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How to access data of regexp output (without temporary variable)?

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I know how to convert the output from regexp( ) to a table by intermediating through a temporary variable as this solution:
strT = ["apple 001"; "banana 102"; "orange 344 001"];
C = regexp(strT, '\s', 'split', 'once'); % temporary variable
array2table(vertcat(C{:,:})) % desired output, except I hope there's a way to avoid braces.
ans = 3×2 table
Var1 Var2 ________ _________ "apple" "001" "banana" "102" "orange" "344 001"
I wonder if there is a way to cascade/pipeline function calls in a single line. It seems that similar questions had been asked zillion times (this post said so.) But I want to learn more about Matlab, so forgive me for asking it again.
% I tried this, but it doesn't give the desired result.
cell2table(regexp(strT, '\s', 'split', 'once'))
ans = 3×1 table
Var1 _____________________ "apple" "001" "banana" "102" "orange" "344 001"

Accepted Answer

Stephen23 on 26 Apr 2023
Edited: Stephen23 on 26 Apr 2023
The general answer to the question has not changed much since 2012.
Using a temporary variable is not "less efficient" as many beginners might imagine (most likely MATLAB will generate the intermediate cell array internally anyway).
str = ["apple 001"; "banana 102"; "orange 344 001"];
tbl = splitvars(cell2table(regexp(str, '\s', 'split', 'once')))
tbl = 3×2 table
Var1_1 Var1_2 ________ _________ "apple" "001" "banana" "102" "orange" "344 001"
Note that this creates and discards an intermediate table, so uses more memory.
Personally I would recommend using the intermediate variable: while code golf is very entertaining, it does not serve the purpose of clarity and efficiency. In one year you will come back to this code any wonder what it does, how it works, and what side-effects it has. Code is read more times than it is written, so clarity when reading is valuable.
On top of that, hiding intermediate arrays within nested function call makes debugging harder.
  1 Comment
Simon on 26 Apr 2023
There are several advices for good coding habit in your answer. Thanks again. (I gradually realize that a couple fantacies I learned from Python coding turn out not quite ok, oneliner functions being one.)

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More Answers (3)

albara on 26 Apr 2023
Edited: per isakson on 26 Apr 2023
You can access the data of the regexp output directly without using a temporary variable by using the syntax [~,~,~,match] = regexp(str, expr), where str is the input string and expr is the regular expression you want to match.
The regexp function returns multiple outputs, including the start and end indices of the match, any tokens captured by the regular expression, and the matched substring. By using the ~ symbol as a placeholder for the outputs you don't need, you can ignore them and only keep the matched substring.
Here is an example:
% Define input string and regular expression
str = 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog';
expr = 'brown';
% Use regexp to find the matching substring and access it directly
[~, ~, ~, match] = regexp(str, expr);
% Display the matching substring
In this example, regexp is used to find the first occurrence of the word "brown" in the input string str. The ~ symbol is used as a placeholder for the outputs we don't need, and the match variable is used to store the matching substring directly.
The output of this code will be the string 'brown'. Note that you can access any of the other outputs of regexp by using the corresponding placeholder variables, such as [start, end, tokens, match] = regexp(str, expr) to store the start and end indices and any tokens in separate variables.
Simon on 13 May 2023
Your codes didn't return the same result in my Matlab version (2023a). The result your codes return is the same as the one below. I just checked out array2table( ) manual page. Its behavior has not changed. Why we have different results from the same codes?
strT = ["apple 001"; "banana 102"; "orange 344 001"];
array2table(cell2mat(cellfun(@(x) str2double(x), regexp(strT, '\s', 'split', 'once'), 'UniformOutput', false)))
ans = 3×2 table
Var1 Var2 ____ ____ NaN 1 NaN 102 NaN NaN
array2table(regexp(strT, '(\S+)\s+(\S+)', 'tokens', 'once'))
ans = 3×1 table
Var1 _____________________ {["apple" "001" ]} {["banana" "102"]} {["orange" "344"]}
Stephen23 on 13 May 2023
"Why we have different results from the same codes?"
Within a regular expression the meta-character \S only matches non-whitespace characters:
"orange" "344 001"
% ^ so there is no way it could return this

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Rik on 26 Apr 2023
If you insist on a single line, you can even use subsref to index the result of regexp. That will make your code hard to read and hard to modify.
Why don't you write a wrapper function you can call regexp2table like this:
strT = ["apple 001"; "banana 102"; "orange 344 001"];
regexp2table(strT, '\s', 'split', 'once') % Look, ma, one line
ans = 3×2 table
Var1 Var2 ________ _________ "apple" "001" "banana" "102" "orange" "344 001"
function tab=regexp2table(varargin)
% All inputs are piped to regexp().
C = regexp(varargin{:});
tab = array2table(vertcat(C{:}));
  1 Comment
Simon on 13 May 2023
Thanks. Your code and the idea behind it might come handy for solving more difficult regexp problems.

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Dyuman Joshi
Dyuman Joshi on 26 Apr 2023
Experimenting lead to this -
str = ["apple 001"; "banana 102 3579"; "orange 344 001"]
str = 3×1 string array
"apple 001" "banana 102 3579" "orange 344 001"
C = array2table([extractBefore(str,' ') extractAfter(str,' ')])
C = 3×2 table
Var1 Var2 ________ __________ "apple" "001" "banana" "102 3579" "orange" "344 001"


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