[Beowulf] Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for the perfect text)

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Nov 21 05:56:51 PST 2007

On Tue, 20 Nov 2007, Jim Lux wrote:

> Octave is nice, but.... the graphics are MUCH better in Matlab, and there's 
> all those toolboxes full of cool stuff (signal processing, control systems, 
> maps, etc.)
> And, an academic license for Matlab is only $100.  That's less than the 
> textbook likely costs.  Granted Matlab isn't quite as cool as the symbolic

"Only $100" is IMO highway robbery, especially for students.  And
toolboxes are typically separately licensed at similarly high cost.
Duke has a site license of sorts for students, but for a long time
faculty had to buy their own copies (or departments had to buy a copy
for them) even if they were using it to teach part of a course.  If you
have a department with order of 100 desktops, that "only $100" adds up
to $10,000, which is a truly absurd chunk of our department's entire
annual computing budget (outside of the much larger human costs).  We
literally would have to let the server/desktop replacement cycle stretch
out to have a hope of covering it.

With all that said, for engineering types (matlab use is taught and
required in the Engineering school) and for various research groups or
student uses matlab is OK.  But if you don't need a toolbox, octave
really is just as good and almost identical in terms of its command set,
and free is a lot better than $100, even for students.


Robert G. Brown
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
Lulu Bookstore: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=877977

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