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MATLAB stands for "MATrix LABoratory" and is a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language. Developed by MathWorks, MATLAB allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, and Fortran.

Although MATLAB is intended primarily for numerical computing, an optional toolbox uses the MuPAD symbolic engine, allowing access to symbolic computing capabilities. An additional package, Simulink, adds graphical multi-domain simulation and Model-Based Design for dynamic and embedded systems.

In 2004, MATLAB had around one million users across industry and academia.[2] MATLAB users come from various backgrounds of engineering, science, and economics. Among these users are academic and research institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA, Max Planck Society, and RWTH Aachen University as well as industrial enterprises such as ABB Group, Boeing, Caterpillar Inc., Ford Motor, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Novartis, Pfizer, Philips, Toyota, and UniCredit Bank.[3]


MATLAB was created in the late 1970s by Cleve Moler, then chairman of the computer science department at the University of New Mexico.[4] He designed it to give his students access to LINPACK and EISPACK without having to learn Fortran. It soon spread to other universities and found a strong audience within the applied mathematics community. Jack Little, an engineer, was exposed to it during a visit Moler made to Stanford University in 1983. Recognizing its commercial potential, he joined with Moler and Steve Bangert. They rewrote MATLAB in C and founded MathWorks in 1984 to continue its development. These rewritten libraries were known as JACKPAC.[citation needed] In 2000, MATLAB was rewritten to use a newer set of libraries for matrix manipulation, LAPACK.[5]

MATLAB was first adopted by control design engineers, Little's specialty, but quickly spread to many other domains. It is now also used in education, in particular the teaching of linear algebra and numerical analysis, and is popular amongst scientists involved with image processing.[4]

This article is written like a manual or guidebook. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view. (October 2008)

MATLAB, the application, is built around the MATLAB language. The simplest way to execute MATLAB code is to type it in at the prompt, >> , in the Command Window, one of the elements of the MATLAB Desktop. In this way, MATLAB can be used as an interactive mathematical shell. Sequences of commands can be saved in a text file, typically using the MATLAB Editor, as a script or encapsulated into a function, extending the commands available.[6]

Interfacing with other languages

MATLAB can call functions and subroutines written in the C programming language or Fortran. A wrapper function is created allowing MATLAB data types to be passed and returned. The dynamically loadable object files created by compiling such functions are termed "MEX-files" (for MATLAB executable).[11][12]

Libraries written in Java, ActiveX or .NET can be directly called from MATLAB and many MATLAB libraries (for example XML or SQL support) are implemented as wrappers around Java or ActiveX libraries. Calling MATLAB from Java is more complicated, but can be done with MATLAB extension,[13] which is sold separately by MathWorks, or using an undocumented mechanism called JMI (Java-to-Matlab Interface),[14] which should not be confused with the unrelated Java Metadata Interface that is also called JMI.

As alternatives to the MuPAD based Symbolic Math Toolbox available from MathWorks, MATLAB can be connected to Maple or Mathematica.[15]


MATLAB is a proprietary product of MathWorks, so users are subject to vendor lock-in.[16][2] Although MATLAB Builder can deploy MATLAB functions as library files which can be used with .NET or Java application building environment, future development will still be tied to the MATLAB language.

See also: list of numerical analysis software and comparison of numerical analysis software

MATLAB has a number of competitors.[17] Commercial competitors include Mathematica, Maple, and IDL by ITT Visual Information Solutions.

There are also free open source alternatives to MATLAB, in particular GNU Octave, FreeMat, and Scilab which are intended to be mostly compatible with the MATLAB language (but not the MATLAB desktop environment).

Among other languages that treat arrays as basic entities (array programming languages) are APL and J, Fortran 95 and 2003, as well as the statistical language S (the main implementations of S are S-PLUS and the popular open source language R).

There are also several libraries to add similar functionality to existing languages, such as Perl Data Language for Perl and SciPy together with NumPy and Matplotlib for Python.

Release history
Version[18] Release name Year Notes
MATLAB 1.0 1984
MATLAB 2 1986
MATLAB 3 1987
MATLAB 3.5 1990 Ran on MS-DOS but required at least a 386 processor. Version 3.5m required math coprocessor
MATLAB 4 1992
MATLAB 4.2c R7 1994 Ran on Windows 3.1. Required a math coprocessor
MATLAB 5.0 R8 1996
MATLAB 5.1 R9 1997
MATLAB 5.1.1 R9.1
MATLAB 5.2 R10 1998
MATLAB 5.2.1 R10.1
MATLAB 5.3 R11 1999
MATLAB 5.3.1 R11.1
MATLAB 6.0 R12 2000
MATLAB 6.1 R12.1 2001
MATLAB 6.5 R13 2002
MATLAB 6.5.1 R13SP1 2003
MATLAB 6.5.2 R13SP2
MATLAB 7 R14 2004
MATLAB 7.0.1 R14SP1
MATLAB 7.0.4 R14SP2 2005
MATLAB 7.2 R2006a 2006
MATLAB 7.3 R2006b
MATLAB 7.4 R2007a 2007
MATLAB 7.5 R2007b Last release for Windows 2000 and PowerPC Mac.
MATLAB 7.6 R2008a 2008
MATLAB 7.7 R2008b
MATLAB 7.8 R2009a 2009 First release for 32-bit & 64-bit Windows 7.
MATLAB 7.9 R2009b First release for Intel 64-bit Mac, and last for Solaris SPARC.
MATLAB 7.10 R2010a 2010 Last release for Intel 32-bit Mac.

See also

* List of numerical analysis software
* Comparison of numerical analysis software
* List of numerical libraries


1. ^ "Requirements". MathWorks. http://www.mathworks.com/products/matlab/requirements.html. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
2. ^ a b Richard Goering, "Matlab edges closer to electronic design automation world," EE Times, 10/04/2004
3. ^ "User Stories By Company". Mathworks.com. http://www.mathworks.com/company/user_stories/company.html. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
4. ^ a b Cleve Moler, the creator of MATLAB (December 2004). "The Origins of MATLAB". http://www.mathworks.com/company/newsletters/news_notes/clevescorner/dec04.html. Retrieved April 15, 2007.
5. ^ Note from Cleve Moler in a Mathworks newsletter Cleve Moler, the creator of MATLAB (2000). "MATLAB Incorporates LAPACK". http://www.mathworks.com/company/newsletters/news_notes/clevescorner/winter2000.cleve.html. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
6. ^ "MATLAB technical documentation". Mathworks.com. http://www.mathworks.com/access/helpdesk/help/techdoc/matlab.html. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
7. ^ [1] Documentation on MATLAB in relation to other languages
8. ^ sym function Documentation for the MATLAB Symbolic Toolbox
9. ^ "MATLAB Online Documentation". Mathworks.com. http://www.mathworks.com/access/helpdesk/help/techdoc/math/f1-85462.html. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
10. ^ "MATLAB Class Overview". Mathworks.com. http://www.mathworks.com/access/helpdesk/help/techdoc/index.html?/access/helpdesk/help/techdoc/matlab_oop/bqs290n-1.html. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
11. ^ "MATLAB external interface guide". http://www.mathworks.com/access/helpdesk/help/techdoc/matlab_external/bp_kqh7.html. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
12. ^ Spielman, Dan (2004-02-10). "Connecting C and Matlab". Yale University, Computer Science Department. http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/spielman/ECC/cMatlab.html. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
13. ^ "MATLAB Builder JA". MathWorks. http://www.mathworks.com/products/javabuilder/. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
14. ^ "Java-to-Matlab Interface". Undocumented Matlab. 2010-04-14. http://undocumentedmatlab.com/blog/jmi-java-to-matlab-interface/. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
15. ^ Mathsource item #618 for calling MATLAB from Mathematica Roger Germundsson from Wolfram Research
16. ^ Jan Stafford, "The Wrong Choice: Locked in by license restrictions," SearchOpenSource.com, 21 May 2003
17. ^ Comparison of mathematical programs for data analysis ScientificWeb
18. ^ Cleve Moler (January 2006). "The Growth of MATLAB and The MathWorks over Two Decades" (PDF). http://www.mathworks.com/company/newsletters/news_notes/clevescorner/jan06.pdf. Retrieved August 18, 2008.


* Gilat, Amos (2004). MATLAB: An Introduction with Applications 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-69420-5.
* Quarteroni, Alfio; Fausto Saleri (2006). Scientific Computing with MATLAB and Octave. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-32612-0.
* Ferreira, A.J.M. (2009). MATLAB Codes for Finite Element Analysis. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4020-9199-5.

External links

* MATLAB overview, at the MathWorks website
* System Requirements - Platform Roadmap, at the MathWorks website.
* MATLAB at the Open Directory Project
* comp.soft-sys.matlab
* LiteratePrograms (MATLAB)
* Official blogs
* Examples for the MEX interface to access R&S measurement instruments
* Comparison of mathematical programs for data analysis ScientificWeb
* Physical Modeling in MATLAB, by Allen B. Downey, Green Tea Press.

Mathematics Software

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