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Define Class Properties with Constant Values

Defining Named Constants

You can define constants that you can refer to by name by creating a MATLAB® class that defines constant properties.

Use constant properties to define constant values that you can access by name. Create a class with constant properties by declaring the Constant attribute in the property blocks. Setting the Constant attribute means that, once initialized to the value specified in the property block, the value cannot be changed.

Assigning Values to Constant Properties

Assign any value to a Constant property, including a MATLAB expression. For example:

classdef NamedConst
   properties (Constant)
      R = pi/180
      D = 1/NamedConst.R
      AccCode = '0145968740001110202NPQ'
      RN = rand(5)

MATLAB evaluates the expressions when loading the class. Therefore, the values MATLAB assigns to RN are the result of a single call to the rand function and do not change with subsequent references to NamedConst.RN. Calling clear classes causes MATLAB to reload the class and reinitialize the constant properties.

Referencing Constant Properties

Refer to the constant using the class name and the property name:


For example, to use the NamedConst class defined in the previous section, reference the constant for the degree to radian conversion, R:

radi = 45*NamedConst.R
radi =


Constants in Namespaces

To create a library for constant values that you can access by name, first create a namespace folder, then define the various classes to organize the constants. For example, to implement a set of constants that are useful for making astronomical calculations, define a AstroConstants class in a namespace called constants:


The class defines a set of Constant properties with values assigned:

classdef AstroConstants
   properties (Constant)
   C = 2.99792458e8     % m/s
   G = 6.67259          % m/kgs
   Me = 5.976e24        % Earth mass (kg)
   Re = 6.378e6         % Earth radius (m)

To use this set of constants, reference them with a fully qualified class name. For example, the following function uses some of the constants defined in AstroContants:

function E = energyToOrbit(m,r)
   E = constants.AstroConstants.G * constants.AstroConstants.Me * m * ...

Importing the namespace into the function eliminates the need to repeat the namespace name (see import):

function E = energyToOrbit(m,r)
   import constants.*;
   E = AstroConstants.G * AstroConstants.Me * m * ...
      (1/AstroConstants.Re - 0.5 * r);

Constant Property Assigned a Handle Object

If a class defines a constant property with a value that is a handle object, you can assign values to the handle object properties. To access the handle object, create a local variable.

For example, the ConstMapClass class defines a constant property. The value of the constant property is a handle object (a containers.Map object).

classdef ConstMapClass < handle
   properties (Constant)
      ConstMapProp = containers.Map

To assign the current date to the Date key, return the handle from the constant property, then make the assignment using the local variable on the left side of the assignment statement:

localMap = ConstMapClass.ConstMapProp
localMap('Date') = datestr(clock);

You cannot use a reference to a constant property on the left side of an assignment statement. For example, MATLAB interprets the following statement as the creation of a struct named ConstMapClass with a field ConstMapProp:

ConstMapClass.ConstMapProp('Date') = datestr(clock);

Constant Property Assigned Any Object

You can assign an instance of the defining class to a constant property. MATLAB creates the instance assigned to the constant property when loading the class. Use this technique only when the defining class is a handle class.

The MyProject is an example of such a class:

classdef MyProject < handle
   properties (Constant)
      ProjectInfo = MyProject
   methods (Access = private)
      function obj = MyProject
         obj.Date = datestr(clock);
         obj.Department = 'Engineering';
         obj.ProjectNumber = 'P29.367';

Reference property data via the Constant property:

ans =

18-Apr-2002 09:56:59

Because MyProject is a handle class, you can get the handle to the instance that is assigned to the constant property:

p = MyProject.ProjectInfo;

Access the data in the MyProject class using this handle:

ans =


Modify the nonconstant properties of the MyProject class using this handle:

p.Department = 'Quality Assurance';

p is a handle to the instance of MyProject that is assigned to the ProjectInfo constant property:

ans =

Quality Assurance

Clearing the class results in the assignment of a new instance of MyProject to the ProjectInfo property.

clear classes
ans =


You can assign an instance of the defining class as the default value of a property only when the property is declared as Constant

Constant Properties — No Support for Get Events

Constant properties do not support property PreGet or PostGet events. MATLAB issues a warning during class initialization if you set the GetObservable attribute of a Constant property to true.

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