Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MATLAB Programming Contest Winner Announced

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the cigars-all-around dept.

Programming 224

gooru writes "The MATLAB programming contest winner has been announced. It is a semi-annual programming contest organized by the MathWorks. What makes the contest truly interesting is the final phase is open source. Contestants may submit as many entries as they want and can tweak other entries."

cancel ×

224 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

CHOCOLATE FILLING MIXED WITH BROWN SUGI (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602558)

mmmmmm fuck yea

in my brothas cocaine white nova

and she caid it was coooo

ahh! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602562)

death to MATLAB

Re:ahh! (1)

GET THE FACTS! (850779) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602615)

death to MATLAB

Exactly. MATLAB runs on Linux. [mathworks.com] Linux must die, therefore MATLAB must die. You are either with us or you are with the communists.

OUR PLAN IS WORKING! [slashdot.org]

hloel (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602564)

thrid psot

MathMan! MathMan! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602567)

Square One!

Re:C'mon people, thing of the big picture! (0, Offtopic)

TeleoMan (529859) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602578)

Timmayyy can stick a cigar up my asshole...indeed.

oblig. quote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602587)

nth post!

Re:oblig. quote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602600)

yay. (n+1)th post

MORTAL MATLAB (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602601)

The next contest should be to the death. Execute those who fail it. There can only be one. Then we'll see some real open source programming.

Re:MORTAL MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603115)

don't you mean execute the winner? I mean why would you execute the loosers? you like have dud processess wasting system resources?

I.M. Weasil has teh best mathematica... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602602)

WEASIL: one-plus-one equals infinity.

TEACHER: Is there anyone in the class, other than Mr. Nuclear Physicist, willing to answer?

PS: I miss those days of Cow and Chicken episodes on Cartoon Network. I.M. Weasil and I.R. Baboon was a sideshow from the main cartoon that featured Star Trek (Next Generation) Wharf as the voice of I.M. Weasil. Then there was the pantsless mandevil, that faggot.

You don't need pants for the Victory dance... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602653)

;-) I only like watching I.R. Weasil. All the other stuff, ala Cow and Chicken, were just crap. Dexter's Laboratory was quite entertaining, but then it changed with hands and that cartoon stinks too. What the hell is happening to all these great mature cartoons? Hello: Ren and Stimpy was converted to crap, Hey Arnold was converted to crap, Beavis and Butthead always was a cold turd on paper plate...

But this is nothing compared to the all-time greatest:

drum role... WENTURE BROTHERS!

Tom Goes To The Mayor is just hidden gay porno; it looks all hot from a long distance away, but when you look closer (preferably with a telescope) it looks faggoty; and the closer you walk to the set, it smells like shit that's been taco snotted all over the place.

Is this post Off-topic? I'm sorry; ask Dr. Venure 1+1 and he'll probably say ~2 miligrammes give or take infinity percent.

Venture Brothers, ho! Samson rocks!

Down with MATLAB (-1, Troll)

locokamil (850008) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602614)

Slightly offtopic but this needs to be said... MATLAB blows. It needs to go. It's slow, and crashes my computer everytime I try to use it. It's bloody annoying, and someone should write an alternative. Maybe someone already has... any suggestions?

Re:Down with MATLAB (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602634)

I do as much as possible of my work (bioinformatics) in Numerical Python [sourceforge.net] . It's really nice to have the power of a general-purpose programming language as well as a numerical feature set that has equivalents for nearly every special-purpose MATLAB function I've ever needed. YMMV.

Re:Down with MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602755)

Care to explain how numpy is better than matlab? I'm not trolling, I'm actually about to start numerical processing for my research, and I'm stuck on the fence between using matlab (which we have on all our lab computers) and python, which i'd have the luxury of doing at home since it's free. i barely know either one, so i don't really have any loyalty to either side yet.

AFAIK, matlab has better plotting capabilities, maybe somewhat better-tuned numerical libraries. but i really don't know the specifics of them. python is available for free, but it seems that installing all the extra packages, like numpy and plotting, will be kind of annoying.

I've hacked w/ python a little bit, on the windows boxes in my lab, and the pycrust program seems too flaky to use, but the standard python gui that comes w/ the base distribution also had problems running some gui code too. what do people tend to use on windows boxen?

Re:Down with MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602828)

we have on all our lab computers

Don't use Matlab. There's no alternative to it if you ever can't reach the lab while your brain is on, and Octave isn't nearly compatible enough. I don't have access to Matlab anymore so I can't run any of my functions that I've written.

That said, Octave is OK in its own right, but doesn't have nearly the number of toolboxes Matlab does.

Don't use Numerical Python. It isn't built for hacking around with, and it's a bitch to set up (a lot of package managers won't include all the optional libraries, so if you need those, it breaks your package management scheme).

Frankly, there's a niche open for a good freee, open source simulation language. R is OK for statistics; Octave is good for a lot of things; Scilab flunked horribly for me, but I understand others don't have this problem; and Numerical Python is an underpowered bitch. Be aware that GNUplot exists. It's nice enough, but my main complaint is that all of these packages/programs are entirely incompatible. Possibly the only way you'll be able to get exactly what you want is to write a custom C library.

Re:Down with MATLAB (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602869)

Care to explain how numpy is better than matlab? I'm not trolling, I'm actually about to start numerical processing for my research, and I'm stuck on the fence between using matlab (which we have on all our lab computers) and python, which i'd have the luxury of doing at home since it's free. i barely know either one, so i don't really have any loyalty to either side yet.

Basically, I like numpy because it's Python, and I like Python. More generally, I like having a general-purpose programming language when I'm writing real programs. MATLAB is good at crunching numbers and nothing else; numpy is almost as good (and in my experience, often faster) at crunching numbers, and it's also good at everything else Python is good at. String handling, DBI, and any data structure more complex than matrices, to name the examples I deal with most, are just unbelievably painful in MATLAB, IMO, but they're unbelievably easy in Python/numpy.

Re:Down with MATLAB (1)

eh2o (471262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603294)

i've done a fair amount of work in numpy --

the upside of numpy is that its python, so you have the whole python foundation to work with... custom GUIs, database connections, web services, whatever you want, its there, its free, and its relatively easy to write new C modules if you need them.

however things get kind of scattered when you try to do a big project. you will find out that what you need is module X, which is part of some bigger project, e.g. scipy, python-scientific, pysparse, etc etc (there are several). as you start to combine more and more modules from different places, the code starts to get messy because you are mixing all these apis together.

and yes, plotting is pretty bad -- py-gnuplot is the best available, and it will only get you so far. some people try to integrate with blender or some GL toolkit to get better graphics... YMMV.

I used to think the open-source ethic of using numpy outweighed the usefulness and completeness of commercial tools, but I don't believe that any more (though it may still be true in some cases). if you are in academics you can get matlab at home for cheap, and if you are an engineer and need it for work, then the high price is not really an issue.

if you are doing research its probably in an academic environment, and probably a competetive one, and if you use numpy the matlab folks are going to code circles around you.

all of that said I prefer to use mathematica -- which is by now fairly robust for fast numeric work as to be competetive with matlab, but with a lot more capabilities -- but its a *significantly* more difficult language/api to master... heavy emphasis on functional programming, lots of non-standard operators, etc.

Re:Down with MATLAB (3, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602637)


> Maybe someone already has... any suggestions?

Yes, octave.

Try Sci-Lab (5, Informative)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602710)

Try Sci-Lab [inria.fr] . Its functionality is about 1 order of magnitude greater than that of Octave. Sci-Lab has an extensive library of signal processing functions that equal the capability of Matlab.

I use Sci-Lab regularly. With Sci-Lab, I have no need to dole out bucks for the commercial version: Matlab.

Re:Try Sci-Lab (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602922)

Vanilla Octave is quite limited, but have you tried using it along with Octave-Forge [sourceforge.net] ?

In my experience, this tips the balance of available uses in favor of Octave.

Re:Try Sci-Lab (4, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602959)

[1] In addition to the point made by the other poster in reply to this, scilab also seems to be technically "non-free" in the libre' sense, even though noncommercial use is free.

[2] Octave, on the other hand, is GPLed.

[3] As for signal processing, do see section 17 here:
http://octave.sourceforge.net/index/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Down with MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602642)

Octave is the closest thing, but matlab is still best at what it does.

It may be a resource hog, but its certainly very stable (at least in my experience).

Octave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602644)

Re:Down with MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602665)

Mathematica, hands down.

Re:Down with MATLAB (5, Interesting)

Strontium-90 (799337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602701)

If you're doing symbolic work, then Mathematica is the program to go with. But if you're doing numerical linear algebra and either don't need the speed of C/C++/Fortran or don't want to deal with those languages, it's kind of hard to beat Matlab. One nice combo is Maple/Matlab. Maple can call Matlab for numerical linear algebra work, and Matlab can call Maple for symbolic work.

Despite all of the people who complain about Matlab being unstable and using up resources, I've always found that running the command-line version of Matlab is fast and stable. The GUI version has some nice features, but they usually aren't essential to the work that I do.

Re:Down with MATLAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602721)

How does Maple compare to Mathematica performance wise?

I would love some nice integration, but the last time I tried Maple (version 7, waay back) performance was abysmal compared to Mathematica.

Hopefully things have changed for the better.

Re:Down with MATLAB (1)

carn1fex (613593) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602926)

matlab has a symbolic toolkit now. I havnt tried it but im buying it soon, and im excited.. damn im a dork.

Re:Down with MATLAB (1)

xenotrout (680453) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603105)

Matlab's symbolic toolkit is based on Maple. The simplify function doesn't always seem to work as well as it could. I haven't really used it much, I mostly do numerical (and plotting). Cosine doesn't quite work right, either (1e15 when it should be 0, IIRC). Maybe it's a floating point precision thing.

Re:Down with MATLAB (1)

eh2o (471262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603301)

mathematica's numeric capability has vastly increased with version 5, which makes it a strong matlab competitor. mathematica expressions can also be compiled to remove the type polymorphism and interpreter overhead.

Can't get engineers to use anything else (3, Informative)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602801)

After an entire semester introducing a framework to do certain numerical computations in Java, and explaining that most of the Matlab functions are implemented in Fortran, C/C++, and more recently Java and that Matlab is really just a way of scripting numerical algorithms written in those other languages, students go off and do their semester project in Matlab.

Matlab is the Visual Basic of numerical computing -- a hodge-podge of grafted-on features. Yes, it gets a job done, yes it promotes code reuse because of the extensive numerical and graphing libraries, but as a "teaching language" it is weak on important concepts, and it is proprietary as all anything, turning engineering colleges into trade schools for MathWorks. And once engineering students glom on to it, you cannot, just cannot get them to use anything else.

I don't care if they implement a numerical algorithm in C++ or if they implement a numerical algorithm in Java -- both of those languages are pretty much callable from anything else on a wide variety of platforms. Yeah, you can call into Matlab too, but is there a free runtime you can download like with Java? And any kind of numerical algorithm using looping instead of built-in vector operations is going to be dog slow, so it is useless for any "production" use (in an academic environment, production use is where you throw a problem at it that taxes the capacity of whatever generation computers you have -- otherwise it is a toy numerical problem where everything you can discover with it has already been done.)

Re:Can't get engineers to use anything else (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602917)

Err, right, but isn't matlab for trying out ideas and prototyping?

It's not for producing finished computing products.. it's for exploring math.....

The same reason I'll do up a diagrom for some new code on the whiteboard, instead of in C....

Re:Can't get engineers to use anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603092)

Smack on the mark.

I've encountered one too many Engineering-based research/commercial operations which often confuse exploring ad hoc solutions to mathematical models with Matlab, with that of creating useable software that can be sold. The resulting code is difficult to "productise" without a major rewrite in a more widely accessible programming language (C, C++, Java, etc) which allows at least some form of support by software engineers.

Matlab is a tool for analysis. It is not a means to systematically program large-scale simulations. (The language doesn't even provide the necessary reference semantics nor instance uniqueness to provide true OO-styled programming proported to be provided in this language).

Re:Can't get engineers to use anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603005)

Those in computer science need to realize that engineers and scientists see computers as a means to an end, not an end to itself. MATLAB gets the job done, and the aforementioned folk don't really care what the c.s. folks think of it. What matters is the results that come from the computation. Heck, the engineers I know would still be using slide-rules and hand calculators if they could.

open source? (0, Troll)

jeffmock (188913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602620)

open source code for a proprietary platform? I don't think so. I suspect RMS would call this sharecropping. Totally uninteresting.

Re:open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602899)

Actually RMS would pretend to have never heard the term "open source" before and to have no idea what you were talking about, until you either said "free software" or gave up.

RMS is a windbag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602920)

"I am a goat fucker!" -Richard Stallman, 1994

A bit of MIT/LCS lore here.

RMS used to live on the 7th floor of LCS. That's where he used to have his office before he resigned in protest over the commercialization of something or another. But they let him keep his office, and he lives there, because he refuses to have an apartment. (Given the rent rates in Cambridge, the assholeness of most landlords, I don't blame him. Rather than live in my office, I chose to move to Texas, and the change in rent rates and lack of state income tax resulted in an immediate %25 pay raise. RMS doesn't have that option because we have the death penalty for people like him down here.)

Anyway, RMS has or had a number or geek chick groupies. I wouldn't call any of the ones I've seen "hot", really -- well except for this one little psycho jewish undergrad from NYC. He would sleep with them on the sofa in his office. That's why he got kicked out off floor 7, and down to the 3 floor, is that the cleaning staff complained about pulling used condoms out from behind the sofas. No joke. You can use this information for trolling if you wish, but it's all true.

RMS has a phobia of water that prevents him from showering. This is part of this post I know from first hand experience, because I myself have observed him taking a sponge bath in the 3d floor mens room in LCS. Apparently once he had a girlfriend who he was totally in love with, and she convinced him to take one shower a week. It was a traumatic experience for him each time.

RMS also has a phobia of spider plants. When RMS starts bothering a grad student and going to his office and talking to him constantly and getting him to spend all his time writing free software, the grad student will complain to someone on the floor, and they'll let them in on the secrete -- get a spider plant in your office. The next time RMS drops by, his eyes will bulge a little and he'll say " Umm. . . I wanted to talk to you about hacking some elisp code . . . why don't you stop by my office sometime ?" and make a hasty exit.

One of his more nasty habits is picking huge flakes of dandruff out of his hair while talking to you. At least he doesn't eat them, like some people I know.

Now, I know everyone loves to make fun of RMS, and I'm feeding that a bit here, so I'd just like to say that I think he really is a genius, on the order of Socrates (another filthy slob who couldn't keep a normal living arrangement, and lived in a barrel) or Ghandi or Ezekiel. Everything he has ever said to me, while sounding naive and idealistic and stupid at the time, turned out to later be correct.

The only thing I fear in his philosophy is his interest in reducing population growth. Everyone else I know of who was obsessed with that "problem" turned out to have facist or totolitarian tendencies, and I think that the problem will solve itself as more and more of the world moves into a middle class type existence.

But on everything else, bitter experiences have taught me he is right. I will not use any non-GPLd or lGPLd software, and I look forward to being able to buy only "open" hardware. I would like to see software patents completely eliminated, and with the development of digitial communication, I see no reason why shouldn't simply repeal all of Title 17 and do away with all copyrights. They just aren't needed. I expect to spend much of my life being paid to write software, and I just don't see copyrights has helping me in anyway.

A day in the life of RMS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602935)

8am - Wakes up outside the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge as another bum shits on him. Thinks this sucks and that he would like an apartment, but can't find a landlord with an apartment that is free as in speech and beer. Falls back asleep.

9am - Wakes up again.

9:15am - Goes to men's room at MIT to wash shit off. Gives himself sponge bath. Shit comes off (somewhat), but he really isn't clean since he refuses to take a shower.

9:45am - Decides to shave 2 inches off beard after someone in MIT restroom mistakes him for Osama Bin Laden.

10am - Goes to McDonalds for breakfast. Gets into arguement with workers behind counter after they refuse to give him a free as in speech and beer breakfast. Also gets into arguement with the manager about why McDonalds should be called GNU/McDonalds due to the fact that he eats there.

11:30am - After being thrown out of McDonalds since the staff doesn't want a DGH deterring lunch rush, RMS goes to the McDonalds' dumpster to find food. Eats a "GNU/Quarter Pounder" and "GNU/fries" covered with "GNU/mold". He consideres the food better since it is free as in speech and beer.

12:30am - Goes back to MIT to recruit MIT students into writing free software. RMS is unable to enter anyone's office since everyone has placed spider plants in their offices. (He has a phobia a spider plants.)

1pm - RMS protests GWB (George W. Bush) for not being GNU/GWB and believing in copyrights. Wanders out of Cambridge and into Waltham. Police find RMS and arrest him for violating the ordinance that says he is not allowed to enter Waltham. (All towns surrounding Cambridge have this ordinace.) Police beat him and deport him back to Cambridge.

3pm - Goes back to MIT and creates a plan for dealing with overpopulation by killing everyone who uses non-free software. Writes code into next version of emacs to implement that feature

5pm - Tries to read email. RMS finds out he is dangerously over quota due to an email from Doctress Neutopia. This email is 65 megabytes of nothing but ASCII text. It is similar to an email he gets everyday since 1995 when he and Docress Neutopia had a brief fling. The email says that she would like to have a relationship with him, but he needs to accept her lovoution, stop his polygamous goat fucking and clean off the hair, dirt, food, and feces off his keyboard. RMS responds with a 9 megabyte email (of nothing but text) explaining that he could only consider getting into a relationship with her if she changed her name to GNU/Doctress Neutopia.

5:30pm - Reads rest of his email. His email is bombarded with trolls and goatse. RMS is turned on by the goatse and beats off to it.

6pm - Still beating off to goatse

7pm - Still beating off to goatse

8pm - Still beating off to goatse

9pm - Breaks into MIT vending machine to have a free as in speech and beer snack.

10pm - Breaks into a liquor store for free as in speech and free as in beer beer. Gets drunk.

10:15pm - Walks around drunk yelling, "Use free software!!!!", "It's GNU/Linux you capitalist pigs!!!!" and "I am a goat fucker!!!!".

11:45pm - Collapses in front of the Center for Marxist Education. Goes to sleep.

Re:open source? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603067)

"open source code for a proprietary platform? I don't think so. I suspect RMS would call this sharecropping'

Are you guys really that zealous about what OSS code is? It's a simple programming contest, not a web browser.

Re:open source? (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603124)

NatoGator's exactly right. If the code is open-source, even if it's for a "proprietary" platform, it means that any ideas or expressions in it can be implemented in other "purer" environments.

That's part of the monkeywork of programming, isn't it, taking implementations from one environment and implementing them in another?

Re:open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603101)

That MathWorks is really evil, their Simulink is buggier than....well mabe not like MS Word, but well

not a troll -- MW is more evil than M$ (4, Interesting)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603132)

An open source matlab contest is the same animal as if Microsoft held an open source Excel or Visual Basic contest... except that Matlab costs a lot more, and Mathworks tend to be a lot more evil in its licensing terms.

Matlab costs about $3500... but at my work, somehow it costs $70,000 a year because of some weird ass licensing scheme matlworks sticks large government labs with. I've tired to convince my project that for that money it makes more sense just to hire programmers to add whatever features we need to octave and go tell mathworks to fuck themselves.

Oh, and by the way... all of that money is still not enough to get you bug reports noticed. For that you need to pay for some sort of premiere program.

contests... octave.. (5, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602625)

Contests are a great and relatively cheap way for companies to attract attention.

While your attention is drawn to the non-free matlab, may I also point out Octave, the open source alternative freely (libre, beer) available on your machines.

On debian, apt-get search octav to see octave and extensions. Don't forget to install the additions octave-forge, etc. to get near-complete matlab equivalence. In some ways, it exceeds matlab, in some ways, it doesn't. And it is very compatible with matlab.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

dunc78 (583090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602689)

Care to name a few ways it exceeds Matlab besides being free?

Re:contests... octave.. (3, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602753)

> Care to name a few ways it exceeds Matlab besides being free?

sure

[1] I find matlab's "gui" "ide-interface" very annoying. I would much rather use emacs on my octave files.

[2] Running octave from commandline is much nicer.

[3] I don't have to sign an EULA to use it.

[4] I can open the source file for any file in octave. I can't do so for matlab. Evem if I am able to do so in matlab, I have to sign another eula for that.

[5] I can contribute improvements to octave.

[6] Install time for octave was a few minutes. the install time for matlab's trial version was long and frustrating. Add to that the additional time to "validate" your copy if you choose to buy it.

[7] I hate having to fill out intrusive surveys just to use a piece of software to do my work.

[8] and having to devote significant time checking licenses, and keeping track of license files.

[9] and having to pay for upgrades.

[10] The above reasons are way more important to me than technical reasons, because I think that open source solutions sooner or later trump proprietary alternatives for precisely the above reasons, but I guess your question pertained more to technical reasons, so:

[11] ability to view Source code is important to me.

[12] I don't know much more technically since I am not a "developer or even a significant power-user" of either :-), haven't used matlab since it was no longer forced upon me (which was in school)... The better-some/worse-some was just the general impression I guess from looking at the mailing lists.. and from having used matlab/octave (on the side) for 8 years...

It isn't without reason that octave also aliases its "--traditional" option as a --braindead option -- this option is said to be the most compatible with matlab.

[13] Octave carries with it all the niceties of being on a linux system... for example, I can use octave as a shell-scripting language..

[14] Every time you need to use any non-basic utility, say, finance tools, in matlab, you have to pay more-... which means you have to go through the whole chycle of approving/buying the product... it can take so many days.. by the time you are done with getting your companys' approval, then matlab's approval... then await shipment... by this time, you are no longer interested... you just wanted to try somethinmg out...

Re:contests... octave.. (2, Interesting)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602804)

And I was googling for scilab, when I came upon this thread, [google.com] which reminded me of a few points:

[1] if you are a linux users, you will hate matlab's interface. octave's readline-compatible interface just rocks. your standard bash shortcuts works. you may think that is small, but That really is a huge difference to me.

[2] excellent integration with the rest of linux, as you will see in the thread.. abiity to interface with c/c++ functions, etc. ability to pipe and be piped...

[3] history mechanism.. (which could have also been guessed from [1] above)

[4] great GNU emacs interface.

Re:contests... octave.. (2, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602883)

Did I mention another disadvantage of doing business with matlab:

* They will add you to their mailing list without you asking for it. If you raise hell about it, they will cheerfully point out how it is legal for them to spam you, since you did business with them. Will someone tell them that legal is not necc. same as ethical or even moral? IF it is legal for them to spam them, it is also legal for me to not do any more business with them.

* The funny thing is, they then said that since I raised hell, they will remove me from their mailing list, but i still keep getting spam from them.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602914)

Have you heard of filters?

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602934)

how nice of you to educate me about filters.

Presence of Filters doesn't make spamming legal or acceptable.

I am a linux user (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602940)

and I don't hate MATLAB's interface. Let's see, at the MATLAB GUI-command line I 'cd' and 'ls' to the correct directory, then execute an m-file by typing its name and pressing enter. I press ctrl-a to jump to the start of a line, ctrl-k to clear it. Also, this is the default install of the Windows version. Granted, instead of using the command line I can just click use GUI directory tree in the side panel, which is much faster. And to check the data produced, I can view the Workspace panel that lists the variable names, the data class and the values. Below that lies the command history, in an expandable tree to improve readibility, with date and time stamps. I can't really see how a linux user would have trouble with all of this, especially since all of the panels can be disabled leaving one with only the command line.

Re:I am a linux user (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602967)

> I can't really see how a linux user would have trouble with all of this

I don't have trouble with this, but with the missing features. C-a's working news is new to me, didn't know matlab has it now. But How about C-y to yank the selection, btw? Does C-k kill partial stuff? Does M- skip words?

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602880)

Matlab can be run in a terminal, though not quite as nicely at octave (since it can't use readline). Furthermore, even in the workshop, you can set your editor to emacs rather than the built-in editor.

Almost all of matlab toolboxes are written in matlab -- you can read and modify them as you need.

I love octave, and use it extensivly, but Matlab is technically far superior, both in functionality and performance (most of the time), though octave tends to have cleaner/more flexible interfaces to the functionality that does exist. The license management is annoying, though (not to mention expensive). Luckily, our university has a site license, so it doesn't cost us so much.

Of course, octave loads much faster (even when you don't load matlab's JVM).

what? (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602904)

Wow, that's the worst list of reasons (for anything) I've ever seen. You duplicate reasons with slight variations ([1] and [2], [11] and [4]) or list items that are non-issues (for [1], you can use emacs with m-files as well, for [13], MATLAB is available for Linux and OS X). Reasons [9] and [14] are explicitly not what the parent requested ("besides being free"). [12] isn't even a reason at all supporting that Octave is better than MATLAB. None of them relate to math computational differences between the two (which solves ODE's more efficiently? which can better processes imagery data?). Your entire post is redundant fluff.

And MATLAB's command line (integrated within the GUI) by default uses emacs shortcuts, though I'm a vi user myself.

Re:contests... octave.. (4, Informative)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603023)

A lot of these items are FUD.
1) You can choose any editor you want to write your matlab code. You just need to run it in octave. Since octave has a command line interpreter, you can show the result with any editor that can display the results of a run command (emacs will do this, too)
2) Yeah...it has readline, but that's about it.
3) Poster asked, besides being free...this is part of the price.
4) Not true. Any code not written in C, which is a good many of the numerical algorithms Matlab includes, have available source so that you can integrate the algorithms into any finished products (Matlab is for prototyping).

Other than that, you're asking for more than is really needed to extend the functionality.
5) Octave has a code repository. If they like what you write they use it. In other words, you can contribute to Octave.

6) Your fault/FUD. It took me about ten minutes.

7) I didn't have to. More FUD? Obviously this isn't a universal procedure.

8) I've never looked at my License file. I never track what it's doing. This has never been an issue.

9) See issue #3

10) Is this even a reason?

11) See issue #4

12) Obviously you don't have very good reasons. I will present some good reasons after we get through this.

13) This is true of Matlab as well. Try typing "ls" in Matlab and see what happens.

14) See issue #3

Having said all that, let me tell you why you should be using Octave.

The biggest reason is the free as beer thing. Matlab+ all packages needed is astronomically expensive. It's a big deal. We're not talking Microsoft-who-sells-to-consumers expensive - we're talking big-contractors-who-work-for-Engineering-firms expensive. It's kind of like the difference in price between Oracle and Postgres.

However, SOMETIMES it's worth it. As an Engineering student, I've tried and used regularly Matlab's image toolbox, Matlab's neural net toolbox, and their symbolic toolbox, and compared it to the normal canned algorithms.

Matlab is very, very good. They put an extra polish on every algorithm they write. In general, they're better written, and produce more clever results than anything else. Keep in mind that I was dealing with underconstrained problems, so the issues where matters of estimation. Matlab got more accuracy or faster convergence out of it's canned algorithms than you'd get if you wrote them straight from the descriptions supplied by the algorithm's authors.

Having said that, it's quite likely that there are certain areas that Octave will probably eventually fall behind. Symbolic work is one, I think, since their symbolic toolbox is actually an interface to Maple's symbolic engine, which they rent.

Maple doesn't have the manpower to compete with the OSS people writing computer algebra systems. IMHO, right now it's about tied. Three years ago Maple was ahead.

Re:contests... octave.. (2, Informative)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602703)

On debian, apt-get search octav to see octave and extensions. Don't forget to install the additions octave-forge, etc. to get near-complete matlab equivalence. In some ways, it exceeds matlab, in some ways, it doesn't. And it is very compatible with matlab.

Octave has also been ported to MacOS X, and is available via Fink.

I agree, I have found octave *very* compatible; in my Quantum Mechanics class, we have frequent Matlab assignments, and I am able to cut/paste code directly between the systems, with no errors so far (but there was one Octave rendering bug with multiplot).

I don't know how Octave/Matlab stack up performance-wise for professional use, but for student use, it is ideal.

Re:contests... octave.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602712)

In my experience Octave is usually as fast as Matlab for most code. It does have more bugs though, so watch out for strange behaviour.

The problem is the vast libraries from matlab, which are simply not available with octave.

Re:contests... octave.. (3, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602766)

> The problem is the vast libraries from matlab, which are simply not available with octave.

did you install octavre-forge? A lot of Octave is almost like the basic engine in comparison to forge, IMO... forge is like the car build on top of it...

See this page too:
FORGE PAGE [sourceforge.net]

and

my links [gnufans.net]

Re:contests... octave.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602802)

Damn.. I hadn't realized that Octave has grown so. It certainly does everything *I* need now.

Stuff like this reminds me of why I love the free/open source community so.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602842)

> Damn.. I hadn't realized that Octave has grown so. It certainly does everything *I* need now.

That link has menus for each broad field, from finance to statistics to image processing. There's also a "compatibility page" showing the (few) remaining differences between octave and matlab.

Finally, (i said in another thread, sorry for repeating) don't forget to apt-cache search octav, to see other debian packages built on top of octave...

* octave-forge -- most important
* octave.*emacsen
* octaviz
* octave-sp
* octave-plplot
* matwrap
* octave-epstk
* octave-statdataml

Re:contests... octave.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602723)

I'm surprised that Mathworks doesn't give out free licenses to students. They do have a cheaply-available student version, but I think they'd attract more potential users if they allowed students to use it for free.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602732)

Not libre, but also check out MuPAD. I use it quite often in addition to Octave when I tutor. MuPad and Octave do 100% of the mathematics required for Calc 1-3 and with some work, did everything I needed for other analysis courses. I can't speak to Matlab since I'm not a user, but the free alternatives, at least on the beginning calculus levels, are as easy to use as Mathematica. The graphical output is not as refined, but with Gnuplot and some (shameless plug) resourcefullness [digitalhermit.com] can do much of the same things... (well, if you speak TeX :D ).

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

BobKagy (25820) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602938)

And it is very compatible with matlab.

I've read the comments posted to this story, and decided again to look into Octave. A quick google pointed me to the categorized list of Octave & Octave-Forge functions. [sourceforge.net] . This list is fairly complete, and extremely useful because it lists what's missing.

Unfortunately, its missing a lot of features I've grown accostumed to using in Matlab. switch...case and varargin / varargout were two that jumped out at me. It appears the functionality is provided, but not in a compatible way.

Ah well. Half of my work is done in Simulink anyway, and the libre equivalent [berkeley.edu] I've seen most people point to stacks up about as well.

Re:contests... octave.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602965)

Enough griping. There's what, one, two functions out of a hundred that are missing? Provide them, and free yourself from the bondage to proprietary software.

It seems everyone is waiting for someone else to make their life easier.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

BobKagy (25820) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603006)

Ah well, yeah. I've thought about doing that once or twice.

But I've clicked the I agree button on Matlab's license. Worse, I've signed the NDA to see what's coming in the next release. I wouldn't want to put the Octave project at risk.

There are times I think people need to look beyond Richard M. Stallman's views on software [gnu.org] and take his other political views [stallman.org] seriously as well.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602977)

> Unfortunately, its missing a lot of features I've grown accostumed to using in Matlab. switch...case and varargin / varargout were two that jumped out at me. It appears the functionality is provided, but not in a compatible way.

hm, i use swictch routinely in 2.1.57. that list is probably a bit old. Octave currently has alot of features that are not documented in manuals one finds online, from sparse matrices to cells.

my 2.1.57 does have varargin and varargout.

Re:contests... octave.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603082)

sorry i had also meant to mention about octave --traditional in the above.. and wondered if that would fix the noncompatibiltiy you encounter.

Be Wary of Conclusions about Programming Contests (3, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602631)

Invariably, in contests of this nature, people are apt to draw specious conclusions from the results of the contest. In a recent programming contest involving teams of students from across the globe, the American teams performed poorly. Professor Matloff then rebutted the cries for government intervention to increase the quality and quantity of computer-science students [com.com] .

Now, this Matlab contest is positioned to lead to the same silly cries. So, allow me to present a link to Professor Matloff's excellent article [com.com] to head off any silly speculations about the decline of American technical prowess.

Re:Be Wary of Conclusions about Programming Contes (1)

mtrisk (770081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603052)

Non-sequitor - why would anyone in their right mind draw any conclusions about American technical prowess from this story?

As far as speculation goes, I'd say that using a Wiki method allowing competitors to change other entries is probably not the fairest way to run a contest, although it is interesting.

Don't blame me (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603312)

My team made 11th in the ACM contest; my teammates choked, or we would have probably made top 5 at least (this from a no-name American university). I, however, was outstanding. Yet still I have no job...shoulda taken IBM up on its offer.

Seriously, though, it was PC games that got me into programming. Back then, one guy could write a game and sell it. Not so nowadays. Most kids are playing on closed platforms, playing games that take dozens of people to write. I remember fiddling with the EGA barrel rotator...nowadays its all thick, poorly documented (and often broken) API. Ten years ago, you had to sign an NDA and pay $20-40k to program a console. I had Turbo Pascal with a No Nonsense license at $99.

TLL280 in 13 seconds? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602649)

I guess for their speed programming award they are allowed to have prior source. If this wasn't the case, the author would have written it at 393 characters per second!

I'm beginning to wonder if this was rather some sort of PR effort rather than a true programming challenge.

Re:TLL280 in 13 seconds? (1)

FluxInductor (782312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602711)

MATLAB makes most of its money from companies and schools. This contest attracts single people. I don't think they would increase their already sizeable profits much from converting a few hundred individuals.

Re:TLL280 in 13 seconds? (1)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602735)

MATLAB makes most of its money from companies and schools. This contest attracts single people. I don't think they would increase their already sizeable profits much from converting a few hundred individuals.

No, but the people who take this contest will grow up to work for those companies and educational institutions.

They will then wish to use the tools they are familiar with, thus increasing the demand for Matlab.

Also, these people will forever have an image of MathWorks in their minds as a "good", "helpful", "fun", etc. type of company, which also increases Matlab's mindshare.

Being nice is good business.

Re:TLL280 in 13 seconds? (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603122)

Well, at 5 letters per word that translates to 80 WPM, common among programmers. Also, I've not looked at the code, but there is such a thing as copy and paste.

Wow, ironic... (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602741)

I was just reading an email from an SEAP (Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program) rep, and one of the projects I could possibly work on this summer is one using MATLAB to find cross-correlation between LiDAR density data and hi-res images (satellites, planes, etc.) to correct for movement, atmospheric reflection/refraction, angles, etc. and produce accurate and scaled vertical images.

And now I see this. Uncanny.

I Always Write my MATLAB Open Source (4, Interesting)

schestowitz (843559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602744)

All my MATLAB code is Open Source. And I am the most popular author (jointly with Luigi Rosa) this month. http://www.mathworks.nl/matlabcentral/reports/file exchange/top10Authors/ [mathworks.nl]

Re:I Always Write my MATLAB Open Source (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602947)

Do you also post it to the octave-source mailing list? The list also has a newsgroup gateway through gmane.

Re:I Always Write my MATLAB Open Source (1)

schestowitz (843559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603018)

I love the idea of running my code in an Open Source environment. I have just given Octave a shot, but it refuses to compile on SuSE.

Octave might need to mature further before it is becomes a practical replacement to that clumsy resource hog called MATLAB.

The Problem (5, Informative)

HillaryWBush (882804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602783)

Imagine a sandbox in which there are ants, sugar cubes, anthills, and rocks. Ants like sugar: collectively they want to bring as many sugar cubes as possible back to their anthills before sunset.

For this contest, you will write the control program that each ant carries with it. Ants, being so small, have some limitations, of course. Each ant can carry no more than one sugar cube at a time. Further, each ant can only see her local vicinity. Your program, which is run sequentially for each ant, knows only what that ant knows. Thus you must bring about the best possible global outcome based only on local conditions. The ants don't have any memory as such, but they can leave behind a chemical trail to guide themselves and others across the sandbox landscape.

Your score is determined by how much progress you make moving food towards and into the anthills. Ideally your ants will move all the sugar cubes onto anthills. Practically this may not be possible; do the best you can. You receive credit even by moving one sugar cube one step closer to an anthill.

Re:The Problem (1)

Harish Rallapali (876469) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602852)

Is Matlab really the best for this problem? In my AP Computer Science class, we had a Marine Biology Case Study (which became progressivley more complex) and it [Java] seemed to handle things relativley well. Wouldn't a C++/Java/other implementation be a lot more reasonable, considering programmer availablity and code speed? Does Matlab offer something that the other big languages don't?

Re:The Problem (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602898)

Matlab is much faster to program in than lower level languages such as C++ and Java. Think of it as perl for numerical computing. For doing matrix math, Matlab usually stacks up pretty well against lower level languages. Of course, you can do as well in C++ (or whatever), but Matlab is usually fast off the bat.

Also, if you are working with scientists, rather than computer "scientists" availability of Matlab programmers far exceeds java programmers.

Re:The Problem (2, Funny)

antdude (79039) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603033)

When the contest winners are revealed, will I be able to see these math solutions without MATLAB program? I would love to see the results. I am not familiar with this program and I am an ant freak. :)

familiar contest with ants . . . (2, Informative)

bodrell (665409) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602786)

I read in Scientific American not long ago about using the (software) ant strategy to find a solution to the traveling salesman problem, or something in that family of problems. I think it was lumped together with swarm technology, but I don't have the magazine with me, so I can't be more specific than that. I do know that DNA "computers" have been used to solve such combinatorial problems. This sugar cube problem is very similar--no exact solution, but you can converge on something close to exact.

Anyway, you want to find the shortest route that goes through n number of cities. I know in one variation of the problem you can't hit the same city twice, but I don't know if that constraint applied in this case. The ants leave a "pheremone trail" which evaporates after a certain amount of time. If the ants start out randomly choosing routes, but over time the routes with more software pheremone are reinforced, because the ant objects choose those paths preferentially.

Just how bad is MATLAB? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602792)

Since we're talking about a *programming* contest MATLAB, just how horrible a programming language is it? I've been told that MATLAB's sole value lies in its large suite of libraries, because as a language it borders on the God-Awful. Some real horror stories: no true local variables, until recently each function had to reside in its own file, no way to create cyclic references (!!!) (resulting in only reference counting for GC or something), no general-purpose objects, much less notions like OOP, closures, and the like. The phrase "it makes FORTRAN look advanced" came up. Can someone elaborate?

Re:Just how bad is MATLAB? (1)

12 inch pianist (835625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602984)

MATLAB(5.x) is just C with matrices as the only datatype. It is actually pretty easy to use and has a ton of built-ins. Later versions do allow OOP. I wouldn't write a web server in it, but if you want to crunch numbers it is really handy.

I can, a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603009)

MATLAB's "nested" functions only promote messy programming (a good example of when NOT to add a feature). It is not an OOP language. But you have to remember, MATLAB is not meant for creating operating systems or media players. It's an engineer's ad hoc language, used to solve specific problems as quickly as possible, elegance and flexibility be damned. Sure, a computer scientist using C++ (with the approprate libraries) could code something more refined than the equivalent MATLAB code. It might handle a wider variety of inputs, perform better error checking and might even be fewer lines of code. But the engineer with MATLAB will get the data he needs to do his job, faster.

Re:Just how bad is MATLAB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603013)

Mathematica it ain't, that's for sure.

Mathematica is OO, logic-based, declarative, pattern-matching, aspect-oriented, procedural, functional, declarative, it is just *sick* and is definitely "everything but the kitchen sink".

Re:Just how bad is MATLAB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603134)

It is sick? Perhaps your computer has a virus?

When did Matlab become commercial? (3, Interesting)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602815)


When I last used Matlab, we used it just for the matrix calculator and, IIRC, it was free. When did it become a commercial product? Did I miss something or was just not paying attention back then?

Re:When did Matlab become commercial? (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602831)

It was always a proprietary product, so either whoever supplied it to you (your school, perhaps) paid for it, was given copies by Mathworks, Inc., or pirated it.

Re:When did Matlab become commercial? (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602859)


I *knew* you were going to say that. Good thing I don't have a 5.25" drive anymore.

Re:When did Matlab become commercial? (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602857)

> When I last used Matlab, we used it just for the matrix calculator and, IIRC, it was free. When did it become a commercial

Matlab seems to have a policy of supplying very cheap or free copies for schools.. with the effect that generations of students grow up on the "free" matlab ( i certainly did). When they go out of school, they then realize how expensive it is (just the basic matlab). And each additional component (say, simulink circuits package) costs a pretty penny extra...

Re:When did Matlab become commercial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12603295)

Matlab seems to have a policy of supplying very cheap or free copies for schools
You mean "Mathworks." And almost every single software company on earth has the same policy.

Re:When did Matlab become commercial? (3, Informative)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602858)

Yes you missed something. Matlab sells software subscriptions for around $2k per year and extra for application specific modules - I would call that commercial.

They ticked me off last year when we late for our subscription payment and they charged us 20% for an adminstration fee which accounted for around $3500.

This is why I read above about SciLab with interest. I would love to find a solution that meets our needs so can cancel our subscription and hopeful convince others where I work to convert.

Mathworks has achieved a sort of monopolist position with certain engineering and scientific fields and behaves accordingly

ROTS (1)

hardcorebuttsecks (871562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602845)

Padme dies after giving birth to the twins. Anakin loses his legs and his other arm. Obi-Wan kills General Grievous with a blaster. Chancelor Palpatine is Darth Sidious. Sidious kills Mace Windu.

Re:ROTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602988)

OMG You Fucking Monster!!!! No!! THIS WILL NOT STAND!!!

MATLAB is cool (1, Insightful)

Radio Shack Robot (640478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12602892)

I am an EE. At first I hated Matlab, because it's totaly matrix based, nothing like Fortran. But after actually implementing DSP techniques, I came to love MATLAB.

SCILAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12602953)

That's what we are using here at MIT: http://scilabsoft.inria.fr/ [inria.fr]

Does one of the entries... (-1, Troll)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603014)

...make arrays start at zero or allow ^C to interrupt a running program? No? Then wake me up when someone finally figures out how to make Matlab tolerable to use.

Re:Does one of the entries... (3, Informative)

headhot (137860) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603319)

um.. i=0:1:10.
Or do you mean address the first element with 0? Who cares if you start with zero, get used to it and move on.

If you use Matlab in a Unix enviornment ^c works.

Zero Pee R (0, Troll)

jfonseca (203760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12603100)

According to Google this contest page is not to be taken seriously. It's a PR 0 page...

Google says, me do. Next story please.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>