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

Tomislav Hengl T.Hengl at uva.nl
Tue Jan 20 17:09:44 CET 2009

Dear Barry,

Thanks for your reply.

Funnily enough, I got the same reply from the module coordinator - "you will enjoy learning MATLAB".

I have accepted to do everything in MATLAB (I do not have much choice really). Then, I might also
try Scilab afterwards and controlling Scilab from R. I will keep you informed about what I
discovered about MATLAB (at least considering the spatial analysis capabilities).

The real problem is that students want to get training in ESRI and Mathworks products, because they
think that it gives them better chances to find work in large/government companies (and this is
still largely true). So I think that we really need to 'work' on government agencies.

At least when I look at the Google trend graphs, I can see that some of the commercial players are
irreversibly flowing into a decay function  :)

Tom Hengl

> -----Original Message-----
> From: b.rowlingson at googlemail.com [mailto:b.rowlingson at googlemail.com] On Behalf Of Barry
> Rowlingson
> Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:17 AM
> To: Tomislav Hengl
> Cc: r-sig-geo at stat.math.ethz.ch
> Subject: Re: [R-sig-Geo] Spatial data analysis in MATLAB / Comparison of MATLAB vs R
> 2009/1/20 Tomislav Hengl <T.Hengl at uva.nl>:
> > 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).
>  If you convert your entire study programme to R you'll annoy your
> colleagues who have to learn and rewrite their courses in R. If you
> just convert your spatial data analysis module to R you'll annoy your
> students who'll have to learn R for this and MATLAB for everything
> else. You choose :)
>  Ideally all your colleagues will take to R and feel joy at the
> prospect of learning new software and rewriting course notes - but how
> often does that happen?
>  As a first step you could try introducing Scilab or Octave to the
> students so they can use a MATLAB-ish package at zero cost.
>  For our undergrad maths course they use Scilab for linear
> algebra-type stuff, R for stats, and Maxima for computer algebra. You
> may need to really rework your programme if you want to use just R
> throughout. It could be worth it.
>  Don't forget the big argument. R is free and open source - it can,
> like the research we publish, be freely shared. For me that's
> ultimately compelling - if it's not open, it's not science; and if
> it's not science, it's not a BSc.
> Barry

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