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Re: The future of Octave

From: Andy Adler
Subject: Re: The future of Octave
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 21:07:50 -0500

Some opinions on MATLAB compatibility.

1. Lots of people ask about Matlab compatility on this list.
   While some of the questions are about syntactical
   differences, these are the minority.

   Most questions are about functionality. People want
   sparse, fmins, spline, handle graphics, etc.
   I feel that these are legitimate issues: it
   would be great for octave to have this functionality.

2. If the functionality were available, then building
   a translator would be easy. Any DPH (desperate
   Perl Hacker) could whip one up in days.

3. In fact, one possible approach would be to hook
   liboctave onto Perl or Python. This would have
   several advantages.

   a. The syntax is more powerful and flexible.
      especially with OO. I have often found 
   myself writing convoluted algorithms to
   compensate for lacking language constructs
   in Matlab syntax.

   b. Interfaces to Graphical toolkits, such as 
      Tk, Win32, GTK, Qt are already implemented.

   c. Automagical Matlab syntax conversion (including
      warnings for missing features) could be 
   built in. Even an interactive mode wouldn't
   be hard too hard to build.

   (NOTE: I realize that there do exist Math subprojects
    for both Perl and Python. From my limited viewpoint,
 I don't think these are have anything like the
 power of octave)

This also has disadvantages. Neither Perl nor Python
syntax is ideal for Math. And joining a large community
that does not care about math would dilute the "focus"
that the octave community has.

For example, the otherwise excellent "Perl Cookbook"
says (p 44):
   These ... do not catch the IEEE notions of Inf and Nan, but
   unless you're worries that IEEE ... will beat you over the 
   head with the standards documents, you can probably forget
   about these strange numbers.

Since we're putting all the options on the table,
we may as well consider these ideas, too.

Andy Adler                        address@hidden

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