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Maths Cafe graphic

Matlab. A word that strikes fear into the heart of so many poor souls across Bay Campus. Many believe that the program was developed to use as modern day torture. So why are so many lecturers telling us it helps? Is it purely because they enjoy our suffering?

Believe it or not, Matlab is actually a tool that can be extremely useful. I know, those words make you want to laugh, but it’s true. If you can get past the Bloodhound coursework in first year, the one that puts you off ever going near Matlab again, you may discover just how helpful it can be.

Just on a simple level, Matlab is brilliant for checking work. Matrix manipulation is essential in most degrees because, unless you live within that world in inside out where they cut through to get the train, the world is 3D. This means while exams are still living in the Stone Age and being written by hand, you need to get used to doing it by hand. However, if you can’t get the right answer, you will end up with pages of calculations that took forever and finding your mistake could take hours. The solution to your problems is Matlab. You can input your matrices and get Matlab do the work for you! At least this way you know your process is correct.

Matlab is also great because is it basically a high level programming languages (as much as I am told it isn’t real programming by EE students). You can write scripts that do repetitive calculations for you. Admittedly Excel can do this, but it’s much harder to store the data because you need the numbers contained in cells, whereas Matlab just stores a vector full of numbers in a single variable.

If you can try doing all your original calculations in Matlab or excel while you have some time in your first year or two at university, you will basically be a wizard by the time you get to your final years, and everyone will bow to your undeniable intelligence. Then again, if you decide you have too much to do to be dragging out your work and want to just get it done quickly, there is always the Maths CAFÉ for when you eventually get stuck!


Written by Aidan Pridham-Beard / @aidan_beardless,
MEng Civil Engineering with a Year in Industry,
10th February 2020

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