Monday, July 11, 2005


Today I pondered whether to buy Matlab. I got used to using Matlab in grad school. However, it is a wee bit pricey: $1900 for the basic no-frills package. Then there are dozens and dozens of add-ons or "toolboxes" that they will gladly sell you for, say, $800 a pop.

This morning I downloaded Scilab which is a free alternative to Matlab. I got it to work on my Macintosh. However, although Scilab is free, there are a couple of drawbacks. It is said to run a few times more slowly than Matlab. I have not used it before so, to the extent that it is different from Matlab at all, I am less familiar with it. And most importantly, the scientists who created Scilab, who distribute it, and who wrote the manuals are French scientists. My French is not worth a damn, and their English, while not bad, is not flawless. I think this could get to be a little bit of a drag.

I also tried to download Octave, another free open source alternative to Matlab, but (only being willing to devote a small amount of time and effort) I could not even get it to run on my Mac. And the Octave FAQ has not been updated since 1998, which I take to be a bad sign.

So, I am leaning towards blowing $1900 of the taxpayers' money on Matlab. If you are a U.S. taxpayer, thank you, and I hope you understand.


At 6:05 AM, July 12, 2005, Blogger Ashbloem said...

It seems to me you've made your best effort to avoid spending my money, but it just isn't working out for you.

So, you have my blessings.

At 9:34 AM, July 12, 2005, Blogger Maribeth said...

Just pretend you are spending Stephen Wolfram's tax dollars.


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