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Re: matrix operations -- shared data vs copied

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  • Subject: [mg65944] Re: matrix operations -- shared data vs copied
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnewsciv at>
  • Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2006 06:01:56 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

On 4/23/06 at 6:17 AM, robert.dodier at wrote:

>I'm trying to get a handle on what Mathematica does with some matrix
>operations. I wasn't able to figure it out by web or newsgroups
>search so maybe you can help.

>Suppose A is a matrix. Consider these operations.

>(1) B = A

>(2) myfunction[A]

>(3) B = (some way of extracting column 1 of A)

>(4) B = (some way of pasting A onto another matrix)

>The question of interest is whether modifying elements of A also
>modify B after operations (1), (3), and (4), and whether
>modifications of the formal argument within myfunction also modify
>the actual argument (namely A).

One of the best ways and probably the most direct way to answer questions like this is to simply try it out and see what happens. For example, I can create a simple 3 x 3 matrix named A and set B to be the same as follows:

A = Partition[Range@9, 3];
B = A;

then doing

A=A A;


clearly showing modifications to A do not alter B. Further if I do,

A==B B


followed by



which shows a function applied to a matrix doesn't change the matrix unless you explicitly set the matrix to be the result as I did with A = A A above.
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