Operations on Symbolic Expressions Guide

Task: get basic knowledge of how to work with Symbolic Toolbox in the MATLAB software package (Part 2).

Operations on Symbolic Expressions

Once an expression or variable is declared as a symbolic object, we can perform standard mathematical operations such as given in the table below.

Function Description Function Description
horner(S) transforms S into the Horner nested polynomial format
[N,D] = numden(S) returns two symbolic numerator and denominator expressions
sym(S,’?’); where ? may be f,r,e, or d symbolic to numeric conversion: f is floating point, r = rational form, e = rational plus an error term, d = decimal expansion when followed by digits(N)
poly2sym(c) converts the polynomial vector c into a symbolic polynomial
pretty(S) produces a typeset type display
A+B symbolic addition of A+B
A/B symbolic division of A/B
A*B symbolic multiplication of AB
S^p symbolic power S^p
A-B symbolic subtraction A-B


    \[ p_{1}=\frac{1}{y - 3} \]

    \[ p_{2}=\frac{3y}{y + 2} \]

    \[ p_{3}=(y + 4)(y - 3)y \]

syms y
p1 = 1/(y-3);
p2 = 3*y/(y+2);
p3 = (y+4) *(y-3) *y;

% Now operate:

    \[ p_{1}*p_{2}=\frac{1}{y - 3} * \frac{3y}{y + 2} \]

    \[ p_{1}*p_{3}=(y + 4)*y \]

    \[ p_{2}^{3}=\frac{27*y^{3}}{(y + 2)^{3}} \]

    \[ p_{1}+p_{2}=\frac{1}{y - 3} + \frac{3y}{y + 2} \]

    \[ [num,den] = numden(p_{1}+p_{2}) \]

    \[ num=-8*y+2+3*y^{2} \]

    \[ den = (y-3)*(y+2) \]

Solutions to Equations

To solve a single equation, we use:

g = solve(eq,var);

That is, find what value of the independent variable makes eq = 0; var is optional.

– If more than one variable is present, the variable to solve for set with var is:

S = sym('x^{2} + 3*x + 18');

    \[ x=[-\frac{3}{2}+\frac{3}{2}*i*7^{\frac{1}{2}}, -\frac{3}{2}-\frac{3}{2}*i*7^{\frac{1}{2}}] \]

syms \, x \, a \, b \, c

S = sym('a*x^2 + b*x + c'); % Contains four variables

solve(S,x) % Solve for x

    \[ x=[\frac{\frac{1}{2}}{a*(-b+(b^{2}-4*a*c)^\frac{1}{2}}), \frac{\frac{1}{2}}{a*(-b-(b^{2}-4*a*c)^\frac{1}{2}}] \]

%quadratic equation

To solve a system of equations, use:

g = solve(eq_{1},eq_{2},...,eq_{n},var_{1},var_{2},...,var_{n});

The var_{1}, …,var_{n}are the variables to solve for. They must be declared as symbolics using syms.

syms \, x \, y \, z
eq_{4} = sym('3*x+2*y-z=10');
eq_{5} = sym('-x+3*y+2*z=5');
eq_{6} = sym('x-y-z=-1');

x = -2

y = 5

z = -6

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