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

Vincent van Beveren V.vanBeveren@rijnhuizen...
Fri Jul 10 02:20:44 CDT 2009

Thanks everyone for your comments. Because of the many responses I can't reply to everyone personally, but thank you for your input. I have summarised your comments into a list, if you have any corrections, or additions, I would like to hear:

-          Completely Free: No ridiculous licenses or restrictions
-          Open source:
o        If there is a bug you can fix it yourself, or ask the community
o        You can always go back to the source
-          Stable:
o        Originally written by commercial company, before released opensource,
o        The base of EPD (Enthought Python Distribution)
-          Large user community:
o        well supported
o        actively developed
-          Easy to build arbitrary complex applications (IDL and Matlab make this more difficult)
-          As a language it:
o        has many modules out of the box
o        is very readable, and modular
o        easy parallel programming
o        well featured:
?         has support for many data structures (Lists, Tuples, Sets, Dicts)
?         Object Orientated (OO in IDL is a pain, Matlab: what objects?)
?         has compact array manipulation notation, functional programming and support for complex numbers
-          Cross-platform (So is IDL? I don't know about Matlab)
-          Integration with many different things into a unified interface
o        has many additional modules which can be installed
?         HDF5, Numpy, SciPy, Matplotlib (2D plotting), VTK (3D graphics)
o        Easy to interface with other languages (Fortran, C, R)
-          Complete applications for numerical computation build on SciPy freely available:
o        SAGE
o        Python XY

Thanks so far, you all have been really helpful.


From: scipy-user-bounces@scipy.org [mailto:scipy-user-bounces@scipy.org] On Behalf Of Vincent van Beveren
Sent: dinsdag 7 juli 2009 16:03
To: 'scipy-user@scipy.org'
Subject: [SciPy-user] Why is SciPy better than Matlab or IDL? ;)

Hello everyone,

I'm an engineer at Rijnhuizen, which is a research institute for plasma physics. We use Python to drive one of our main research projects, however, in the scientific circles in this institute Python (and SciPy) are largely unknown. Time to change this, I think :). However, since I am an engineer and not a scientist I my viewpoint on Python and SciPy are more of an engineering perspective, like its Open Source, Free, modern language, functional programming, etc... I'm not entirely sure these are compelling arguments for a scientist to start working with Python (or atleast not on it self). So I was wondering, if I was to promote Python in the scientific community here at Rijnhuizen. So I have a few questions:

-       In what aspects does SciPy excel, compared to say IDL or matlab?
-       In what ways allows it a scientist to be more effective?
-       How usable is SciPy for Plasma physics, molucular dynamics and nanolayer Surface and Interface Physics (the 3 main areas at Rijnhuizen)?
-       How stable is it compared to other packages. (bugs, computation)?

Any comments and insights are welcome!


PS. Posted in scipy-dev by accident.
Ing. V. van Beveren
Software Engineer, FOM Rijnhuizen
E: V.vanBeveren@rijnhuizen.nl<mailto:V.vanBeveren@rijnhuizen.nl>

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