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Pause function in matlab for 1 millisecond

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Juan on 8 May 2012
Edited: Walter Roberson on 18 Mar 2020
I need to pause my matlab program at GUI, because I'm using serial communication, but when I use pause command it only allows me to pause it for 0.01 seconds.
pause(0.01) %in seconds
The thing I need, for example:
pause(0.001) %in seconds, but actually doesn't works
Anyone knows how to pause matlab for 1 millisecond? Thanks for read and answer.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 17 Jan 2017
Pause is on by default.
On MS Windows, the resolution is only 0.01 seconds and using "pause on" does not change that.

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Answers (10)

AndreasDerFuchs on 4 Mar 2016
The attached pauses() matlab function combines the above ideas.
It can pause with an accuracy of 0.03 ms on my PC, without using too much CPU-bandwidth, as opposed to an accuracy of 0.8 ms with java.lang.Thread.sleep(ms), or the even worse accuracy of 15 ms with pause().
I've tested the accuracy with:
pauses(0); ii=1:300; d=ii/12345;
for i=ii;
t0=tic; pauses(d(i),t0); t(i)=toc(t0);
fprintf('3 sigma accuracy = %.6f ms\n', std(t-d)*3000);
Toby Dewhurst
Toby Dewhurst on 10 Jun 2016
Works perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

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Jan on 24 Oct 2015
Edited: Jan on 24 Oct 2015
There is an accurate timer in Java, which can be called directly in Matlab:
java.lang.Thread.sleep(duration*1000) % in mysec!

Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 8 May 2012
Getting millisecond timing accuracy is extremely difficult in most programming languages since the underlying clocks are just not that accurate. It really is a question of how much jitter you can tolerate.
That said, the "serial port" tag makes me think you should look at callback functions.

Andreas Goser
Andreas Goser on 8 May 2012
Edited: John Kelly on 27 May 2014
While Jakob's answer is a correct answer to your specific question, you might want to do something different, as the PAUSE command really stops MATLAB from doing stuff.

Malcolm Lidierth
Malcolm Lidierth on 19 May 2016
Edited: Malcolm Lidierth on 19 May 2016
Pause does more than cause a sleep (see the docs) e.g. it flushes the AWT/Swing EDT. The minimum delay will therefore reflect what needs to be done in the background. has several relevant posts (see drawnow/pause)

Jakob Sørensen
Jakob Sørensen on 8 May 2012
Doesn't work how? And what Matlab version are you using? In R2011b, running Windows 7, I get the following results
>> tic;pause(0.001);toc;
Elapsed time is 0.009849 seconds.
Which is reasonably close to 1 ms.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 2 Nov 2015
R2015a on OS-X:
g = @() pause(0.001);
timeit(g, 0)
shows outputs between 0.001255 and 0.001404. (Be sure to use 0 as the second argument or else you end up measuring the time to return the "state" of the timer.)
The result is consistently higher than 1 1/4 millisecond and less than 1 1/2 millisecond in the tests I have done this way. Note that
tic(); pause(0.001); toc()
at the command line is not completely representative due to differences in what is JIT (Just In Time compiled)

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Marcel Kraemer
Marcel Kraemer on 5 Feb 2013
Edited: Marcel Kraemer on 5 Feb 2013
Hi Guys,
I had the same problem as you and I couldn't find an answer on the internet. So I tried following solution which works percetly well for me.
function delay(seconds)
% function pause the program
% seconds = delay time in seconds
while toc < seconds
Cheers, Marcel

Andreas Sprenger
Andreas Sprenger on 27 Sep 2013
on a 32bit Windows System you may use a kernel function. It works quite accurate, I've tested it against hardware timer. Unfortunately I haven't found a solution on 64bit Win7. Any hints are welcome.
Here an example for 32bit Windows:
if ~libisloaded('QPerf')
% loads kernel functions for time measurement
loadlibrary ('kernel32.dll', @QueryPerformance, 'alias', 'QPerf')
% data structure for QueryPerformance...
Value.LowPart = uint32(0);
Value.HighPart = uint32(0);
QStruct = libstruct('s_ULARGE_INTEGER', Value);
% Get performance of the computer
[xval, QFreq] = calllib('QPerf', 'QueryPerformanceFrequency', QStruct);
Frequency = QFreq.HighPart*2^32 + QFreq.LowPart;
% Get t0
[~, QCounter] = calllib('QPerf', 'QueryPerformanceCounter', QStruct);
t0 = (QCounter.HighPart*2^32 + QCounter.LowPart) / Frequency * 1000;
t1 = t0;
% example: wait a second
while t1 - t0 < 1000
[~, QCounter] = calllib('QPerf', 'QueryPerformanceCounter', QStruct);
t1 = (QCounter.HighPart*2^32 + QCounter.LowPart) / Frequency * 1000;
% -----
function [methodinfo,structs,enuminfo] = QueryPerformance
%This function was generated by the perl file called from loadlibary.m on Wed Apr 5 19:40:14 2006
%perl options:'win.i -outfile=QueryPerformance
ival={cell(1,0)}; % change 0 to the actual number of functions to preallocate the data.
% BOOL _stdcall QueryPerformanceCounter(LARGE_INTEGER *);{fcnNum}='QueryPerformanceCounter';
fcnNum = fcnNum+1;
% BOOL _stdcall QueryPerformanceFrequency(LARGE_INTEGER *);{fcnNum}='QueryPerformanceFrequency';
fcnNum = fcnNum+1;
structs.s_ULARGE_INTEGER.members=struct('LowPart', 'uint32', 'HighPart', 'uint32');
methodinfo = fcns;

Richard Plant
Richard Plant on 13 May 2012
I guess it depends on what you want to do but there's a subtle difference between accuracy and precision. Even using APIs you'll be millisecond precise but not accurate. That is, units of milliseconds but not that you're reading the timer at the right time.
Plus if you're trying to time say a visual display to the millisecond then you're likely to be out of luck. PC's, Macs and Linux will all have similar problems as they use the same hardware. Even RTOS systems won't help you all that much as soon as you interact with a standard TFT or keyboard.
For some background on the issues take a look at: and read about our Black Box ToolKit which helps users achieve millisecond timing accuracy in experimental work.
  1 Comment
Daniel Shub
Daniel Shub on 14 May 2012
As is, I would say that this answer seems a lot like spam and falls into the editor guidelines ( ) for deletion because of "Off-topic content not related to MATLAB or any MathWorks products". This answer would be a lot better if you provided some MATLAB code that "pauses for 1 ms" and then then showed measurements from you blackbox that the pause was not 1 ms. Ideally, give the tags chosen by the OP, the MATLAB code should do something with the serial port (from my quick glance at the documentation of blackbox it is not clear that blackbox can measure and create serial port "events").

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Andreas Sprenger
Andreas Sprenger on 27 Sep 2013
searching for a solution on 64bit Matlab I came across a workaround. Edit the prototype and change fcns.calltype from 'stdcall' (most common on 32bit Windows systems) to 'cdecl' (C type declaration). It works both on 32bit and 64bit Matlab systems. On 2013a there is a warning that the loader file will not be supported in future.
  1 Comment
Jan on 24 Oct 2015
Please do not post a question in the section for answers. See my new answer...

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