[Numpy-discussion] matlab vs. python question

Zdeněk Hurák hurak@fel.cvut...
Thu Apr 26 05:06:56 CDT 2007


Matthew Brett wrote:
[...]
> I agree that matlab has many attractions as a teaching tool and for
> small numeric processing scripts, but if you are writing a large to
> medium-sized application, I really don't think there is any
> comparison...
[...]

Matthew, there are also other (engineering) computational needs than just
neuroimaging. 

Coming from the field of control engineering, I don't think that at this
moment there is any replacement for their graphical interface to solvers
for nonlinear differential/difference equations called Simulink. Its
extension for discrete-event systems called Stateflow is also impressive. I
know on no other tool (commercial or free) that would offer this high
productivity. 

But what makes Matlab difficult to be replaced is that lots of other
projects (commercial: Mathematica, Maple, ... and free: octave, maxima,
scipy, ...) only offer computation and visualization, while engineers in my
field also need INTERACTION OF THE SYSTEM WITH EXTERNAL WORLD. That is,
compatibility with a real-time operating system and MOST available
input-output (AD-DA) cards. Being able to acquire measurement data from an
external industrial system, process them computationally (for instance,
solving some Riccati matrix differential equations), visualize the data and
put the computed results back to the real system, this is what we need.
Well, to make this complete, I should say that Scilab project is starting
to be a competitor. But it is not completely free and the user comfort is
not too high at the moment. (Perhaps joining efforts with Openmodelica
developers is the way to go for Python community?)

I am absolutely sure that Python (and Scipy and Numpy) project has a
potential to fulfill also these needs (and by starting using these and
sharing my own code I would like to contribute), but it is not the case at
the moment. Without being negative and discouraging, I think it is fair to
say that currently for some people it would be very difficult to switch
completely to Python libraries. 

But surely this is improving steadily.

Zdenek Hurak



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