Choose Function to Rearrange Expression

Combine Terms of Same Algebraic Structures

Symbolic Math Toolbox™ provides the combine function for combining subexpressions of an original expression. The combine function uses mathematical identities for the functions you specify. For example, combine the trigonometric expression.

syms x y
ans =

If you do not specify a target function, combine uses the identities for powers wherever these identities are valid:

  • abac = ab + c

  • acbc = (ab)c

  • (ab)c = abc

For example, by default the function combines the following square roots.

ans =

The function does not combine the square roots sqrt(x)*sqrt(y) because the identity is not valid for negative values of variables.

ans =

To combine these square roots, use the IgnoreAnalyticConstraints option.

ans =

IgnoreAnalyticConstraints provides a shortcut allowing you to combine expressions under commonly used assumptions about values of the variables. Alternatively, you can set appropriate assumptions on variables explicitly. For example, assume that x and y are positive values.

ans =

For further computations, clear the assumptions on x and y by recreating them using syms.

syms x y

As target functions, combine accepts atan, exp, gamma, int, log, sincos, and sinhcosh.

Expand Expressions

For elementary expressions, use the expand function to transform the original expression by multiplying sums of products. This function provides an easy way to expand polynomials.

expand((x - 1)*(x - 2)*(x - 3))
ans =
 x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 6
expand(x*(x*(x - 6) + 11) - 6)
ans =
x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 6

The function also expands exponential and logarithmic expressions. For example, expand the following expression containing exponentials.

expand(exp(x + y)*(x + exp(x - y)))
ans =
exp(2*x) + x*exp(x)*exp(y)

Expand an expression containing logarithm. Expanding logarithms is not valid for generic complex values, but it is valid for positive values.

syms a b c positive
ans =
log(a) + log(b) + log(c)

For further computations, clear the assumptions.

syms a b c

Alternatively, use the IgnoreAnalyticConstraints option when expanding logarithms.

ans =
log(a) + log(b) + log(c)

expand also works on trigonometric expressions. For example, expand this expression.

expand(cos(x + y))
ans =
cos(x)*cos(y) - sin(x)*sin(y)

expand uses mathematical identities between the functions.

ans =
sin(x) - 12*cos(x)^2*sin(x) + 16*cos(x)^4*sin(x)
ans =
4*x^3 - 3*x

expand works recursively for all subexpressions.

expand((sin(3*x) + 1)*(cos(2*x) - 1))
ans =
2*sin(x) + 2*cos(x)^2 - 10*cos(x)^2*sin(x) + 8*cos(x)^4*sin(x) - 2

To prevent the expansion of all trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential subexpressions, use the option ArithmeticOnly.

expand(exp(x + y)*(x + exp(x - y)),'ArithmeticOnly',true)
ans =
exp(x - y)*exp(x + y) + x*exp(x + y)
expand((sin(3*x) + 1)*(cos(2*x) - 1),'ArithmeticOnly',true)
ans =
cos(2*x) - sin(3*x) + cos(2*x)*sin(3*x) - 1

Factor Expressions

To return all irreducible factors of an expression, use the factor function. For example, find all irreducible polynomial factors of this polynomial expression. The result shows that this polynomial has three roots: x = 1, x = 2, and x = 3.

syms x
factor(x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 6)
ans =
[ x - 3, x - 1, x - 2]

If a polynomial expression is irreducible, factor returns the original expression.

factor(x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 5)
ans =
x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 5

Find irreducible polynomial factors of the expression x^6 + 1. By default, factor uses factorization over rational numbers keeping rational numbers in their exact symbolic form. The resulting factors for this expression do not show polynomial roots.

factor(x^6 + 1)
ans =
[ x^2 + 1, x^4 - x^2 + 1]

Using other factorization modes lets you factor this expression further. For example, factor the same expression over complex numbers.

factor(x^6 + 1,'FactorMode','complex')
ans =
[ x + 0.86602540378443864676372317075294 + 0.5i,...
  x + 0.86602540378443864676372317075294 - 0.5i,...
  x + 1.0i,...
  x - 1.0i,...
  x - 0.86602540378443864676372317075294 + 0.5i,...
  x - 0.86602540378443864676372317075294 - 0.5i]

factor also works on expressions other than polynomials and rational expressions. For example, you can factor the following expression that contains logarithm, sine, and cosine functions. Internally, factor converts such expressions into polynomials and rational expressions by substituting subexpressions with variables. After computing irreducible factors, the function restores original subexpressions.

factor((log(x)^2 - 1)/(cos(x)^2 - sin(x)^2))
ans =
[ log(x) - 1, log(x) + 1, 1/(cos(x) - sin(x)), 1/(cos(x) + sin(x))]

Use factor to factor symbolic integers and symbolic rational numbers.

ans =
[ 2, 2, 47, 379, 12671]
ans =
[ 1/2, 1/3, 1/5, 1/7]

factor also can factor numbers larger than flintmax that the MATLAB® factor cannot. To represent a large number accurately, place the number in quotation marks.

ans =
[ 479001599, 87178291199]

Extract Subexpressions from Expression

The children function returns the subexpressions of an expression.

Define an expression f with several subexpressions.

syms x y
f = exp(3*x)*y^3 + exp(2*x)*y^2 + exp(x)*y;

Extract the subexpressions of f by using children.

expr = children(f)
expr =
[ y^2*exp(2*x), y^3*exp(3*x), y*exp(x)]

You can extract lower-level subexpressions by calling children repeatedly on the results.

Extract the subexpressions of expr(1) by calling children repeatedly. When the input to children is a vector, the output is a cell array.

expr1 = children(expr(1))
expr2 = children(expr1)
expr1 =
[ y^2, exp(2*x)]
expr2 =
  1×2 cell array
    {1×2 sym}    {1×1 sym}

Access the contents of the cell array expr2 using braces.

ans =
[ y, 2]
ans =

Collect Terms with Same Powers

If a mathematical expression contains terms with the same powers of a specified variable or expression, the collect function reorganizes the expression by grouping such terms. When calling collect, specify the variables that the function must consider as unknowns. The collect function regards the original expression as a polynomial in the specified unknowns, and groups the coefficients with equal powers. Group the terms of an expression with the equal powers of x.

syms x y z
expr = x*y^4 + x*z + 2*x^3 + x^2*y*z +...
        3*x^3*y^4*z^2 + y*z^2 + 5*x*y*z;
collect(expr, x)
ans =
(3*y^4*z^2 + 2)*x^3 + y*z*x^2 + (y^4 + 5*z*y + z)*x + y*z^2

Group the terms of the same expression with the equal powers of y.

collect(expr, y)
ans =
(3*x^3*z^2 + x)*y^4 + (x^2*z + 5*x*z + z^2)*y + 2*x^3 + z*x

Group the terms of the same expression with the equal powers of z.

collect(expr, z)
ans =
(3*x^3*y^4 + y)*z^2 + (x + 5*x*y + x^2*y)*z + 2*x^3 + x*y^4

If you do not specify variables that collect must consider as unknowns, the function uses symvar to determine the default variable.

ans =
(3*y^4*z^2 + 2)*x^3 + y*z*x^2 + (y^4 + 5*z*y + z)*x + y*z^2

Collect terms of an expression with respect to several unknowns by specifying those unknowns as a vector.

collect(expr, [y,z])
ans =
3*x^3*y^4*z^2 + x*y^4 + y*z^2 + (x^2 + 5*x)*y*z + x*z + 2*x^3

Rewrite Expressions in Terms of Other Functions

To present an expression in terms of a particular function, use rewrite. This function uses mathematical identities between functions. For example, rewrite an expression containing trigonometric functions in terms of a particular trigonometric function.

syms x
ans =
(2*tan(x/2))/(tan(x/2)^2 + 1)
ans =
-(tan(x/2)^2 - 1)/(tan(x/2)^2 + 1)
rewrite(sin(2*x) + cos(3*x)^2,'tan')
ans =
(tan((3*x)/2)^2 - 1)^2/(tan((3*x)/2)^2 + 1)^2 +...
(2*tan(x))/(tan(x)^2 + 1)

Use rewrite to express these trigonometric functions in terms of the exponential function.

ans =
(exp(-x*1i)*1i)/2 - (exp(x*1i)*1i)/2
ans =
exp(-x*1i)/2 + exp(x*1i)/2

Use rewrite to express these hyperbolic functions in terms of the exponential function.

ans =
exp(x)/2 - exp(-x)/2
ans =
exp(-x)/2 + exp(x)/2

rewrite also expresses inverse hyperbolic functions in terms of logarithms.

ans =
log(x + (x^2 + 1)^(1/2))
ans =
log(x + (x - 1)^(1/2)*(x + 1)^(1/2))

Compute Partial Fraction Decompositions of Expressions

The partfrac function returns a rational expression in the form of a sum of a polynomial and rational terms. In each rational term, the degree of the numerator is smaller than the degree of the denominator. For some expressions, partfrac returns visibly simpler forms.

syms x
n = x^6 + 15*x^5 + 94*x^4 + 316*x^3 + 599*x^2 + 602*x + 247;
d = x^6 + 14*x^5 + 80*x^4 + 238*x^3 + 387*x^2 + 324*x + 108;
partfrac(n/d, x)
ans =
1/(x + 1) + 1/(x + 2)^2 + 1/(x + 3)^3 + 1

The denominators in rational terms represent the factored common denominator of the original expression.

ans =
[ x + 1, x + 2, x + 2, x + 3, x + 3, x + 3]

Compute Normal Forms of Rational Expressions

The simplifyFraction function represents the original rational expression as a single rational term with expanded numerator and denominator. The greatest common divisor of the numerator and denominator of the returned expression is 1. This function is more efficient for simplifying fractions than the simplify function.

syms x y
simplifyFraction((x^3 + 3*y^2)/(x^2 - y^2) + 3)
ans =
(x^3 + 3*x^2)/(x^2 - y^2)

simplifyFraction cancels common factors that appear in numerator and denominator.

simplifyFraction(x^2/(x + y) - y^2/(x + y))
ans =
x - y

simplifyFraction also handles expressions other than polynomials and rational functions. Internally, it converts such expressions into polynomials or rational functions by substituting subexpressions with identifiers. After normalizing the expression with temporary variables, simplifyFraction restores the original subexpressions.

simplifyFraction((exp(2*x) - exp(2*y))/(exp(x) - exp(y)))
ans =
exp(x) + exp(y)

Represent Polynomials Using Horner Nested Forms

The Horner, or nested, form of a polynomial expression is efficient for numerical evaluation because it often involves fewer arithmetical operations compared to other mathematically equivalent forms of the same polynomial. Typically, this form of an expression is numerically stable. To represent a polynomial expression in a nested form, use the horner function.

syms x
horner(x^3 - 6*x^2 + 11*x - 6)
ans =
x*(x*(x - 6) + 11) - 6

If polynomial coefficients are floating-point numbers, the resulting Horner form represents them as rational numbers.

horner(1.1 + 2.2*x + 3.3*x^2)
ans =
x*((33*x)/10 + 11/5) + 11/10

To convert the coefficients in the result to floating-point numbers, use vpa.

ans =
x*(3.3*x + 2.2) + 1.1