[SciPy-user] Why is SciPy better than Matlab or IDL? ;)

David Warde-Farley dwf@cs.toronto....
Tue Jul 7 11:14:03 CDT 2009

On 7-Jul-09, at 10:03 AM, Vincent van Beveren wrote:

> -          In what aspects does SciPy excel, compared to say IDL or  
> matlab?

Vectorized operations are (almost) as fast. Depending on what BLAS you  
use, linear algebra can be just as fast. String processing in Python  
is so incredibly better than Matlab that the thought of doing string  
operations in Matlab almost makes me cry. Python has bindings to  
nearly everything -- a dozen different GUI toolkits to low-level  
hardware interfaces.  Likewise there are a handful of different ways  
to interface your code to code written in other languages -- ctypes,  
swig, boost::python, cython for C/C++, PyObjC for Objective C, f2py  
for Fortran, scikits.mlabwrap for Matlab, rpy and rpy2 for R...

> -          In what ways allows it a scientist to be more effective?

As has been echoed here, writing large programs will be easier. Python  
is a real programming language and was designed that way from the  
ground up. Matlab was designed as an interactive environment first and  
programming language features were grafted on as an afterthought.

> -          How stable is it compared to other packages. (bugs,  
> computation)?

I won't lie in that I occasionally run into bugs in SciPy, but one of  
three things usually happens:

- I look at the code myself -- all of which is available to view and  
modify, not the case with Matlab -- and file a bug report and/or patch
- I look at the code and realize it's not a bug but me  
misunderstanding something, at which point I might edit the  
documentation at http://docs.scipy.org/scipy/ to make it clearer if  
- If the code is incomprehensible to me, I ask on the mailing lists  
and (either already or shortly thereafter) it's fixed by someone else  
in Subversion.

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