What is vectorization? Why use vectorization instead of loops?

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Over at Reddit, a user asked about vectorization vs. a loop. This is a fundemental concept in MATLAB. So, what is vectorization? Why use it instead of loops?

Accepted Answer

Hans Scharler
Hans Scharler on 11 Oct 2023
Vectorization is about replacing explicit loops with matrix and vector operations. This can lead to more readable and efficient code. MATLAB is particularly well-suited for vectorized operations as it is designed to work with matrices and vectors natively.
Here's a normal loop approach to square each element in a vector.
n = 10;
vector = 1:n;
result = zeros(1, n);
% Use a loop to square each element of a vector
for i = 1:n
result(i) = vector(i)^2;
1 4 9 16 25 36 49 64 81 100
Here's how this looks with vectorization:
vector = 1:10;
% Square each element of a vector using vectorization
result = vector.^2;
1 4 9 16 25 36 49 64 81 100
The magic here is the ".^" which is an element-wise operation. You can also do this with ".*" and "./".

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