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Matlab textbook necessary?

  1. Feb 14, 2013 #1
    I'll be doing a programming subject where the first half will be spent on Matlab then the second half on C. It has a prescribed textbook: https://www.amazon.com/MATLAB-Programming-Applications-Engineers-CL-Engineering/dp/0495668079 which solely focuses on Matlab programming.

    With all the resources available on the internet, is it really necessary to have such a textbook? Then again it would be easier to have something condensed all in one book, rather than having to filter through web pages, tutorials, etc. Plus I could use it in later courses as a reference...but I'm still trying to justify the cost.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 14, 2013 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Matlab has built-in documentation and tutorials/examples. Between that and Google, a textbook is not necessary for learning Matlab. Whether it would be helpful is another question. Maybe try to borrow a copy to see if it looks useful, before dropping $100 for something you might never use.
  4. Feb 15, 2013 #3
    Forgot about the tutorials and documentation available on matlab. That makes a lot of difference. I think ill just try to borrow out a library copy.
  5. Feb 15, 2013 #4
    Does the course have homework questions taken from the book? I had to have a book in C because of homework assigned from 'end of chapter questions'. My C++ instructor however said that "the information is free and out there, don't buy a book for my class", and he assigns programs to be written instead of questions.
  6. Feb 15, 2013 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Some instructors/professors organize their lectures and assignments strongly around the textbook, and refer to it often so that it becomes (at least) very inconvenient not to have easy access to the textbook.

    Others use the textbook mainly for background reading, and as a source for homework assignments (end-of-chapter problems etc.)

    Others use it only for background reading, and make up their own homework assignments.

    You need to find out how your instructor is going to do things, if you're considering not buying the "prescribed" textbook.
  7. Feb 15, 2013 #6
    I learned Matlab programming completely by using the online documentation and occasional googling. Toss your book in the trash (figuratively) and don't bother with it, it's very easy to learn. If you get stuck, you can always ask for help here on physicsforums.
  8. Feb 16, 2013 #7
    Well, I took a MATLAB-oriented course with a proscribed text (written by a prof at my school), and I'll say to you what I said to my classmates: " I can't believe how hard it is to find good help with Matlab on the internet."

    And it's true, the internet never produced good results and the official matlab page was no help either, and I am a master googler. Having that text as a reference really helped. (Mathematica otoh, I can just google it)

    The only useful thing I found on the net for matlab were some cool Easter eggs.
  9. Feb 17, 2013 #8
    Thanks everyone.

    I decided to borrow out a copy from the library and read through it for the 2 week period I'll have it (since someone is bound to request my copy as I had to myself).

    I don't think we'll be assessed through the book since I had a quick flick through it at the book store and it didn't seem to have many problems, rather examples.
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