What are the Matlab Function Handle And How to Construct it?

A programmer can easily generate a function handle to an anonymous and named functions. Besides this, the user can save the multiple function handles within the array function, and store and execute them as per the need of another variable. A Matlab function handle is one of the data types which is used to represent the function. The function handles can pass a function to other functions. For instance, one can easily use them as an input argument, then evaluate the numeric expressions with the range of values. To create the Matlab function handle, @ operator is used. Example: generate a function handle to an anonymous function for the evaluation of the numeric expression a² – b²:

 f= @(a,b) (a.^2 -b.^2);

This post will help you to know all the necessary details about the Matlab function handle, so keep reading this post.

What is the Matlab function handle?

It is used to save the relation of the variable functions. With the help of indirect calling, a programmer can request a function from where one calls it. The function handles can be used for the following purposes:

  • Defining the callback function that can interact with the hardware of data acquisition or react to a UI.
  • Invite a local function from the outer side of the main function.
  • Transferring the function to other functions which are also known as function functions. For instance, transferring the function to the integrated and optimized function, like integral and fzero.
  • Creating a handle to a named function as well as to an anonymous function.

NOTE: One can check the variable, h, as a function handle with the help of isa (h, ‘function_handle’).


handle = @functionname


handle = @functionname can restore the value of the handle t a particular Matlab function.

A Function Handle is used to extract all the relevant data of a function that is required to run a particular function in Matlab. Or we can say that the function handle can be used to transfer a list of arguments to another function. The extracted function can run the function with the help of the passed functions. Use evaluate  or feval to execute a function with its function handle.

When one wants to create a function handle, then it is necessary that one should use the function which has the current scope and on the Matlab path. This condition is not applicable if you want to evaluate the function handle. Besides this, one can run a subfunction from an individual M-file(out of scope) with the help of function handle, till the handle lies in the M-file (in scope) of the subfunction.


For subfunctions, nonoverloaded functions, and private functions, the Matlab function handle references can be specified using the syntax @functionname. When one assesses the overloaded function using its own handle, then the argument handle can be recognized with the actual functions. Therefore, one can say that the Mn]atlab function handle is a standard data type that can be operated and manipulated in a similar method as that of the another Matlab data type. This can involve the use of function handles within the structures, arrays, and cell arrays.

Function handle allows the programmer to do these tasks:

  • Allow more accessibility to the private and subfunctions.
  • Reduce the files that are used to define the specific functions.
  • Transfer the available data of the function to another function.
  • Manage safety while evaluating the function.
  • Within the repeated operations, the performance can be improved.

Examples of Matlab function handle

Example 1 — Generating a Function Handle to an Anonymous Function

The program which is given below can generate an anonymous function that searches the cube of the given number. MATLAB allows the value to transfer the values into the variable ‘a’ while one calls the given function, and then utilize ‘a’ in the equation a.^3:

cube= @(a) a.^3;

The @ operator creates a Matlab function handle and allows the output variable cube. One can run the function within the function handle, which is correlated with it with the defined variables, which include the handle, accompanied by a comma-separated argument. The syntax is

fhandle(arg1, arg2, …, argN)

For finding the cube of a function which is written above, write

a = cube(2)

a =


As a cube is a function handle, one transfers this result in an argument list of another function. The program which is written here transfers the cube to an anonymous function to the MATLAB function handle quad to execute the integral from zero to one:

quad(sqr, 0, 1)

ans =


Example 2 — Generating a Function Handle to a Named Function

The example generates a Matlab function handle for assigning it to a specific variable fhandle.

fhandle = @humps;

Transfer this handle to other functions within the similar method, and one can transfer any argument. The example transfers the Matlab function handle to generate the function name fminbnd, and then it can reduce over the interval [0.3, 1].

x = fminbnd(fhandle, 0.3, 1)

x =


The fminbnd function assesses the @humps function handle. We have specified some of the programmings of the fminbnd M-file that are mentioned below. Inline 1, the funfcn input factor takes the @humps function handle that is transferred in the statement. Within line 113, estimate the handle.

1    function [xf,fval,exitflag,output] = …





113  fx = funfcn(x,varargin{:});


This post has given all the information about the Matlab function handle, which defines its meaning, syntax, description, remarks, and example for creating a function handle to an anonymous and named function. You can get through this information to use these function handles in your programming to call the function to another function. 

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