MATLAB assign index for unique rows

MATLAB’s dataset/table objects’ internals often involves identifying unique contents and assigning a unique (grouping) index to it so the indices can be mapped or joined without actually going through the contents of each row.

In the old days when I were using dataset(), the first generation of table() objects before the rewrite, there is a tool called grp2idx() which assigns the same number to identical items regardless of data types. It was part of Statistics Toolbox (needs to pay extra for it) and it does not work if you have multiple columns that you want to assign an unique index unless the ROWS are identical.

Upon inspection. grp2idx() is overrated. There are two ways to get it without paying for the toolbox:

  • double(categorical(X)): cast a categorical type (technically you can use nominal/ordinal, but it’s part of statistics toolbox)
  • Use the 2nd output argument for sort() or sortrows() function. I recommend sortrows() because it’s can be overloaded on table() objects and it works on multiple rows.

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