Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematica Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Mathematica. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Say I have a matrix A = 1000 x 5, and I want to compare it's first element (uppermost top left) to each of the 5 elements in the first column of matrix B of size 5 x 5. Whenever the first time the equality is flagged to say element of A is less than or equal to the element in B, the corresponding row position of B will be printed, and procedure is repeated with the next element down in A again compared with the same column of B. Similarly, elements in second column A will compare with second column of B, third column of A, compared with third column of B. This is repeated for the whole matrix of 5000 elements in A. So essentially the output matrix C will be of size 1000 x 5, with values ranging from 0 to 5.

Or is this easier in VBA or Matlab?

share|improve this question
Could you rephrase your question a bit? Especially your 2nd sentence I find terribly hard to understand. Perhaps you could add an example? And what did you try before you got stuck? –  Sjoerd C. de Vries Nov 1 '12 at 20:31
@Sjoerd Matrix element C11 would be if A11 <= B11 then print B11 index(1), elseif A11 <= B12 then print B12 index(2)...elseif A11 <=B15 print index(5) else print 0. Then next cell C12 would be if A12 <= B11 print B11 index(1) elseif A12 <= B12 print B12 index(2)...do you see the pattern –  sebastian c. Nov 1 '12 at 21:09
@sebastiancheung Have you considered using Position? –  drN Nov 1 '12 at 22:00

2 Answers 2

I think this does what you want, though I may have transposed the matrices...

For the example I'll use 3 x 6 instead of 5 x 1000

Create some test data:

{n, m} = {3, 6};
a = RandomReal[{0, 1}, {n, m}];
b = Sort /@ RandomReal[{0, 1}, {n, n}];



enter image description here


enter image description here

This is the code:

c = MapThread[Mod[1 + Total[UnitStep[Outer[Subtract, #1, #2]], {2}], n + 1] &, {a, b}];

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Hi @Simon Woods you are a genius, dont know how to thank you! –  sebastian c. Nov 1 '12 at 23:14
Hi @Simon Woods, is this scalable to A=(1000 x 5), B=(5 x 5) so that C=(1000 x 5)? If so what is the best way to do so? –  sebastian c. Nov 1 '12 at 23:42
@sebastiancheung, the code above works with {n,m} = {5,1000}, but I may have misinterpreted the question. In my code a and b must have the same Length (i.e. same number of rows) so you might need to transpose a. Note that I've compared across rows of b, (i.e. element a[[i,j]] is compared with the elements of b[[i]]). So you might need to transpose b too. I've also assumed that the each row of b is in increasing numerical order. If that's not the case then my approach doesn't work at all. –  Simon Woods Nov 2 '12 at 11:28
To summarise: you are probably better off with kguler's solution! –  Simon Woods Nov 2 '12 at 11:29
 bb = RandomInteger[{0, 5}, {5, 5}];
 aa = RandomInteger[{0, 5}, {10, 5}];
 Grid[{{"a", "b"}, {aa // TableForm, bb // TableForm}}, 
    Spacings -> {5, 2}, Dividers -> All]

enter image description here

Using Select do define a mapping between two lists:

selPosF[{ax_, bx_}] := (Function[{xx}, 
 First[Select[Range[Length[bx]], (xx <= bx[[#]]) &, 1] /. {} -> {0}]] /@ ax);
cc = selPosF /@ Thread[Transpose /@ {aa, bb}];
Grid[{{"a", "b", "c"}, TableForm /@ {aa, bb, Transpose[cc]}}, 
   Spacings -> {5, 2}, Dividers -> All]

enter image description here

Alternatively, using Pick:

pickPosF[{ax_,  bx_}] := (Function[{xx}, 
   First[Pick[Range[Length[bx]], (xx <= #) & /@ bx] /. {} -> {0}]] /@ ax);

For both functions you can also use the inside MapThread as follows:

cc = Transpose@ MapThread[pickPosF[Sequence[{#1, #2}]] &, Transpose /@ {aa, bb}]
share|improve this answer
Hi @kguler, you are a great Mathematica user! –  sebastian c. Nov 1 '12 at 23:18
@sebastian, thank you:) –  kguler Nov 2 '12 at 1:16
Hi @kguler, I ran through the first two sections then ran MatrixForm[aa] and MatrixForm[bb] which were fine as expected and run selPosF[{aa, bb}] again but now it simply returned -> {0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}. Not sure what I did when calling selPosF[{aa, bb}]? –  sebastian c. Nov 2 '12 at 14:00
Sorry mistake, forgot to run the rest of the code. –  sebastian c. Nov 2 '12 at 14:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.