Re: [R] Matlab user: Octave, scilab or R-project?

From: Spencer Graves <>
Date: Thu, 01 May 2008 11:25:18 -0700

      At some level, it depends on what she wants: For maximum Matlab compatibility, she doubtless wants something like Octave (or Scilab).

      However, if she's looking to the future or she wants access to other people's work, she might want to consider R. I've been using both Matlab and R almost daily for 16 months now, and I'd like to offer a couple of comparisons. First, I've heard people who use both say they love Matlab's simplicity and never developed an intuition about S-Plus (or R). I'm the opposite: I'm still struggling with Matlab's cell arrays and struct, two different concepts that both translate roughly as lists. However, in Matlab, it is very difficult to add names and other attributes to vectors or matrices. My primary collaborator who loves Matlab instead creates a "struct" with fields "rownames", "colnames" and "value". To add 1 to the values of a struct A, I write "1+A.value". In R, I write "1+A".

      Beyond this, R is increasingly the language of choice for new statistical algorithm development. At this moment, there are 1377 contributed packages downloadable from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), and that number is continually growing as the quality of many packages is improving. "RSiteSearch" makes it fairly easy to find things in R -- and R-Help provides better tech support than I've ever gotten for any commercial software.

      Twice in the past year, I was asked to get Matlab add-on packages. Each time, it took me a couple of days to decide if I really needed to spend that money. Then another couple of days of my time spread out over a month getting the required official permissions, getting a quote from Mathworks, getting a purchase order cut and approved, etc. With R, all I need is an Internet connection and click Packages -> "Install packages" from within Rgui. It's done in less that a minute with no cash outlay vs. a month and a thousand dollars for software that I may never use!

      Beyond that, the process of package development has increased substantially my productivity in software development. I now create documentation with test cases first. Then I write the code. After that, running "R CMD check", etc., usually tells me if a change to "A" breaks "B". I don't have than in Matlab.

      Spencer Graves

Johannes Hüsing wrote:
> schoappied <> [Thu, May 01, 2008 at 06:00:51PM CEST]:
>> what is a good alternative for matlab?
> Octave is generally said to be the alternative.
> mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Thu 01 May 2008 - 18:45:15 GMT

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