[R] R vs Matlab: which is more "programmer friendly"?

Fan xiao.gang.fan1 at libertysurf.fr
Mon Apr 26 21:10:26 CEST 2004

To get more opinions, you might be also interested to take a
look at MATLAB newsgroup, there were some interesting threads
on the topic, for example:



Tamas Papp wrote:
> Hi,
> The department of economics at our university (Budapest) is planning a
> course on numerical methods in economics.  They are trying to decide
> which software to use for that, and I would like to advocate R.  The
> other alternative is Matlab.
> I have found comparisons in terms of computational time for matrix
> algebra, but I don't think that is relevant: the bottleneck for
> economists is usually the programmer's time: if it takes a couple of
> hours to write something that is run only a few times, one should not
> care whether it runs in 2 or 2.1 minutes...
> I am an economist, and I have used Octave, but only until I found R.
> So I am not in a position to evaluate Matlab vs R.  I would be
> grateful if somebody could compare R to Matlab, especially regarding
> the following:
> 1. How "smart" the language is.  R appears to be a nice functional
> programming language, is Matlab comparable?  Last time I used Octave,
> it seemed to be little more than syntactic sugar on some C/Fortran
> libraries.  It appears to me that using R gradually pushes people
> towards better programming habits, but I may be biased (I am a Scheme
> lover).
> 2. Learning curve.  If somebody could share his/her experience on
> using R or Matlab or both in the classrom, how students take to it.
> 3. Which language do you think is better for students' further
> development?  We would like to equip them with something they can use
> later on in their career even if they don't become theoretical
> economists (very few undergraduate students do that).
> 4. How flexible are these languages when developing new
> applications/functions?  Very few of the problems I encounter have a
> ready-made solution in a toolbox/library.
> Thanks,
> Tamas

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