Matlab is probably as close as you’ll find these days to an international standard for numerical computations. It seems to be taught at almost all universities in one form or another, is loved by engineers, and contains many thousands of lines of highly optimised code. And as well as the base package, there are lots of toolboxes: add-ons which provide functionality in particular areas: image processing, data acquisition, curve fitting and lots more.
Matlab’s interface, general ease of use, power, and extensibility have made it deservedly popular, and it has spawned a vast publishing industry.
As a teaching tool, though, it suffers from one major defect: it’s very expensive. And the add-on toolboxes add to its cost.
There’s therefore the need of a low-cost – preferably open-source – alternative, which can be used by students as a sort of drop-in replacement for experimentation at home, or on…
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