# diff

Differences and approximate derivatives

## Description

calculates
differences between adjacent elements of `Y`

= diff(`X`

)`X`

along
the first array dimension whose size does not equal 1:

If

`X`

is a vector of length`m`

, then`Y = diff(X)`

returns a vector of length`m-1`

. The elements of`Y`

are the differences between adjacent elements of`X`

.Y = [X(2)-X(1) X(3)-X(2) ... X(m)-X(m-1)]

If

`X`

is a nonempty, nonvector p-by-m matrix, then`Y = diff(X)`

returns a matrix of size (p-1)-by-m, whose elements are the differences between the rows of`X`

.Y = [X(2,:)-X(1,:); X(3,:)-X(2,:); ... X(p,:)-X(p-1,:)]

If

`X`

is a 0-by-0 empty matrix, then`Y = diff(X)`

returns a 0-by-0 empty matrix.

## Examples

### Differences Between Vector Elements

Create a vector, then compute the differences between the elements.

X = [1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21]; Y = diff(X)

`Y = `*1×7*
0 1 1 2 3 5 8

Note that `Y`

has one fewer element than `X`

.

### Differences Between Matrix Rows

Create a 3-by-3 matrix, then compute the first difference between the rows.

X = [1 1 1; 5 5 5; 25 25 25]; Y = diff(X)

`Y = `*2×3*
4 4 4
20 20 20

`Y`

is a 2-by-3 matrix.

### Multiple Differences

Create a vector and compute the second-order difference between the elements.

X = [0 5 15 30 50 75 105]; Y = diff(X,2)

`Y = `*1×5*
5 5 5 5 5

### Differences Between Matrix Columns

Create a 3-by-3 matrix, then compute the first-order difference between the columns.

X = [1 3 5;7 11 13;17 19 23]; Y = diff(X,1,2)

`Y = `*3×2*
2 2
4 2
2 4

`Y`

is a 3-by-2 matrix.

### Approximate Derivatives with diff

Use the `diff`

function to approximate partial derivatives with the syntax `Y = diff(f)/h`

, where `f`

is a vector of function values evaluated over some domain, `X`

, and `h`

is an appropriate step size.

For example, the first derivative of `sin(x)`

with respect to `x`

is `cos(x)`

, and the second derivative with respect to `x`

is `-sin(x)`

. You can use `diff`

to approximate these derivatives.

h = 0.001; % step size X = -pi:h:pi; % domain f = sin(X); % range Y = diff(f)/h; % first derivative Z = diff(Y)/h; % second derivative plot(X(:,1:length(Y)),Y,'r',X,f,'b', X(:,1:length(Z)),Z,'k')

In this plot the blue line corresponds to the original function, `sin`

. The red line corresponds to the calculated first derivative, `cos`

, and the black line corresponds to the calculated second derivative, `-sin`

.

### Differences Between Datetime Values

Create a sequence of equally-spaced datetime values, and find the time differences between them.

```
t1 = datetime('now');
t2 = t1 + minutes(5);
t = t1:minutes(1.5):t2
```

`t = `*1x4 datetime*
Columns 1 through 3
26-Feb-2022 12:12:08 26-Feb-2022 12:13:38 26-Feb-2022 12:15:08
Column 4
26-Feb-2022 12:16:38

dt = diff(t)

`dt = `*1x3 duration*
00:01:30 00:01:30 00:01:30

`diff`

returns a `duration`

array.

## Input Arguments

`X`

— Input array

vector | matrix | multidimensional array

Input array, specified as a vector, matrix, or multidimensional
array. `X`

can be a numeric array, logical array,
datetime array, or duration array.

**Complex Number Support: **Yes

`n`

— Difference order

positive integer scalar | `[]`

Difference order, specified as a positive integer scalar or `[]`

.
The default value of `n`

is 1.

It is possible to specify `n`

sufficiently
large so that `dim`

reduces to a single (```
size(X,dim)
= 1
```

) dimension. When this happens, `diff`

continues
calculating along the next array dimension whose size does not equal
1. This process continues until a 0-by-0 empty matrix is returned.

**Data Types: **`single`

| `double`

| `int8`

| `int16`

| `int32`

| `int64`

| `uint8`

| `uint16`

| `uint32`

| `uint64`

`dim`

— Dimension to operate along

positive integer scalar

Dimension to operate along, specified as a positive integer scalar. If you do not specify the dimension, then the default is the first array dimension of size greater than 1.

Consider a two-dimensional p-by-m input array, `A`

:

`diff(A,1,1)`

works on successive elements in the columns of`A`

and returns a (p-1)-by-m difference matrix.`diff(A,1,2)`

works on successive elements in the rows of`A`

and returns a p-by-(m-1) difference matrix.

**Data Types: **`double`

| `single`

| `int8`

| `int16`

| `int32`

| `int64`

| `uint8`

| `uint16`

| `uint32`

| `uint64`

## Output Arguments

`Y`

— Difference array

scalar | vector | matrix | multidimensional array

Difference array, returned as a scalar, vector, matrix, or multidimensional
array. If `X`

is a nonempty array, then the dimension
of `X`

acted on by `diff`

is reduced
in size by `n`

in the output.

## Extended Capabilities

### Tall Arrays

Calculate with arrays that have more rows than fit in memory.

This function supports tall arrays with the limitations:

You must use the three-input syntax `Y = diff(X,N,dim)`

.

For more information, see Tall Arrays.

### C/C++ Code Generation

Generate C and C++ code using MATLAB® Coder™.

Usage notes and limitations:

If supplied, the arguments representing the number of times to apply

`diff`

and the dimension along which to calculate the difference must be constants.See Variable-Sizing Restrictions for Code Generation of Toolbox Functions (MATLAB Coder).

Code generation does not support sparse matrix inputs for this function.

### Thread-Based Environment

Run code in the background using MATLAB® `backgroundPool`

or accelerate code with Parallel Computing Toolbox™ `ThreadPool`

.

This function fully supports thread-based environments. For more information, see Run MATLAB Functions in Thread-Based Environment.

### GPU Arrays

Accelerate code by running on a graphics processing unit (GPU) using Parallel Computing Toolbox™.

This function fully supports GPU arrays. For more information, see Run MATLAB Functions on a GPU (Parallel Computing Toolbox).

### Distributed Arrays

Partition large arrays across the combined memory of your cluster using Parallel Computing Toolbox™.

This function fully supports distributed arrays. For more information, see Run MATLAB Functions with Distributed Arrays (Parallel Computing Toolbox).

## Version History

**Introduced before R2006a**

### R2022a: Improved performance with large number of elements

The `diff`

function shows improved performance when operating on
vectors with at least 10^{5} elements or when operating
along the first or second dimension of matrices and multidimensional arrays with at
least 5 x 10^{5} elements.

For example, this code constructs a double with 2.5 x
10^{7} elements and calculates differences between
adjacent elements. It runs approximately 2.4x faster than in the previous
release:

function timingDiff rng default N = 5000; A = rand(N); tic for k = 1:40 D = diff(A); end toc end

The approximate execution times are:

**R2021b:** 2.43 s

**R2022a:** 1.00 s

The code was timed on a Windows^{®} 10, Intel^{®}
Xeon^{®} CPU E5-1650 v4 @ 3.60 GHz test system by calling the
`timingDiff`

function.

## Open Example

You have a modified version of this example. Do you want to open this example with your edits?

## MATLAB Command

You clicked a link that corresponds to this MATLAB command:

Run the command by entering it in the MATLAB Command Window. Web browsers do not support MATLAB commands.

# Select a Web Site

Choose a web site to get translated content where available and see local events and offers. Based on your location, we recommend that you select: .

You can also select a web site from the following list:

## How to Get Best Site Performance

Select the China site (in Chinese or English) for best site performance. Other MathWorks country sites are not optimized for visits from your location.

### Americas

- América Latina (Español)
- Canada (English)
- United States (English)

### Europe

- Belgium (English)
- Denmark (English)
- Deutschland (Deutsch)
- España (Español)
- Finland (English)
- France (Français)
- Ireland (English)
- Italia (Italiano)
- Luxembourg (English)

- Netherlands (English)
- Norway (English)
- Österreich (Deutsch)
- Portugal (English)
- Sweden (English)
- Switzerland
- United Kingdom (English)