C{2}(pi)

ans = -1

Or use a structure array:

S.a = @sin; S.b = @cos; S.c = @tan; S.a(pi/2)

ans = 1

You can save and load function handles in MATLAB, as you
would any other variable. In other words, use the `save`

and `load`

functions.
If you save a function handle, MATLAB does not save the path
information. If you load a function handle, and the function file
no longer exists on the path, the handle is invalid. An invalid handle
occurs if the file location or file name has changed since you created
the handle. If a handle is invalid, MATLAB might display a warning
when you load the file. When you invoke an invalid handle, MATLAB issues
an error.

`str2func`

| `func2str`

| `functions`

| `isa`

| `function_handle`