Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/22/matlab-is-computer-science-for-legit-scientists-but-you-can-learn-it-too-with-this-training.html

…

But non-legit mad scientists use abacuses!

Correction, MATLAB is for Engineers. Scientists use Mathematica, and the hard core ones use C++ or other similar programs that work on supercomputers.

That screenshot looks a lot like python.

While I’m not a scientist, the various sciences and the discipline of dedicated scientists fascinates me. The courage to question your beliefs and discard them when you find fault or flaws, that’s admirable. I only know the name because I believe they are one of NPR’s sponsors Wouldn’t it be a concept worth having in all forms of human endeavor? Maybe even politicians could govern better if they had the courage and curiosity to question their own work. Silly concept I know but still…

I’ve never seen anybody use MATLAB outside of academics.

I’ve seen a lot of use of MATLAB outside academics!

I use octave as a four function calculator…

Um, I think it is python and isn’t MATLAB.

Once I knew mscript, but it’s withered away. I’m much more familiar with python. The neat thing about mscript, iirc, was that vectors made the code neater (and possibly faster). It is possible to use any language as if it was fortran, though, which makes identifying code from a screenshot rather dicy. “def” is the big clue in this instance.

“…but you CHUMPS can learn it too”

I like how this add assumes that

a. almost noone who reads this is a scientist

b. on the off chance you are one, you can’t be legit.

Yes, definitely python. It appears to be from the github scrapy project (specifically, a file named dupefilters.py)

Some here (the military-industrial complex) like it too.

I can be legit if I want to.

I’ve done thousands of hours of work in matlab. If you want to interface with externals (cameras, displays, amplifiers, …) or you are doing matrix algebra it is really good. If you’re just writing normal software, I’d recommend going with something else.

Freeware version of Matlab…

It’s not as fast, and Matlab has all sorts of special libraries, but I use Octave a lot. Anything that uses loops heavily such as image processing is better written in C++ but that is easy to do. I find it is great for prototyping.

Matlab was the lingua franca of university labs when I was in grad school Evem if there were more efficient implementations of an algorithm, you could easily share and run Matlab scripts. Also, Matlab is tied to simulink, which makes modeling complex systems so much simpler.

I also havebto sing MathWorks’ praises because the help files in Matlab are *immaculate*. You can teach yourself to use Matlab just by reading those (as I did, as a grad student). It’s the sort of documentation everyone using a program wants, and that most programmers can’t be bothered to do.

I have trouble keeping track of which of the math programs are free and which are commercial and which used to be free but are now commercial, or are free but there’s paid support available. Here’s the Wikipedia link . It looks like the home-use price of MATLAB is $149 with a bunch of $45 add-on packages.

I don’t do enough of this stuff to pay for a package; I’ve used R a bit, because it’s descended from the S statistics language I used at Bell Labs in the 80s, and of course you can just use Python with SciPy and NumPy. I suspect that if you want to interface with lab hardware the commercial packages may be a way to go.

You wouldn’t happen to know of a linear algebra library for javascript? (Javascript solves the deployment issues).

javascript’s floating point issues are so severe that I doubt anyone would even try heavy math applications in it.