learn matlab for beginner

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Anastasia on 30 Mar 2016
Answered: Matt Tearle on 6 Jul 2016
Hello! I am a PhD student in biology and I want to learn matlab since i can see that it is very useful in practice. However, my maths and physics levels of knowledge are not very good (high-school levels, not very advanced) and I have never done programming, so I have some difficulties understanding even basic concepts. What is the best way, books to begin for somebody at my level? Thank you very much!
Ced on 30 Mar 2016
Edited: Ced on 30 Mar 2016
It depends a bit on your learning style. Matlab as a huge number of capabilities, and it is easy to get lost in the beginning. But these points should help:
- Like all programming languages, learning by doing is probably the best approach for matlab.
- decide on a concrete problem you want to solve, e.g. "I want to plot a sinusoid".
- If you have no idea where to start, there are plenty of free online tutorials available, i.e. Tutorialspoint -- Matlab Introduction>. Google, Youtube, and the Matlab Documentation also have a lot to offer.
- You could ask your collegues if they have a small script for something you are working on. E.g. "Load data, interpolate data, compute mean and variance, plot data" seems like something which could be useful in biology. This could give you a concrete starting point. Once you have that, you will automatically start building on your past knowledge.
- Matlab Documentation : The Matlab documentation is, especially for basic functions, usually excellent. For each function, there are examples, and sometimes even tutorials.
Chad Greene
Chad Greene on 30 Mar 2016
Anastasia, you definitely do not need to understand advanced math to become an expert scientific programmer. All you need is a solid understanding of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. An intuition for logic is far more helpful than any advanced math courses, and that intuition will grow as you get experience with coding. You'll start out doing simple tasks in a roundabout, multi-step, convoluted manner and it'll seem overwhelming at times. But the more you practice, the more efficient you'll become.
If you're ever stuck, post a question on this forum and we'll try to help you out--no advanced math necessary.

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Answers (2)

Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 30 Mar 2016

Matt Tearle
Matt Tearle on 6 Jul 2016
Given that you have a MathWorks.com account, the easiest way to get started with MATLAB is already freely available to you: MATLAB Onramp at MATLAB Academy . This is a quick (~2 hrs), highly interactive intro training. You get a guided tour through the basics of MATLAB, trying it out as you go.
This should give you a good idea of what MATLAB can do for you. It will also show you what our online training is like, if you want to go further -- depending on your school's license set-up, you might already have access to all our courses (and, if not, academic pricing is low, so you might be able to get someone to pay for it for you). One thing you'll notice with our training is that we don't assume a lot of math or programming background.
Good luck and enjoy your journey! (MATLAB is a lot of fun.)


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