A Short Introduction to MATLAB®
MATLAB® (Matrix Laboratory) is a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation1 programming language. Versions of MATLAB® are available for almost all major computing platforms. The material in this book was produced and tested on a version (R2011_a) running on the Mac OS X environment but has also been tested on a Microsoft Windows environment. In addition to the MATLAB® system itself, Mathworks2 offers sets of Toolboxes, containing MATLAB® functions for solving a number of important types of problems.
The simplest way to execute MATLAB® code is to type it in the Command Window, which is one of the elements of the MATLAB® Desktop. For all but the simplest of tasks, however, it is usually preferable to save a sequence of commands in a text file (with the .m file extension) usually created and edited using the MATLAB® Editor. It is also possible to create functions that extend the commands available and the toolbox presented in this book is in fact a set of functions.
The key to using MATLAB® successfully lies in the user's ability to conceptualise data as square, rectangular, columnar and row matrices. Whereas most programming languages are based on ordinary algebra, whereby a symbol or name is used to represent a single numerical quantity, in MATLAB® every name is assumed to be a matrix and the names can be manipulated via the rules of matrix arithmetic.
In order to illustrate the use of MATLAB® let us consider the ...