# pdist

Pairwise distance between pairs of observations

## Syntax

``D = pdist(X)``
``D = pdist(X,Distance)``
``D = pdist(X,Distance,DistParameter)``
``D = pdist(X,Distance,CacheSize=cache)``
``D = pdist(X,Distance,DistParameter,CacheSize=cache)``

## Description

example

````D = pdist(X)` returns the Euclidean distance between pairs of observations in `X`. ```

example

````D = pdist(X,Distance)` returns the distance using the method specified by `Distance`. ```

example

````D = pdist(X,Distance,DistParameter)` returns the distance using the method specified by `Distance` and `DistParameter`. You can specify `DistParameter` only when `Distance` is `'seuclidean'`, `'minkowski'`, or `'mahalanobis'`.```

example

````D = pdist(X,Distance,CacheSize=cache)` or `D = pdist(X,Distance,DistParameter,CacheSize=cache)` uses a cache of size `cache` megabytes to accelerate the computation of Euclidean distances. This argument applies only when `Distance` is `'fasteuclidean'`, `'fastsquaredeuclidean'`, or `'fastseuclidean'`.```

## Examples

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Compute the Euclidean distance between pairs of observations, and convert the distance vector to a matrix using `squareform`.

Create a matrix with three observations and two variables.

```rng('default') % For reproducibility X = rand(3,2);```

Compute the Euclidean distance.

`D = pdist(X)`
```D = 1×3 0.2954 1.0670 0.9448 ```

The pairwise distances are arranged in the order (2,1), (3,1), (3,2). You can easily locate the distance between observations `i` and `j` by using `squareform`.

`Z = squareform(D)`
```Z = 3×3 0 0.2954 1.0670 0.2954 0 0.9448 1.0670 0.9448 0 ```

`squareform` returns a symmetric matrix where `Z(i,j)` corresponds to the pairwise distance between observations `i` and `j`. For example, you can find the distance between observations 2 and 3.

`Z(2,3)`
```ans = 0.9448 ```

Pass `Z` to the `squareform` function to reproduce the output of the `pdist` function.

`y = squareform(Z)`
```y = 1×3 0.2954 1.0670 0.9448 ```

The outputs `y` from `squareform` and `D` from `pdist` are the same.

Create a matrix with three observations and two variables.

```rng('default') % For reproducibility X = rand(3,2);```

Compute the Minkowski distance with the default exponent 2.

`D1 = pdist(X,'minkowski')`
```D1 = 1×3 0.2954 1.0670 0.9448 ```

Compute the Minkowski distance with an exponent of 1, which is equal to the city block distance.

`D2 = pdist(X,'minkowski',1)`
```D2 = 1×3 0.3721 1.5036 1.3136 ```
`D3 = pdist(X,'cityblock')`
```D3 = 1×3 0.3721 1.5036 1.3136 ```

Define a custom distance function that ignores coordinates with `NaN` values, and compute pairwise distance by using the custom distance function.

Create a matrix with three observations and two variables.

```rng('default') % For reproducibility X = rand(3,2);```

Assume that the first element of the first observation is missing.

`X(1,1) = NaN;`

Compute the Euclidean distance.

`D1 = pdist(X)`
```D1 = 1×3 NaN NaN 0.9448 ```

If observation `i` or `j` contains `NaN` values, the function `pdist` returns `NaN` for the pairwise distance between `i` and `j`. Therefore, D1(1) and D1(2), the pairwise distances (2,1) and (3,1), are `NaN` values.

Define a custom distance function `naneucdist` that ignores coordinates with `NaN` values and returns the Euclidean distance.

```function D2 = naneucdist(XI,XJ) %NANEUCDIST Euclidean distance ignoring coordinates with NaNs n = size(XI,2); sqdx = (XI-XJ).^2; nstar = sum(~isnan(sqdx),2); % Number of pairs that do not contain NaNs nstar(nstar == 0) = NaN; % To return NaN if all pairs include NaNs D2squared = sum(sqdx,2,'omitnan').*n./nstar; % Correction for missing coordinates D2 = sqrt(D2squared); ```

Compute the distance with `naneucdist` by passing the function handle as an input argument of `pdist`.

`D2 = pdist(X,@naneucdist)`
```D2 = 1×3 0.3974 1.1538 0.9448 ```

Create a large matrix of points, and then measure the time used by `pdist` with the default "`euclidean"` distance metric.

```rng default % For reproducibility N = 10000; X = randn(N,1000); D = pdist(X); % Warm up function for more reliable timing information tic D = pdist(X); standard = toc```
```standard = 9.6896 ```

Next, measure the time used by `pdist` with the `"fasteuclidean"` distance metric. Specify a cache size of 10.

```D = pdist(X,"fasteuclidean",CacheSize=10); % Warm up function tic D2 = pdist(X,"fasteuclidean",CacheSize=10); accelerated = toc```
```accelerated = 1.1904 ```

Evaluate how many times faster the accelerated computation is compared to the standard.

`standard/accelerated`
```ans = 8.1395 ```

The accelerated version computes about three times faster for this example.

## Input Arguments

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Input data, specified as a numeric matrix of size m-by-n. Rows correspond to individual observations, and columns correspond to individual variables.

Data Types: `single` | `double`

Distance metric, specified as a character vector, string scalar, or function handle, as described in the following table.

ValueDescription
`'euclidean'`

Euclidean distance (default)

`'squaredeuclidean'`

Squared Euclidean distance. (This option is provided for efficiency only. It does not satisfy the triangle inequality.)

`'seuclidean'`

Standardized Euclidean distance. Each coordinate difference between observations is scaled by dividing by the corresponding element of the standard deviation, `S = std(X,'omitnan')`. Use `DistParameter` to specify a different value for `S`.

`'fasteuclidean'`Euclidean distance computed by using an alternative algorithm that saves time when the number of predictors is at least 10. In some cases, this faster algorithm can reduce accuracy. Algorithms starting with `'fast'` do not support sparse data. For details, see Algorithms.
`'fastsquaredeuclidean'`Squared Euclidean distance computed by using an alternative algorithm that saves time when the number of predictors is at least 10. In some cases, this faster algorithm can reduce accuracy. Algorithms starting with `'fast'` do not support sparse data. For details, see Algorithms.
`'fastseuclidean'`Standardized Euclidean distance computed by using an alternative algorithm that saves time when the number of predictors is at least 10. In some cases, this faster algorithm can reduce accuracy. Algorithms starting with `'fast'` do not support sparse data. For details, see Algorithms.
`'mahalanobis'`

Mahalanobis distance, computed using the sample covariance of `X`, `C = cov(X,'omitrows')`. Use `DistParameter` to specify a different value for `C`, where the matrix `C` is symmetric and positive definite.

`'cityblock'`

City block distance

`'minkowski'`

Minkowski distance. The default exponent is 2. Use `DistParameter` to specify a different exponent `P`, where `P` is a positive scalar value of the exponent.

`'chebychev'`

Chebychev distance (maximum coordinate difference)

`'cosine'`

One minus the cosine of the included angle between points (treated as vectors)

`'correlation'`

One minus the sample correlation between points (treated as sequences of values)

`'hamming'`

Hamming distance, which is the percentage of coordinates that differ

`'jaccard'`

One minus the Jaccard coefficient, which is the percentage of nonzero coordinates that differ

`'spearman'`

One minus the sample Spearman's rank correlation between observations (treated as sequences of values)

`@distfun`

Custom distance function handle. A distance function has the form

```function D2 = distfun(ZI,ZJ) % calculation of distance ...```
where

• `ZI` is a `1`-by-`n` vector containing a single observation.

• `ZJ` is an `m2`-by-`n` matrix containing multiple observations. `distfun` must accept a matrix `ZJ` with an arbitrary number of observations.

• `D2` is an `m2`-by-`1` vector of distances, and `D2(k)` is the distance between observations `ZI` and `ZJ(k,:)`.

If your data is not sparse, you can generally compute distances more quickly by using a built-in distance metric instead of a function handle.

For definitions, see Distance Metrics.

When you use `'seuclidean'`, `'minkowski'`, or `'mahalanobis'`, you can specify an additional input argument `DistParameter` to control these metrics. You can also use these metrics in the same way as the other metrics with the default value of `DistParameter`.

Example: `'minkowski'`

Data Types: `char` | `string` | `function_handle`

Distance metric parameter values, specified as a positive scalar, numeric vector, or numeric matrix. This argument is valid only when you specify `Distance` as `'seuclidean'`, `'minkowski'`, or `'mahalanobis'`.

• If `Distance` is `'seuclidean'`, `DistParameter` is a vector of scaling factors for each dimension, specified as a positive vector. The default value is `std(X,'omitnan')`.

• If `Distance` is `'minkowski'`, `DistParameter` is the exponent of Minkowski distance, specified as a positive scalar. The default value is 2.

• If `Distance` is `'mahalanobis'`, `DistParameter` is a covariance matrix, specified as a numeric matrix. The default value is `cov(X,'omitrows')`. `DistParameter` must be symmetric and positive definite.

Example: `'minkowski',3`

Data Types: `single` | `double`

Size of the Gram matrix in megabytes, specified as a positive scalar or `"maximal"`. The `pdist` function can use `CacheSize=cache` only when the `Distance` argument is `'fasteuclidean'`, `'fastsquaredeuclidean'`, or `'fastseuclidean'`.

If `cache` is `"maximal"`, `pdist` tries to allocate enough memory for an entire intermediate matrix whose size is `M`-by-`M`, where `M` is the number of rows of the input data `X`. The cache size does not have to be large enough for an entire intermediate matrix, but must be at least large enough to hold an `M`-by-1 vector. Otherwise, `pdist` uses the standard algorithm for computing Euclidean distances.

If the distance argument is `'fasteuclidean'`, `'fastsquaredeuclidean'`, or `'fastseuclidean'` and the `cache` value is too large or `"maximal"`, `pdist` might try to allocate a Gram matrix that exceeds the available memory. In this case, MATLAB® issues an error.

Example: `"maximal"`

Data Types: `double` | `char` | `string`

## Output Arguments

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Pairwise distances, returned as a numeric row vector of length m(m–1)/2, corresponding to pairs of observations, where m is the number of observations in `X`.

The distances are arranged in the order (2,1), (3,1), ..., (m,1), (3,2), ..., (m,2), ..., (m,m–1), i.e., the lower-left triangle of the m-by-m distance matrix in column order. The pairwise distance between observations i and j is in D((i-1)*(m-i/2)+j-i) for ij.

You can convert `D` into a symmetric matrix by using the `squareform` function. `Z = squareform(D)` returns an m-by-m matrix where `Z(i,j)` corresponds to the pairwise distance between observations i and j.

If observation i or j contains `NaN`s, then the corresponding value in `D` is `NaN` for the built-in distance functions.

`D` is commonly used as a dissimilarity matrix in clustering or multidimensional scaling. For details, see Hierarchical Clustering and the function reference pages for `cmdscale`, `cophenet`, `linkage`, `mdscale`, and `optimalleaforder`. These functions take `D` as an input argument.

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### Distance Metrics

A distance metric is a function that defines a distance between two observations. `pdist` supports various distance metrics: Euclidean distance, standardized Euclidean distance, Mahalanobis distance, city block distance, Minkowski distance, Chebychev distance, cosine distance, correlation distance, Hamming distance, Jaccard distance, and Spearman distance.

Given an m-by-n data matrix `X`, which is treated as m (1-by-n) row vectors x1, x2, ..., xm, the various distances between the vector xs and xt are defined as follows:

• Euclidean distance

`${d}_{st}^{2}=\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}\right)\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}{\right)}^{\prime }.$`

The Euclidean distance is a special case of the Minkowski distance, where p = 2.

• Standardized Euclidean distance

`${d}_{st}^{2}=\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}\right){V}^{-1}\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}{\right)}^{\prime },$`

where V is the n-by-n diagonal matrix whose jth diagonal element is (S(j))2, where S is a vector of scaling factors for each dimension.

• Mahalanobis distance

`${d}_{st}^{2}=\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}\right){C}^{-1}\left({x}_{s}-{x}_{t}{\right)}^{\prime },$`

where C is the covariance matrix.

• City block distance

`${d}_{st}=\sum _{j=1}^{n}|{x}_{sj}-{x}_{tj}|.$`

The city block distance is a special case of the Minkowski distance, where p = 1.

• Minkowski distance

`${d}_{st}=\sqrt[p]{\sum _{j=1}^{n}{|{x}_{sj}-{x}_{tj}|}^{p}}.$`

For the special case of p = 1, the Minkowski distance gives the city block distance. For the special case of p = 2, the Minkowski distance gives the Euclidean distance. For the special case of p = ∞, the Minkowski distance gives the Chebychev distance.

• Chebychev distance

`${d}_{st}={\mathrm{max}}_{j}\left\{|{x}_{sj}-{x}_{tj}|\right\}.$`

The Chebychev distance is a special case of the Minkowski distance, where p = ∞.

• Cosine distance

`${d}_{st}=1-\frac{{x}_{s}{{x}^{\prime }}_{t}}{\sqrt{\left({x}_{s}{{x}^{\prime }}_{s}\right)\left({x}_{t}{{x}^{\prime }}_{t}\right)}}.$`
• Correlation distance

`${d}_{st}=1-\frac{\left({x}_{s}-{\overline{x}}_{s}\right){\left({x}_{t}-{\overline{x}}_{t}\right)}^{\prime }}{\sqrt{\left({x}_{s}-{\overline{x}}_{s}\right){\left({x}_{s}-{\overline{x}}_{s}\right)}^{\prime }}\sqrt{\left({x}_{t}-{\overline{x}}_{t}\right){\left({x}_{t}-{\overline{x}}_{t}\right)}^{\prime }}},$`

where

${\overline{x}}_{s}=\frac{1}{n}\sum _{j}{x}_{sj}$ and ${\overline{x}}_{t}=\frac{1}{n}\sum _{j}{x}_{tj}$.

• Hamming distance

`${d}_{st}=\left(#\left({x}_{sj}\ne {x}_{tj}\right)/n\right).$`
• Jaccard distance

`${d}_{st}=\frac{#\left[\left({x}_{sj}\ne {x}_{tj}\right)\cap \left(\left({x}_{sj}\ne 0\right)\cup \left({x}_{tj}\ne 0\right)\right)\right]}{#\left[\left({x}_{sj}\ne 0\right)\cup \left({x}_{tj}\ne 0\right)\right]}.$`
• Spearman distance

`${d}_{st}=1-\frac{\left({r}_{s}-{\overline{r}}_{s}\right){\left({r}_{t}-{\overline{r}}_{t}\right)}^{\prime }}{\sqrt{\left({r}_{s}-{\overline{r}}_{s}\right){\left({r}_{s}-{\overline{r}}_{s}\right)}^{\prime }}\sqrt{\left({r}_{t}-{\overline{r}}_{t}\right){\left({r}_{t}-{\overline{r}}_{t}\right)}^{\prime }}},$`

where

• rsj is the rank of xsj taken over x1j, x2j, ...xmj, as computed by `tiedrank`.

• rs and rt are the coordinate-wise rank vectors of xs and xt, i.e., rs = (rs1, rs2, ... rsn).

• ${\overline{r}}_{s}=\frac{1}{n}\sum _{j}{r}_{sj}=\frac{\left(n+1\right)}{2}$.

• ${\overline{r}}_{t}=\frac{1}{n}\sum _{j}{r}_{tj}=\frac{\left(n+1\right)}{2}$.

## Algorithms

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### Fast Euclidean Distance Algorithm

The values of the `Distance` argument that begin `fast` (such as `'fasteuclidean'` and `'fastseuclidean'`) calculate Euclidean distances using an algorithm that uses extra memory to save computational time. This algorithm is named "Euclidean Distance Matrix Trick" in Albanie  and elsewhere. Internal testing shows that this algorithm saves time when the number of predictors is at least 10.

To find the matrix D of distances between all the points xi and xj, where each xi has n variables, the algorithm computes distance using the final line in the following equations:

`$\begin{array}{c}{D}_{i,j}^{2}=‖{x}_{i}-{x}_{j}{‖}^{2}\\ ={\left(}^{{x}_{i}}\left({x}_{i}-{x}_{j}\right)\\ =‖{x}_{i}{‖}^{2}-2{x}_{i}^{T}{x}_{j}+‖{x}_{j}{‖}^{2}.\end{array}$`

The matrix ${x}_{i}^{T}{x}_{j}$ in the last line of the equations is called the Gram matrix. Computing the set of squared distances is faster, but slightly less numerically stable, when you compute and use the Gram matrix instead of computing the squared distances by squaring and summing. For a discussion, see Albanie .

To store the Gram matrix, the software uses a cache with the default size of `1e3` megabytes. You can set the cache size using the `cache` argument. If the value of `cache` is too large or `"maximal"`, `pdist` might try to allocate a Gram matrix that exceeds the available memory. In this case, MATLAB issues an error.

 Albanie, Samuel. Euclidean Distance Matrix Trick. June, 2019. Available at https://www.robots.ox.ac.uk/%7Ealbanie/notes/Euclidean_distance_trick.pdf.

## Version History

Introduced before R2006a

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