About MATLAB MATLAB is an interactive software which has been used recently in various areas of engineering and scientific applications. It is not a computer language in the normal sense but it does most of the work of a computer language. Writing a computer code is not a straightforward job, typically boring and time consuming for beginners. One attractive aspect of MATLAB is that it is relatively easy to learn. It is written on an intuitive basis and it does not require in-depth knowledge of operational principles of computer programming like compiling and linking in most other programming languages. This could be regarded as a disadvantage since it prevents users from understanding the basic principles in computer programming. The interactive mode of MATLAB may reduce computational speed in some applications. The power of MATLAB is represented by the length and simplicity of the code. For example, one page of MATLAB code may be equivalent to many pages of other computer language source codes. Numerical calculation in MATLAB uses collections of well-written scientific/mathematical subroutines such as LINPACK and EISPACK. MATLAB provides Graphical User Interface (GUI) as well as three-dimensional graphical animation. In general, MATLAB is a useful tool for vector and matrix manipulations. Since the majority of the engineering systems are represented by matrix and vector equations, we can relieve our workload to a significant extent by using MATLAB. The finite element method is a well-defined candidate for which MATLAB can be very useful as a solution tool. Matrix and vector manipulations are essential parts in the method. MATLAB provides a help menu so that we can type the help command when we need help to figure out a command. The help utility is quite convenient for both beginners and experts.
Vector and Matrix Manipulations Once we get into MATLAB, we meet a prompt » called the MATLAB prompt. This prompt receives a user