[R] Matlab user: Octave, scilab or R-project?
spencer.graves at pdf.com
Thu May 1 20:25:18 CEST 2008
At some level, it depends on what she wants: For maximum Matlab
compatibility, she doubtless wants something like Octave (or Scilab).
However, if she's looking to the future or she wants access to
other people's work, she might want to consider R. I've been using both
Matlab and R almost daily for 16 months now, and I'd like to offer a
couple of comparisons. First, I've heard people who use both say they
love Matlab's simplicity and never developed an intuition about S-Plus
(or R). I'm the opposite: I'm still struggling with Matlab's cell
arrays and struct, two different concepts that both translate roughly as
lists. However, in Matlab, it is very difficult to add names and other
attributes to vectors or matrices. My primary collaborator who loves
Matlab instead creates a "struct" with fields "rownames", "colnames" and
"value". To add 1 to the values of a struct A, I write "1+A.value". In
R, I write "1+A".
Beyond this, R is increasingly the language of choice for new
statistical algorithm development. At this moment, there are 1377
contributed packages downloadable from the Comprehensive R Archive
Network (CRAN), and that number is continually growing as the quality of
many packages is improving. "RSiteSearch" makes it fairly easy to find
things in R -- and R-Help provides better tech support than I've ever
gotten for any commercial software.
Twice in the past year, I was asked to get Matlab add-on
packages. Each time, it took me a couple of days to decide if I really
needed to spend that money. Then another couple of days of my time
spread out over a month getting the required official permissions,
getting a quote from Mathworks, getting a purchase order cut and
approved, etc. With R, all I need is an Internet connection and click
Packages -> "Install packages" from within Rgui. It's done in less that
a minute with no cash outlay vs. a month and a thousand dollars for
software that I may never use!
Beyond that, the process of package development has increased
substantially my productivity in software development. I now create
documentation with test cases first. Then I write the code. After
that, running "R CMD check", etc., usually tells me if a change to "A"
breaks "B". I don't have than in Matlab.
Johannes Hüsing wrote:
> schoappied <schoappied at gmail.com> [Thu, May 01, 2008 at 06:00:51PM CEST]:
>> what is a good alternative for matlab?
> Octave is generally said to be the alternative.
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