Digital Communication


Digital Communication

Python vs Matlab: comparison


Python and Matlab are two languages ​​with very different approaches. Above all, it is its open source approach and its greater flexibility that make Python the best choice in most cases.

Python vs. Matlab: two languages ​​for scientific research

If you want to learn how to program, there are several languages ​​to choose from. Many factors will help you determine which one is best suited to your needs. The type of project or application desired allows you to narrow the range to a few languages. For example, if you work in research scientific or mathematical and you are looking for the appropriate solution, your final choice should fall on two of them: Matlab and Python. While there are some commonalities between the two languages, the differences outweigh them. Let’s see who wins in this Python vs Matlab duel.

Advantages and disadvantages of Matlab

To better compare the two programming languages, let’s first take a look at their usage. This differs greatly between Python and Matlab. Matlab is a proprietary software and language developed by Cleve Moler at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and first published in 1984 with Steve Bangert and Jack Little under the company name The MathWorks. Originally, it was mainly aimed at the student population. Today, this is still the case, however companies also use Matlab and its numerous toolboxes. The name Matlab comes from the abbreviation of “Matrix Laboratory”.

Matlab is mainly used to solve mathematical problems and represent these solutions graphically. Originally, the language was intended for use with the Fortran LINPACK and EISPACK libraries and was intended to allow student classes without programming knowledge an easy introduction to linear algebra. Today, Matlab is used for numerical simulations, data analysis and predictive analytics. Its toolboxes make it possible to adapt the language to specific fields of application. Matlab is interpreted on the computer it runs on. In addition to the language itself, the software also includes a graphical desktop environment. Since 2000, the free libraries LAPACK and BLAS have taken the place of LINPACK and EISPACK.

Advantages of Matlab

  • Ease of use : originally, Matlab was designed to help the student world, an approach that is still felt today. With a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. It is even possible to perform and represent extensive data analyzes without much programming knowledge. Finally, Matlab is a complete package that also includes an interactive graphical user interface. Extensive knowledge of mathematics is nevertheless necessary to use all its possibilities.
  • Versatility : in its reserved areas, the language serves as a tailor-made solution according to requirements. With its different toolboxes, Matlab provides valuable assistance in mathematics, data analysis, biology, engineering and even in the field of finance. It makes daily work much easier.
  • Speed : by focusing on the essential, Matlab displays very fast processing capabilities. It performs and represents analyzes at high speed. Even processing a large amount of data is problem-free. Creating code also works very quickly with Matlab. Its interactive interface quickly detects errors to correct them directly.
  • Simulink : Simulink is software also distributed by The MathWorks and which works exclusively with Matlab. The program simulates systems in the areas of loop testing, rapid prototyping, robotics, signal processing and control technology. Simulink uses graphic blocks for this. Many companies use Simulink, considered particularly efficient.
  • Community : Matlab is a language steeped in history and has existed for a long time. The community of followers that supports this programming language may not be as large as that of other languages. On the other hand, they are often true experts dedicated entirely to Matlab and able to offer sound advice in the event of an error, bug or other problem.

Disadvantages of Matlab

  • Cost : Matlab is proprietary software. Although its cost may be negligible for a company, for example, it compares with many other completely free languages. Beginners who just want to learn how to program tend to choose other alternatives, especially since there are free options with similar strengths. Likewise, the different toolboxes are often billed separately. Ultimately, licenses are rarely purchased by private users.
  • Portability : this paid approach also entails restrictions in terms of portability and compatibility. It is of course possible to use Matlab on more than one computer but the options remain limited. The written code is often only accessible from a single machine. And the dedicated MCR (Matlab Component Runtime) application tends to show its limits.
  • Functions and algorithms : even if a minimum of learning is necessary to master Matlab, certain obstacles can quickly prove problematic. To find truly relevant solutions, it is better to have already identified the right functions and algorithms in advance, before acquiring them for use. Skipping this step can result in increased costs and significant delays.
  • Memory required : Matlab uses relatively little RAM, which can quickly become a problem when processing large groups of data. Memory requirements are growing exponentially and it’s better to avoid bottlenecks in advance to make regular usage smoother.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Python

A little younger than Matlab, Python follows a slightly different approach. When Guido van Rossum developed Python in 1991, he focused on code simplicity. This had to run with few words and signs and appear clear at first glance. The free and open source language has remained faithful to this principle until today. Meanwhile, it is maintained and developed by the Python Software Foundation, but many users also modify it according to their needs. Python is a dynamic, object-oriented, interpreted, and platform-independent language.

Benefits of Python

  • Open Source : one of the biggest advantages of Python is its open source approach. This means that not only is the language completely available for free, but anyone can also develop it as they wish, for themselves and others.
  • Versatility : the first consequence of this Open source aspect lies in its great versatility. Python finds applications in many areas, with use by large companies like Google, Spotify or Netflix. Individuals and small businesses have every interest in using this language, which is also implemented in working with AI, in software development and for web applications.
  • Learning curve : its original approach allows you to quickly obtain results and an optimal workflow. Python is very simple and has a clear structure. Even beginners can write their own code and complete projects with their first Python tutorial. While certainly one of the simplest programming languages ​​known, Python is nevertheless suitable for many different applications.
  • Portability : Python is a very flexible programming language. Not only by its numerous possibilities of use, but also by its independence from any operating system. It is possible to write code on one platform and reproduce it on another without any problem. Enough to make teamwork much easier.
  • Community : Python has a huge community. This is not just about constantly developing Python, creating documentation and quickly fixing bugs. She provides concrete support to newcomers, which makes learning even easier.

Disadvantages of Python

  • Speed : Due to its dynamic approach, Python can sometimes lack speed. The language remains poorly suited to large-scale projects with large data sets. The alternatives have much better performance.
  • Extensions : To accomplish scientific tasks with Python, you will need a few extensions. This concerns different packages like Numpy or Scipy and an integrated development environment. Although they are certainly available for free, they must still be installed first.
  • Mobile terminals : Python is not the most suitable language for working with mobile devices. Only a few development teams rely on this programming language to develop applications. It also doesn’t have basic compatibility with mobile operating systems like iOS and Android.

Python vs. Matlab: what are the differences?

Now that we have seen the two languages ​​and their particularities, let’s directly compare Python and Matlab.

Comparative syntaxes

The most obvious difference concerns the syntax of the two languages. This is what the basic Matlab syntax looks like:

% A MATLAB program illustrate
% disp function
disp ("Voici Matlab")


The same simple output in Python looks like this:

>>> print("Voici Python.")


Other differences

  • Ecosystem : Python has an interpreter and a standard library. It is necessary to add other components to it. This notably involves the development environment. There are also many extensions dedicated to scientific work. As Matlab is only available as a package, it includes its development environment in addition to the language itself. Other functions are possible in the form of toolboxes.
  • Continuous development : Python is constantly reworked and modified by its community. Normally, everyone can adapt the language to their needs. Matlab modifications are, for their part, exclusively the responsibility of The MathWorks.
  • Open source : unlike Python, Matlab is not Open source. It is only possible to use Matlab against payment with a license which can cost several thousand euros depending on the desired scope. Python, on the other hand, is always free.
  • Performance : Matlab is a solution that is as fast as it is efficient, provided you have sufficient memory space. This is where Python sometimes has some shortcomings and is slower when processing large amounts of data.
  • Learning curve : Python is significantly simpler than Matlab and requires little prior knowledge. Matlab is also structured in a very logical and understandable way but it is primarily aimed at people with good knowledge of mathematics.

Python vs. Matlab: which language to choose?

So, who wins the comparison between Python and Matlab? In most cases, the choice should fall on Python. It has the advantage of being much more complete, easier to learn and above all free. It is only when Simulink is needed that Matlab comes into its own. Until now, there is no alternative of comparable quality on the market. Afterwards, it is entirely possible to use the two languages ​​in parallel. It is still worth weighing up the price and the benefits provided before making this choice.

Want to learn more about Python? Take a look at our different comparisons between this language and its alternatives. Find our Python vs. Python comparisons. C++, Python vs. R, Python vs. Java or even Python vs. PHP.

Télécharger notre livre blanc

Comment construire une stratégie de marketing digital ?

Le guide indispensable pour promouvoir votre marque en ligne

En savoir plus

Souhaitez vous Booster votre Business?

écrivez-nous et restez en contact