[SciPy-user] Matlab, Scipy and teaching science

Markus Weimer markus.weimer at gmail.com
Thu Oct 20 04:57:14 CDT 2005

Hi all,

> My arguments at present are that Matlab is a proprietary tool so the
> cost to students in obtaining copies will be not inconsiderable
> (considering it will only be used for a short course), and that
> Matlab is a specialised tool, so those not interested in going on
> into a physics related field will not find it of any use (unlike Python).

As an aside, please note that Mathworks recently changed it licensing
policy to give academic discount only to places where you can actually
graduate. This leaves research bodies like Fraunhofer and Max Planck
in Germany  without any option to get Matlab, as the prices for the
commercial edition are simply to high. I assume that other research
bodies around the world face the same problem, and many will consider
switching to python.

This one example shows how powerless one becomes when relying on
proprietary software: Mathworks could increase prices whenever they
like again. Even for universities. I for myself have decided to not be
trapped by this and will stick to python, even if it is less
convenient (and it really is).

> 1) It's a standard tool, widely used

This might change when major research bodies have to switch.

> 2) It is easier to install and maintain (discounting the Enthought
> edition for a moment, Python is CRAP compared with other langauges -
> where is the Package manager to make life easier?)

That is indeed one of the weakest points of python.

> 3) The editor has a good interface (v7 and above) which IDLE lacks
> (no data inspector 'right there')

You should have a look at SPE, a nice python IDE that could be
converted into the perfect matlab replacement. Unfortunately, its
current development is not at all focussed on scientific computing.



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