MATLAB vs Python: a comparison for data science and engineering

Learn the differences between MATLAB and Python for data science and engineering tasks. Compare features, performance and ease of use.

MATLAB, which was made by MathWorks, has long been associated with engineering and computer analysis. MATLAB is known for being simple and easy to use. It offers a stable setting for working with matrices, showing data, and putting algorithms into action. It is a platform that researchers and engineers use a lot because it has a huge library of built-in functions and toolboxes for different fields, like signal processing and control systems.

Python has become very famous very quickly in many different areas because it is very flexible and has a large ecosystem of libraries. Libraries like NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib make Python better for scientific computing. They let users do complicated calculations, statistical analysis, and make high-quality visualisations. The language is popular among data scientists, machine learning experts, and researchers looking into a wide range of uses outside of standard engineering because it is easy to read and can be used for many different things.

MATLAB vs Python: Pricing

Paid software called MATLAB is used a lot in both education and business. It is a powerful environment for numerical computing. There is a fee for each licence, which is usually between $150 every month and $3,300 every year. Even though it’s expensive, MATLAB has big savings for schools, which makes it easier for researchers and students to use. It comes with a full set of toolboxes that can be used for many things, like signal processing, picture processing, and control systems.

While Python, on the other hand, has become very popular in research computing, in part because it is free and open source. Python is a good choice for personal and educational use because it is easy to get. Anyone can download, run, and change the language to fit their needs. There are a lot of libraries and systems for scientific computing, machine learning, and data analysis in Python’s ecosystem.

MATLAB vs Python: Comparison Table

Picking the right computer language for your projects is a very important choice that can have a big effect on your productivity, workflow, and the success of your projects. In the world of scientific computing, MATLAB and Python are two famous choices. Each has its own pros and cons. This detailed table compares MATLAB and Python and gives you a quick idea of the most important parts of each.

FocusNumerical computing, technical applicationsGeneral-purpose programming
Learning curveModerateEasier
CommunitySmaller, focused on STEM fieldsLarger, diverse
PerformanceCan be faster for specific tasksGenerally slower
VisualizationExtensive built-in toolsRequires additional libraries
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MATLAB vs Python: User Interface and Experience

MATLAB vs Python

MATLAB is known for having an easy-to-use graphical interface. It also has a well-organized workspace that works best for people who know how to use mathematical symbols. MATLAB’s setting is easy to navigate thanks to its simple layout. This makes it a great choice for people who like their workspaces to be organised and clear to see. The software is even more useful because it comes with specific toolboxes that contain specialised tools for areas like image analysis, signal processing, and control systems.

Python, on the other hand, is a text-based language that may not look as good as MATLAB. To work with Python, you need to use code editors or integrated development environments (IDEs). Python’s unmatched freedom and adaptability more than make up for the fact that it doesn’t have a graphical user interface. Python’s strength is its large community of libraries and frameworks that make it easy to use with a wide range of tools and environments.

MATLAB vs Python: Programming Language

MATLAB is a powerful tool for linear algebra and matrix functions. It is known for its syntax that is based on arrays. This one-of-a-kind feature makes complicated math calculations easier, so scientists and engineers can write methods in a way that sounds more natural and is easier to understand. The built-in functions in MATLAB are carefully thought out to be like mathematical ideas. This creates a setting that is easy to use and fits the way people think in scientific and engineering fields.

Python, on the other hand, is more flexible than just number computing because it can be used for many different things. Python is easy for scientists, engineers, data scientists, and hackers from different backgrounds to use because its syntax is clear and easy to read. This makes the code easier to read, which is helpful when working on projects together or keeping the software up to date over time.

MATLAB vs Python: Application Areas and Use Cases

A powerful programming language and environment called MATLAB has become an important part of many areas, including engineering, finance, and control systems. It is a popular choice among engineers and scientists working on complex mathematical models, signal processing, and simulations because it has powerful numerical computing features, large toolboxes, and an easy-to-use grammar. It is widely used in both academia and business, and its powerful visualisation tools and tight integration with hardware are two more reasons for this.

But Python’s ability to do many things has made it the most popular computer language. Python has become an important tool in many areas because it is open source and has a large collection of libraries. Python is popular in data science because it is easy to use and has a lot of tools, such as NumPy, Pandas, and Matplotlib, that make it easier to do things like manipulate data and show it visually. Frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch make it easy to build and use models, which is an important part of Python’s role in machine learning.

MATLAB vs Python: Syntax and Structure

MATLAB, which stands for “MATrix LABoratory,” is a computer language and environment made just for doing numerical calculations. Its syntax is designed to make mathematical processes easier, so users can explain complicated mathematical ideas in a clear and concise way. MATLAB is the programme of choice for engineers, scientists, and students working in signal processing, control systems, and image processing because it is very good at working with matrices, linear algebra, and mathematical modelling.

In contrast, Python is a flexible and all-purpose programming language that has become very famous in many fields, such as web development, data science, artificial intelligence, and more. Python’s syntax is known for being simple, easy to read, and simple to use. This makes it a great choice for both new and experienced coders. The language is based on the idea that “code readability counts,” which means that it stresses clean, easy-to-understand code. This makes it easier for new coders to learn.

MATLAB vs Python: Data Visualization and Plotting

The built-in MATLAB Plotting Library gives users a complete and easy-to-use set of tools for making different types of plots, like line plots, scatter plots, histograms, and more. Because it is made to work well with MATLAB, the library makes it easy for users to create, edit, and look at plots within the MATLAB environment.

However, Python, which is a flexible computer language, uses well-known libraries such as Matplotlib and Seaborn to show data. Matplotlib is a flexible and easy-to-customize plotting tool that lets users make a lot of different static, animated, and interactive plots. Seaborn, which was built on top of Matplotlib, adds another level of abstraction and makes it easier to make data visualisations that look good.

MATLAB vs Python: Numerical and Scientific Computing

MATLAB vs Python

There are a lot of powerful computer languages out there, and each one has its own strengths when it comes to numerical computing. The fact that MATLAB has a huge number of built-in tools designed just for numerical analysis and mathematical calculations shows how good it is at this area. Its syntax is made to make mathematical expressions and matrix operations easier. This makes it a great choice for engineers, scientists, and students who do a lot of work in signal processing, control systems, and image processing.

Python, on the other hand, has become a strong competitor in numerical computing, thanks to tools like NumPy, SciPy, and Pandas. NumPy stands out as an important library for numerical processes in Python. It supports large, multidimensional arrays and matrices and has a set of mathematical functions that make it easy to work with these types of data structures. Python’s features are expanded by SciPy to include more scientific computer features, such as signal and image processing, optimisation, and statistical analysis.

MATLAB vs Python: Performance and Speed

When it comes to raw numerical speed, MATLAB beats Python. MATLAB is a high-performance computer language that is mostly used for numerical computing and data analysis. This benefit comes from the fact that MATLAB is compiled and has many optimised libraries for different science and engineering uses. In particular, MATLAB is very good at areas like data processing and linear algebra, which shows how efficient it is.

Python, on the other hand, is a flexible and widely used language that is used for math computing. Python can catch up to MATLAB in terms of performance and even match its skills in some situations thanks to powerful libraries like NumPy. Python is a great choice for scientific computing jobs because NumPy makes it easy to do operations with numbers.


  • User-friendly GUI
  • Powerful numerical computing capabilities
  • Specialized toolboxes for various engineering domains
  • Excellent data visualization tools


  • Paid licenses
  • Array-oriented syntax can be limiting

Python: Pros

  • Free and open-source
  • General-purpose language with various applications
  • Extensive libraries and community support
  • Strong data science and machine learning capabilities

Python: Cons

  • Text-based interface requires command-line familiarity
  • Can be slower for numerical computations

Which one should you consider?

The decision between MATLAB and Python is one that is determined by the particular requirements of the project as well as the user’s prior experience. Python’s versatility makes it a go-to solution for a wide range of applications, whereas MATLAB excels in specific engineering and mathematical domains but is not as versatile as Python.


Can MATLAB and Python be used together?

They can, yes. Through the MATLAB Engine API, MATLAB can be connected to Python. This lets users use the best features of both languages in a single project.

Is MATLAB worth the cost for personal or small-scale projects?

It depends on the budget and needs of the job. Python’s open source nature could make it a cheaper choice for smaller projects or personal use. But MATLAB’s specialised toolboxes may be worth the price for some uses in business or research.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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