MATLAB derives its name from ‘matrix laboratory’ as it is simultaneously a multi-paradigm numerical computing environment and a proprietary programming language. The platform was developed by MathWorks to provide users an environment to process matrixes, plot data, and create different user interfaces. This includes a toolbox with the MuPAD engine where users can access symbolic computing abilities. With these features, it has become a tool for students of math and engineering as well as professionals in similar industries.
MATLAB is foremost a language of technical computing rather than an interactive environment. MathWorks offers this program as a one-stop-shop platform for numerical computation, visualization, and programming. While its large array of features can slow down computational speed, you will find that its graphical user interface is presented in a plain and organized way than other platforms like C++ or Fortran. MATLAB’s homepage is divided into four segments: command window, workspace, navigation toolbox, and toolstrip. The most of important of the four is the command window.
The MATLAB command window is the section wherein you will enter data, run functions, and other MATLAB files. It’s prompt is indicated by two right-facing double angle quotation marks. The >> symbol indicates that the program can process the values you assigned to the variables. You can also debug M-files in the command window. Simply click the Debug key on the menu bar and wait for the K>> prompt to appear. The menu bar also allows you to remove the default toolbar so its interface can be viewed as a simple command line.
You can source your command line’s code from the workspace. It contains variables that either you have created or imported from other programs. It’s important to note that variables do not persist by default. Should you need your data for multiple sessions, you must save it as a compressed file with a .mat extension or a MAT-file. You can then load the file into the platform when you need it.
MAT and M-file compatible
MATLAB has two native file extensions: .m and .mat. The M-file is a simple text file where you have placed all your MATLAB commands. When you open this file, the platform will automatically read the commands and run them exactly as you had typed. This means it will follow the sequence found in the prompt. You can convert this script file into .mat format to process more diverse codes as well as .txt, .mex, and .c files to make it more accessible to other programs.
MAT files are more complex than M-files as it is a binary data container that includes variables, functions, arrays and other codes. This file format has also more capabilities than script files such as processing two-dimensional matrices and character strings, multidimensional numeric arrays, 64-bit floating points. Should you need to organize the code, you can convert the .mat file into a .csv file. This will allow you to see the code cell-by-cell.
Unique programming language and platform
MATLAB is a suitable platform for both new and experienced programmers that are in need of visualizing their matrix and array mathematics. The four-paneled interface helps you decide which tools you need at any given time. In addition, its two native file formats allow the program to easily identify commands and other visual aids. Altogether, its features and capabilities make this an accessible and useful tool for users from various branches of science.