[R-sig-Geo] Spatial data analysis in MATLAB / Comparison of MATLAB vs R

Tomislav Hengl T.Hengl at uva.nl
Tue Jan 20 10:03:28 CET 2009

Dear list,

I am preparing to teach spatial data analysis at BSc level (environmental and Earth sciences). The
study programme is completely based on MATLAB, which means that I will also need to adjust (I do not
have much experience with MATLAB).

Or maybe I can give a convincing argument to my colleagues to slowly switch to R? For example, I did
a small inventory / comparison between MATLAB and R and came to this small table:

GDAL: (R) yes; (MATLAB) limited;
Geostatistics: (R) yes; (MATLAB) +;
Map plotting: (R) yes; (MATLAB) yes;
Integration with GIS: (R) yes; (MATLAB) ?;
Overlay and proximity: (R) yes (limited); (MATLAB) ?;
Point pattern analysis: (R) yes; (MATLAB) yes;
PROJ4: (R) yes; (MATLAB) ?;
Spatial data classes: (R) excellent; (MATLAB) ?;
Spatial regression: (R) yes; (MATLAB) yes;
Vector-raster conversion:  (R) limited; (MATLAB) ?;
3D visualization: (R) limited; (MATLAB) yes;

Does anybody have more experience with analysis of spatial data in MATLAB? Did anybody maybe produce
a more detailed comparison of R vs MATLAB? (I could only find this discussion forum from 2004:



Comparison of the web-traffic for the three statistical software websites:
*Note how R users are much more active during holiday times.  :)

Comparison of the web-traffic R-project vs ESRI:
*ESRI community seems to be decreasing drastically! R looks stable.


Tom Hengl

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