I have converted January 9, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, research, science, solar physics.
Tags: igloo, matlab, programming, scilab
Because of the vagaries of my status at UMN (that is, I am an enrolled student, but I don’t pay tuition and therefore do not get some of the perks), I found out that I could no longer get access to Matlab. This is a bummer because, well, I need it for my thesis.
I’m trying to prove out some code and it’s easier to see what’s going on in Matlab because of the plotting functions. The idea is that I would like to write it up in there, see what’s going on, and then translate it to the dreaded Fortran.
Alas, I guess I’m having to break up with Matlab. Instead, I’m learning Scilab. I find this somewhat funny given how I was explaining to my engineering students last semester that once you know a computer language, it’s often easier to learn another. (Sadly, most chose not to learn a first one.) This is doubly so moving from Matlab to Scilab (or, I imagine, the reverse order) because they are so similar.
I like Scilab because it seems to me like a cleaned up version of Matlab. I don’t consider myself a master in the art of Matlab Kung Fu, but I’m passable. I have written a small program to solve the Boltzmann equation in the presence of an electromagnetic field and later solved the intractable igloo problem. However, there are some of the subtleties of matrix operations in Matlab which have always proved problematic for me, mostly dealing with conditional statements to indicate matrix indices, leaving me to fall back on loops. Not efficient, but it works. So far, it appears that these operations are more straightforward in Scilab. I also like the use of the % to indicate prenamed variables. I am all too guilty of using i as a counter and then being frustrated because it wouldn’t work as an imaginary value later in the program. And of course, I really like the price tag.
I haven’t yet gotten to some of the plotting I need, however, and as I understand it, that is where Matlab excels. We shall see.
Have you used both programs? If so, how do you think they compare?