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version (3.79 KB) by Matt Fig
Finds all partitions of a set, or only those partitions of a specified length. Includes a viewer.


Updated 21 May 2009

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C = PARTITIONS(N), for scalar N, returns all possible partitions of the set given by {1,2,3,...N}.
C = PARTITIONS(N), for vector N, returns the partitions of the vector elements, treated as members of a set.
C = PARTITIONS(N), for cell N, returns the partitions of the cell
elements treated as members of a set.

PARTITIONS(N,K) returns only the partitions of length K.
The results are stored in a cell array. For example:

The 15 partitions set {1 2 3 4}:
{1 2 3 4}
{1 2 3} {4}
{1 2 4} {3}
{1 2} {3 4}
{1 2} {3} {4}
{1 3 4} {2}
{1 3} {2 4}
{1 3} {2} {4}
{1 4} {2 3}
{1} {2 3 4}
{1} {2 3} {4}
{1 4} {2} {3}
{1} {2 4} {3}
{1} {2} {3 4}
{1} {2} {3} {4}

Also included is a viewer function, PARTDISP, which allows for easy viewing of the partitions. The output is a string to the command window.

C = partitions({'peanut','butter','yummy'});

The 5 partitions of set {peanut butter yummy}:
{peanut butter yummy}
{peanut butter} {yummy}
{peanut yummy} {butter}
{peanut} {butter yummy}
{peanut} {butter} {yummy}

Please email me if bugs are found in the code.

Cite As

Matt Fig (2020). PARTITIONS (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (8)

Henry Ip

Gospel Oh

Joshua C

The file is excellent, useful, and well documented.


Very useful function. I made a couple of tweaks.

- I added another "easy case" when N==K to speed up that situation
- I put a "round" at the end of the Stirling function because sometimes I wasn't getting an integer output, for example when I tried stirling(15,15). There may be a better way to handle this than just doing a round.

Excellent, useful file. Well commented and concisely coded.

Matt Fig

An update has been submitted which allows user to enter the set to be partitioned. For example: partitions(['a','b','c'])

Bruno Luong

It needs some guts to tackle the partitioning problem in a non-recursive way. Matt has done it, great educational code.


Added viewer, capability for user to specify set.

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2007a
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux

Inspired by: Set partition

Inspired: Set partition