  ### What is MATLAB?

 The word MATLAB stands for MATrix-LABoratory. This site is where you're going to start your self-paced MATLAB training! This virtual lab is a program for high-performance numerical operations and visualization. It provides an interactive environment with a lot of built-in commands and functions for numerical analysis and graphics, and also provides easy

extensibility with its own high-level programming language.

There are numerous prepared commands for 2D and 3D graphics as well as for animation. The user is not limited to the built-in functions; he can write his own functions in MATLAB language. Once written, these functions work just like the internal functions. MATLAB's language is designed to be easy to learn and use.

The many built-in functions provide excellent tools for linear algebra, signal processing, data analysis, optimization, solution of ordinary differential equations (ODEs), and many other types of scientific operations.

There are also several optional 'toolboxes' available which are collections of functions written for special applications such as 'Image Processing', 'Statistics', 'Neural Networks', etc.

The basic building block in MATLAB is the matrix. The fundamental data type is the array. Vectors, scalars, real and complex matrices are all automatically handled as special cases of basic arrays. The built-in functions are optimized for vector operations. Thus, vectorized commands or codes run much faster in MATLAB (vectorization is a way of computing in which an operation is performed simultaneously on a list of numbers rather than sequentially on each member of the list).

A nice thing to realize is that MATLAB is primarily a numerical computation package, although with the 'Symbolic' Toolbox it can do also symbolic algebra. Mathematica, Maple, and Macsyma are primarily symbolic algebra packages. MATLAB's ease of use is its best feature since you can have more learning with less effort, while the computer algebra systems have a steeper learning curve.

In mathematical computations, especially those that utilize vectors and matrices, MATLAB is better in terms of ease of use, availability of built-in functions, ease of programming, and speed. MATLAB's popularity today has forced such packages as Macsyma and Mathematica to provide extensions for files in MATLAB's format.

We encourage the use of the on-line help. Typing 'help function' in MATLAB, with the appropriate function or command name, provides detailed help for any of the functions or commands available.

We discourage a passive working through this site. The best way to learn any computer software is to try it out. We believe this and encourage you to do it.  