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Getting Started with MATLAB: A Quick Introduction for Scientists and Engineers

Getting Started with MATLAB: A Quick Introduction for Scientists and Engineers

Author: Rudra Pratap

Publisher: Oxford University Press


Publish Date: November 16, 2009

ISBN-10: 0199731241

Pages: 288

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

I enjoy MATLAB , and I want you to enjoy it too􁟴that is the singular motivation behind this book. The first and foremost goal of this book is to get you started in MATLAB quickly and pleasantly.

Learning MATLAB changed the meaning of scientific computing for me. I used to think in terms of machine-specific compilers and tables of numbers as output . Now, I expect and enjoy interactive calculation, programming, graphics, animation, and complete portability across platforms􁟴all under one roof. MATLAB is simple, powerful, and for most purposes quite fast . This is not to say that MATLAB is free of quirks and annoyances. It is not a complete miracle drug, but I like it and I think you will probably like it too.

I first used MATLAB in 1988 in a course on matrix computation taught by Tom Coleman at Cornell University. We used the original 1984 commercial version of MATLAB . Although the graphics capability was limited to bare-bones 2-D plots, and programming was not possible on the mainframe VAX, I still loved it . Ever since, I have used MATLAB for all my computational needs, for all my work, and in all the courses that I have taught. I have given several introductory lectures , demonstrations, and hands-on workshops. This book is a result of m y involvement with MATLAB teaching, both informal and in the classroom, over the last several years.

This book has been around for 15 years now. The fifth edition is in your hand. With every new edition, I face a dilemma􁟴the temptation to add more material and my stubborn desire to keep it lean and thin. I have always tried to strike a balance. This book is not meant to be a manual or an exhaustive account of what MATLAB can do; it is meant to be a friendly introduction that can get you going quickly. Any software package as powerful as MATLAB is likely to have hundreds, if not thousands , of pages of documentation, both on-line and printed. In my experience, what a beginner needs is a filtered set of instructions and discussion that makes learning inviting, fun, and productive. Toward this goal, I have poured my two decades of experience with teaching and MATLAB computation into the pages that follow.

This book is intended to get you started quickly. After an hour or two of getting started, you can use the book as a reference. There are many examples , which you can modify for your own use. The coverage of topics is based on my experience of what is most useful, and what I wish I could have found in a book when I was learning MATLAB. Over the years, I have received numerous feedbacks on this book. Invariably, the chapter on tutorials (Chapter 2) has been hailed as the greatest strength of this book. Therefore, in this edition, I have strengthened that chapter by adding a few more tutorials that invite the reader to explore five different aspects of MATLAB computing. Chapter 2 is now divided into two parts-the basics (five tutorials) and the directional explorations (six tutorials) . The basics are meant to get you going within an hour, if you are a first-time user. Then, take a coffee break, and dive into more substantial tutorials of your choice-on arrays, anonymous functions, symbolic mathematics, exporting and importing data, navigating files and directories, or publishing reports. You do not have to go through the later tutorials serially. You can pick and choose. You can also come back to them later when you need to explore that particular aspect of MATLAB computing. Another maj or change in this edition is the chapter on Computer Algebra and Symbolic Math Toolbox, Chapter 8. MATLAB has changed the symbolic math engine from Maple to MuPAD. Although, this change is largely unnoticeable to casual users of the Symbolic Math Toolbox, it has prompted me to revise that chapter significantly. I have added some material that brings out the symbolic computation power available to the user by direct access to MuPAD functionality through the MuPAD notebook interface in MATLAB . In particular, I have tried to draw the attention of the reader to the powerful graphics capabilities of MuPAD. The current edition has been updated for MATLAB Release 2009a. Every update requires checking each command and function given in this book as examples , and changing them if required. One peculiar problem with bringing out a new edition of a book like this (to keep up with the new version of the software package) is to decide which aspects of software upgrade should be included. The new venlions of software packages usually add features that their experienced users ask for . As a result , the packages and their manuals get bigger and bigger, and more intimidating to a new user. I have tried hard to protect the interests of a new user in this book. To a new or an average user, most of the distinction in new releases of any software nowadays has to do with look and feel of the software, that is, the user interface. Most of that has to do with rearranged windows , menus, etc . ; pretty much like new models of cars-most of the changes are in head-lights, tail-lights, mirrors, etc . , not many in engines. Our focus on MATLAB is as a scientific computing and visualization tool. Therefore, I have chosen not to pay much attention to user interface features . I limit the attention to those features that a beginner cannot avoid noticing. If I could, I would like to keep the book largely free of MATLAD screen shots (and thus the dependency on the twicr-�-a-year release of MATLAB versions) . Almost every single command or feature discussed in this book should work j ust fine with MATLAB 2008 and 2009 releases. I do not expect any major changes in most commands and functiom; presented in this book with the new releases of MATLAB over the next couple of years. However, I do intend to keep a current list of change;; on this book’s web;;ite ( to safeguard your interest . Your feedback is very important to me . If you find the book informative and useful, it is my pleasure to be of service to you . If you find it frustrating, please share your frustrations with me so that I can try to improve future editions.

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