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Specify Fixed-Point Math Properties in MATLAB Function Block

This example shows how to specify fixed-point math properties in a MATLAB® Function block. You can specify fimath properties to add fixed-point numbers without bit growth. The same methods also apply to subtraction and multiplication.

Define Fixed-Point Variables with Attached fimath

Define fixed-point variables A and B with attached fimath.


F = fimath(...

A = fi(1,true,32,16,F);
B = fi(1,true,32,16,F);

Define a structure T containing prototypes of the variables A and B.

T.A = cast(0,'like',A);
T.B = cast(0,'like',B);

The structure T functions as a types table. The values of the fields of T are not important. You will use the data types of the fields of T later in this example to specify fixed-point types that carry the fimath along with them.

Add the fixed-point variables A and B. In MATLAB, the fimath attached to variables A and B specify that the sum is to be computed as 32-bit word length and 16-bit fraction length.

Y = A + B
Y = 

          DataTypeMode: Fixed-point: binary point scaling
            Signedness: Signed
            WordLength: 32
        FractionLength: 16

        RoundingMethod: Zero
        OverflowAction: Wrap
           ProductMode: SpecifyPrecision
     ProductWordLength: 32
 ProductFractionLength: 16
               SumMode: SpecifyPrecision
         SumWordLength: 32
     SumFractionLength: 16
         CastBeforeSum: true

The fimath propagates to the variable Y.

Default MATLAB Function Block Behavior

In general, the Simulink software does not propagate fimath on fixed-point fi objects. This rule applies even if the fi objects have attached fimath in a Constant block or are passed in as a MATLAB Function block parameter. However, any attached fimath defined inside a MATLAB Function block are respected. One exception to the rule about parameters is described in the next section.

This function is defined in the block named MATLAB Function 1 in the mParameterFIMath model. If you execute this function in MATLAB, it returns the same 32-bit data type as the Y = A + B example.

function Y1 = default_behavior(A,B)
    Y1 = A + B;


Simulate the mParameterFIMath model to see how the MATLAB Function block executes this code.

model = 'mParameterFIMath';
Y1 = logsout.get('Y1').Values.Data 
Y1 = 

          DataTypeMode: Fixed-point: binary point scaling
            Signedness: Signed
            WordLength: 33
        FractionLength: 16

The MATLAB Function 1 block returns Y1 with a 33-bit word length instead of the 32-bit word length returned in MATLAB. To see why, open the Property Inspector pane for the MATLAB Funtion 1 block.


The MATLAB Function 1 block returns a 33-bit word length output because its MATLAB Function fimath setting has been set to Same as MATLAB. The input parameters A and B are stripped of their attached fimath and instead use the default fimath settings from MATLAB. The default fimath in MATLAB does full-precision sums. Therefore, the sum of two 32-bit variables return a 33-bit result.

To see the default fimath settings in MATLAB, first reset any global fimath settings, then enter fimath in the MATLAB Command Window.

ans = 
        RoundingMethod: Nearest
        OverflowAction: Saturate
           ProductMode: FullPrecision
               SumMode: FullPrecision

You can also to change the value of globalfimath, but doing so changes the fixed-point math behavior globally. This method is not recommended.

Pass fimath into MATLAB Function Block from Parameter

In general, the MATLAB Function block strips fimath from fixed-point inputs. The exception to this rule is if an input parameter is a non-tunable structure, such as this one.

T.A = cast(0,'like',A);
T.B = cast(0,'like',B);

In the mParameterFIMath model, the MATLAB Function 2 block has the structure T defined as a non-tunable input parameter.


The fields T.A and T.B carry the data type and fimath of A and B. If you cast the inputs A and B like T.A and T.B, respectively, you recover the fimath that was defined in MATLAB.

function Y2 = cast_like_non_tunable_types(A, B, T)
    A = cast(A,'like',T.A);
    B = cast(B,'like',T.B);
    Y2 = A + B;

The output of the MATLAB Function 2 block has the desired 32-bit word length.

Y2 = logsout.get('Y2').Values.Data
Y2 = 

          DataTypeMode: Fixed-point: binary point scaling
            Signedness: Signed
            WordLength: 32
        FractionLength: 16

This workflow provides a robust way of defining fixed-point data types in MATLAB Function blocks because it allows for the definition of different fimath and data type for each different variable. This method has these advantages:

  • The algorithm and type specification can be separate, with the types controlled in a dictionary separate from the block. Changing the type does not change the algorithm or block.

  • MATLAB and MATLAB Function blocks in Simulink have identical behavior.

  • Each parameter can have its own fimath and data type.

  • Each parameter can change to be types other than fixed-point. For instance, T.A = single(0); T.B = single(0); would change all types in this example to single without having to use global data-type override settings.

Set fimath for All Input Parameters

An alternative way to define fimath in a MATLAB Function block is to declare the fimath in the Fixed-point properties of the MATLAB Function block.

In the mParameterFIMath model, the MATLAB Function 3 block contains this code.

function Y3 = mlfb_specify_fimath(A, B)
    Y3 = A + B;

In the Property Inspector pane, under Fixed-point properties > MATLAB Function fimath, the option Specify Other is selected. The fimath is defined as the variable F from above.


Alternatively, you can write the fimath definition directly in the MATLAB Function fimath box.


Confirm that the output of this block has the desired 32-bit word length.

Y3 = logsout.get('Y3').Values.Data 
Y3 = 

          DataTypeMode: Fixed-point: binary point scaling
            Signedness: Signed
            WordLength: 32
        FractionLength: 16

This method has these limitations:

  • All MATLAB Function block input parameters get the same fimath.

  • Each MATLAB Function block must be modified to specify the fimath.

See Also


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