Software Spotlight: MATLAB

girl at her laptop

By Dan Heuskin

Published March 12, 2017

MATLAB is incredibly powerful software for mathematical computation, algorithm development, data analysis and visualization and more. And it’s free for everyone at UB.



Daniel Heuskin (UB Student, Class of 2017) is originally from Long Island, NY. He is studying English at UB with aspirations to become a teacher or writer. In his free time, he enjoys playing bass guitar, doing nature photography, writing songs and reading.

What It Does

MATLAB is a high-performance programming language and coding environment in which problems and solutions are presented in accessible mathematical notation. It uses a highly intuitive interface in which data is easily plotted and graphical appearance is quickly modified.

MATLAB’s basic data element is the matrix, hence its name (short for “matrix laboratory”). The command line can be used as a sophisticated calculator for performing mathematical operations.

MATLAB’s powerful applications in research, development and analysis have made it a tool of choice for both academic and industrial practices.

Toolbox Feature

One of the most essential features of MATLAB is the toolbox—a collection of MATLAB functions (M-files) that you can use to solve complex problems. MATLAB contains numerous toolboxes with which you can learn to apply a variety of specialized technologies.

For instance, MATLAB offers a spreadsheet link function that enables you to access the MATLAB environment from an Excel spreadsheet and exchange data between MATLAB and Excel. Meanwhile, the Statistics Toolbox offers a variety of functions for describing, analyzing and modeling data. 

New Features in MATLAB R2016b

The latest version of MATLAB—Release 2016b—includes a vast variety of new features.

With MATLAB’s new Live Editor, you can create and run scripts live and pause the execution of a program. With new tall arrays, timetables, string arrays, and data preprocessing, you can manage and manipulate data with more control than ever before.

MATLAB’s workflow has been modified to function seamlessly with a variety of programs, devices, and languages. A new Engine API for Java lets you to run MATLAB code from Java programs and, with MATLAB’s new unit testing framework, you can generate Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF reports of test results. You can even upload data from your Android or iPhone device sensors directly to the cloud.

Graphics capabilities have been expanded, and the App Designer has an enhanced building environment. Enhanced performance means that you can render plots, execute tight loops, and construct objects faster and with less memory than ever before.