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Bachelor's Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

  1. Feb 3, 2012 #1
    I just was wondering, I am getting my bachelors in Applied Mathematics. Currently in differential equations, we use MATLAB quite a bit in this class. I know I will likely be taking 2-3 more classes where we use MATLAB should I buy a student copy? Would it have the features needed for undergrad math classes? Any thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2012 #2
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    What is the cost? I was about about to buy a copy of Matlab because I needed it for some work and I thougt I should pay for it instead of copying it. However it was extremely expensive for me that is not a student anymore so I ended up with the clone "FreeMat" instead. It was enough for my needs althougt some of the plots did not look as nice as they would have in Matlab I think.

    Freemat is basically the same thing as Matlab, the name of all the functions etc. is the same. Although some functionality might be missing...
  4. Feb 3, 2012 #3
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    Guess the same as the cost on matlabs website for the MATLAB & Simulink student version so about $100.
  5. Feb 3, 2012 #4
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    I was under the impression that most schools offer it to their students for free. The school buys an annual license and distributes it to the students and faculty. That's the way it works at my school, which is a very large well-known state school. I would check with the software distribution office at your school. I would be SHOCKED if they don't provide it, though I guess I don't really know how it works elsewhere.

    That said, yes you should definitely have both Matlab and Mathematica.
  6. Feb 3, 2012 #5
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    In my university, there is a copy of MATLAB on every computer in the engineering buildings (and I assume the maths department too) as well as the library ...but they do not distribute it to students.

    There is some software freely available, bit MATLAB ain't one of them ....shame.

  7. Feb 3, 2012 #6


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    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    same with my university, we get a student discount but it isn't that much cheaper. guiOctave can do a lot of the stuff matlab does but being free it obviously isn't as full featured and could do with a bit more debugging
  8. Feb 3, 2012 #7
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    MATLAB is very good, if you can afford it then it shouldn't be a problem
    As far as I recall, the student license has a time limit or so.
    Did ask in your department if any licenses for students are offered ?
    One alternative is using MATLAB via remote access if the department offers such a thing.

    You may want to consider SciLab as an alternative since its free:

    For basic MATLAB functionality, I found NumPy+MatPlotLib (Python) to be handy.
  9. Feb 3, 2012 #8
    Re: Bachlores Applied Math - Should I buy MATLAB?

    No. Get it for free if offered, otherwise use free alternatives.
  10. Feb 4, 2012 #9


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    The student version is relatively limited, and right now is also only a 32-bit executable, so you have less available memory. Get it for free if your school offers it, or try Octave (which isn't as good IMO), or alternative sources.
  11. Feb 6, 2012 #10
    If $100 is something you can spare, then why not? Free versions are nice, but you lose them when school is over. I've had my copy $100 copy of Matlab for 2 years and enjoy it and probably will until I get a new computer (which might be never!).
  12. Feb 6, 2012 #11
    There are some free variants of MATLAB. The most notable one, by GNU, is Octave. It has most of the main functionalities of MATLAB, except that it is lacking in the symbolic toolbox area. I also used a similar program called Sage for symbolic manipulations. Someone else above recommended SciPy (which is a Python) library. I think learning Python and learning how to use NumPy and SciPy is a big plus since it will teach you how to program a bit more properly, make portable code (since it's free), and you'll have more flexibility in case you ever need to write scripts for anything other than math.
  13. Feb 6, 2012 #12
    I'll definitely recommend that you stick with MATLAB. It's a useful and employable skill, there's a good selection of toolboxes, excellent user support with detailed documentation, libraries, the File Exchange and various webinars online etc. that you can't get with an alternative. There are various ways you can get MATLAB for free... But first of all your school should have it for free (see above post about annual license), especially if there are classes being taught with MATLAB. In the worst case scenario, talk to one of your instructors, it will definitely resolve things.
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