[Kst] How about kmathlab ?

Barth Netterfield netterfield at astro.utoronto.ca
Mon Oct 3 19:40:01 CEST 2005



On October 3, 2005 09:55 am, Brisset, Nicolas wrote:
> Dear kst users and developers,
> There is something I have been pondering over for quite some time, and
> considering the vitality of kst I figured I might ask the question here:
> how in your opinion could the KDE community develop a viable alternative
> to Matlab ?
> Mathworks (the editor of Matlab) is the Microsoft of scientific
> engineering: same practices, same trap, same outlandish prices, same
> relationship with customers (purely commercial). I know a lot of
> companies who are very angry at Mathworks, even though they continue to
> pay their "tax" in the absence of decent competition. There are a few
> packages that try to rival Matlab, but they lack a lot of maturity to
> really allow users to change over.
> Scilab is probably the most comprehensive and advanced of those, but
> just start it and play with it for a while, you'll understand what I
> mean by "not mature". It has some nice functionality, but before people
> with real-world needs start considering scilab as a viable alternative,
> it needs to add:
> - decent looks and a modern GUI
> - the possibility to develop user interfaces with more than tcl/tk
> - good graphics functionality
> - a real block diagram editor
> - more (interactive ?) toolboxes
> - etc...
> I have been following scilab progress for about 5 years now, and I am
> really disappointed. They have quite a lot of means, and progress is
> really slow. I suspect this is linked with a rather bad infrastructure,
> although that has been improving in the last months with the creation of
> the Scilab consortium. The code is mostly F77, the interfaces are old
> X11, or tcl/tk and recently a bit of gtk (but mostly looking like the
> old interface). Well, you get the idea...
> So, now I'd like to throw a few ideas into the arena. What would a good
> kmathlab package need ? What could serve as a basis to develop it ? Here
> is my list, probably too vague and incomplete but at least it's a start:
> - a core for numerical computation (think gsl or lapack, but there are
> probably   many others) with a command-line interface
> - a 100% Matlab-compatible parser (extremely important to keep the cost
> of migration low)
> - a way to develop nice user interfaces with callback script functions
> (think kommander ?)
> - good graphics (think kst + 3D extension :-) !)
> - a block diagram editor (think kivio) coupled with solvers (I'm sure
> that exists, even though I don't know them well) to allow simulation of
> dynamic systems
> - an interface with a computer algebra system (maxima or yacas for
> instance) so that parameters in the equations/state matices/transfer
> functions can remain formal and be instantiated only at the very end
> (this remark is probably a bit obscure, but I could develop it if there
> is interest)
> - ...
> Of course, reusing some parts of scilab or at least coordinating with
> them would also be a good idea.
> To sum up, it seems the open source (and specially KDE) world has a lot
> of components that could help in building a nice scientific engineering
> component, and I am sure that a lot of people would benefit from it and
> contribute. Imagine if Matlab users paid 1% of their Matlab licences to
> KDE to develop this :-) We just need to find a way to convince them, and
> people to do the development !
> Sorry for this off-topic post, but I am very interested in this question
> and somehow surprised that there does not seem to be much activity to
> try and fill the Matlab gap. Fell free to comment/flame/ask
> questions/start coding/transfer this message to more appropriate lists
> or people :-)
> Nicolas
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