[Numpy-discussion] matlab vs. python question

Travis Oliphant oliphant.travis@ieee....
Thu Apr 26 05:36:59 CDT 2007


Zdeněk Hurák wrote:
> 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. 

This is correct. This is the one thing that Python needs improvements 
in. Many of my colleagues use simulink to design and model a digital 
signal processing element which they can then download to an FPGA using 
a third-party tool from XiLINX. There is no way they could replace that 
with Python/SciPy at this point (although of course it "could" be done).

I would love to see some good contributions in the area of Simulink-like 
work. There are several things out there that are good starts.

> 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.
The only way to solve this is to get more users interested in making 
these kinds of things happen. Or to start a company that does this and 
charges for a special build of Python compatible with your favorite 
hardware.

>  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.
>   
This is doable in many respects already (look at what Andrew Straw has 
done for example), but it of course could be made "easier" to do. But, 
I'm not sure it will happen without the work of a company. It would be 
great if hardware manufacturers used Python and made sure their stuff 
worked right with it, but this requires many more users.
> 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. 
>   
Yes, this is fair to say. As you have indicated, the situation is 
improving.


-Travis



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