Matlab: A Practical Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving Paperback – Aug 11 2011
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"This book is an excellent way to learn quickly how to use MATLAB…The most significant changes in this edition include a new chapter on vectorized code and manipulating vectors, concepts used in image processing, modified and new end-of-chapter exercises, and the use of MATLAB version R2011a."--Electrical Insulation Magazine, January 2013, Vol. 29, No. 1, page 66 "This book is an excellent way to learn quickly how to use MATLAB…Anyone who wants to learn the basis of MATLAB quickly should own this book."--IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, page 66 "In-depth coverage is given to input/output, a topic that is fundamental to many engineering applications. New to this edition are more engineering applications to help the reader learn MATLAB in the context of solving technical problems, new and revised end-of-chapter problems, stronger coverage of loops and vectorizing in a new chapter and updates to reflect current features and functions of the current release of MATLAB."--Lunar and Planetary Information "Assuming no knowledge of programming, this book presents both programming concepts and MATLAB’s built-n functions, providing a perfect platform for exploiting its extensive capabilities for tackling engineering problems. The book starts with programming concepts such as variables, assignments, input/output, and selection statements, moves onto loops, and then solves problems using both the ‘programming concepts’ and the ‘power of MATLAB’ side by side. In-depth coverage is given to input/output, a topic that is fundamental to many engineering applications. New to this edition are more engineering applications to help the reader learn MATLAB in the context of solving technical problems, new and revised end-of-chapter problems, stronger coverage of loops and vectorizing in a new chapter, and updates to reflect current features and functions of the current release of MATLAB."--Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin, December 2011, Issue 127, page 46 "This is the perfect book for anyone wanted to acquire a secure understanding of MATLAB fundaments and master its language. Many engineers and scientists now use MATLAB and Simulink to solve real-world problems. With the help of this book, they will be able to exploit the full power of MATLAB much sooner than they would using the online manuals, and be able to solve real problems much more quickly."--IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, page 70
About the Author
Stormy Attaway is Assistant Professor and Faculty Coordinator for Special Programs within the Mechanical Engineering Department at Boston University. She also currently serves as Director of Curricular Assessment and Improvement for the College of Engineering. In this capacity, she coordinates the curricular assessment and improvement programs within the College, in order to better the academic experience of the undergraduates. She has been the course coordinator for the Engineering Computation courses at Boston University for over twenty years, and has taught a variety of programming courses using many different languages and software packages.
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There are numerous, out of date, but well written "specialty" Matlab books-- Matlab for scientists, Matlab for Chemists, Matlab for Physicists, Matlab for Engineers, Matlab for Neurologists... etc. These almost all go for between $80 and $200+ US! This book is hands down FAR BETTER as both an intro and a reference. You HAVE to run the examples as the solutions are not always given, but Matlab itself will let you know how you did if you got the code right.
For a very recent book, the code runs quite well, I'd put it at about 95%+. Many books like this, when recently published, are rushed to press and the code is, well, frankly, garbage! The neat thing is that since this is a third edition, the code has been vetted many times and is far more bulletproof than the normal up to date, current version text.
How does it compare to the Matlab documentation? No contest! The official documentation gives volumes (libraries) on functions, etc. but very few good, basic examples of best practices. This author really knows her stuff, and will save you a ton on bugs, even if you just get this as a reference. Granted, the focus of the examples is Engineering, but I also work in medical and robotics EE and DSLs, and the examples are easily transportable to any other area. It is pretty clear that although the author publishes in advanced Engineering, she also teaches undergrads, so the book is kept intelligible without the usual "show off" style that makes many texts tough to learn from. This book is ideal for autodidacts and self study as well as reference due to that pedagogy.
Given the maturity of Matlab libraries now, there are tons of templates for every possible application imaginable, from macros and plug ins to complete APIs! So you really need best programming and problem solving practices, not 800 pages of examples for $200 using your own field's parameters and quantities-- let your plug ins and libraries do that (many of them are free now, especially with the GNU version of Matlab). I guess what I'm saying is, if you're considering spending $100 plus on a specialty Matlab book vs this-- get this instead, then use the web to find your perfect app/ specialty plug in! With this as a foundation, you don't have to get "Matlab for Signal Processing" because the plug ins are much more specific than even that "specialty" book, and give you a choice of analog, digital, time vs. frequency, RF specific, etc., for example.
Even if you go into research with a heavier emphasis on stats, for example, you'll probably prefer a language like R, but this text, and Matlab, will help with special functions and the interface even if you do end up doing most of your work in R. The most recent versions of both R and Matlab share (to put it politically) a lot of features, so you won't go wrong with this text even if you're combining with studying or using R. When you move from research to applications, design and engineering move quickly to Matlab.
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The author put considerable work into this book, and for someone who wants to learn MATLAB on their own, this is a pretty good choice. The examples are simple and easy to follow with the content suitable even for aggressive high school students. Matlab no longer needs any sort of hyping, it is used in many disciplines ranging from engineering to economics to education, although engineers are the true power users.
As an experienced user, I most likely to use this book as a reference when I simply forget one of the many Matlab constructs. As a reference, the material is quite extensive and diverse but still does not get too aggressive in any of the content.
In a nutshell, the book will
1. Get you familiar with the MATLAB command set
2. Get you familiar with the MATLAB user interface
3. Teach you how to import data, manipulate the data based on the baseline MATLAB instruction set, and generate decent but often clunky looking plots (many people that I know will often port the data out to a better plotting package such as excel)
4. Develop a collection of commands (call .m files) that perform an extended sequence of commands and can be run from session to session
The MATLAB program is not included in the book and can be quite costly, so if you don't have a copy of MATLAB, you might want to check out its affordability first. Also, there is no companion disk with the book meaning that you have to do all the typing of the examples in the book. This is more of a luxury than a necessity (in my opinion).
Why only 4 stars?
Quite honestly, the book was a bit too basic for me. The book did not deal with one very important subject which is interfacing with .C programs. This has become commonplace in the workforce and although it doesn't fit nicely with an intro book, some material should have been included on this important subject. In addition, some of the examples were almost too simplistic resulting in cases where nothing really significant is shown. Plotting for the most part was kept to a basic level and as a result, most of the plots in the book look basic. These are points that are worth downgrading the book one star, but not enough to really detract from its overall appeal as an introductory or good reference book. If you're looking for a book that is either a good introduction with no assumed prior knowledge or simply a basic reference, this book is highly recommended.
Here's my review:
This book is exactly what it claims to be: an introduction to MATLAB. All in all, it appears to be a very well written textbook (I already know MATLAB so I can't say I tried learning with this book, but I did browse through it and read some sections in detail and it was a very good reminder and seemed easy to follow and understand).
The book does a fantastic job of describing the different functions and terms it covers. It also is filled with useful smatterings of actual MATLAB syntax and code including at times alternate methods for achieving the same output. Code examples are good and text explaining them are very easy to read and follow. Well written for what is essentially a programming book!
The table of contents is well organized and descriptive, making it easy to skip around the book looking for specific topics. Index is decent...could stand a tad more detail, but acceptable.
The preface makes a good point - the book seeks to explain both the use of functions and the programming concepts. I can't say it's completely unique to approach MATLAB this way, but it is, in my mind, the preferable way to do it. Using functions alone doesn't leave you much flexibility when you are faced with something more complex and need to actually write useful programs or something not directly correlating to a function. But not knowing the functions really cripples your productivity.
The book also touches briefly on some of the more advanced concepts in MATLAB (even 3D plots, animation, sound and image processing). Not enough to really use these super effectively without another reference, but enough to try at least simple versions and to know that it exists as an option, which for an intro book is quite acceptable and nice that it bothers at all.
I do like the practice features in the text - most of them basically have you pen and paper what you think the output of things will be and then go into MATLAB to check your answers. It seems a little trivial to have to be solving math equations by hand until you realize it's a great way to make sure that you both understand the math and the MATLAB. If they don't agree you did one or the other wrong! I liked this idea quite a lot for both students and myself : Good review of both language and math.
As for the problems in the text, reading them, they seem useful. Some are very easy seeeming and some really do require you to think (the later chapters basically make you write a complete program). I didn't try them honestly, but at least they are clear - I don't have too many questions understanding what they want which is very good for a textbook. Without an answer manual, these aren't as useful to me though since I could do the problem, but not really check my work unless I did it by hand as well (which is why I think the set-up/suggestion in the book for how to do the practice problems is so great).
I did knock it down to four stars for a few things though that made it a little less useful as a reference in my mind (and in my mind any good textbook should be judged this way...even if you buy it for class, you want to be able to turn to it years later as a reference).
First - I understand MATLAB has a VERY good help feature that explains almost any function. But that's only really helpful if you know to bother looking for the function in the first place. One of the most useful things any programming book can have for me is a library/list of all the functions with a brief explanation of any variables. Then when I'm programming I can scan the list looking for, say, anything with "matrix" in it if I know I'm going to be using matrixes. Sometimes just seeing the name of a function is really useful to me to let me know that "hey, the language has a function for this!"
This book doesn't have that. A great deal of the functions are described in the text, but there is no list that I've found in it. If you find one, point it out to me in a comment please, but flipping through it, if there is one I totally overlooked it). In some of the sections, additional functions are mentioned beyond those that are explicitly explained, which is good, but the variables and syntax are not explained which is also too bad...although with MATLAB's help I could figure it out if I need to.
Second - In my courses (I have a Master's in Robotic Controls) I had to use a lot of toolboxes and do in work as well. Toolboxes are basically the MATLAB version of additional software add-ons (kind of like libraries in other languages) which give you additional functions you can call. The basic student edition of MATLAB software doesn't come with any toolboxes (at least it didn't used to) and toolboxes are expensive, but I still find it quite unfortunate that I couldn't find any mention of toolboxes in this book. It would be really nice to get a list of the toolboxes available for MATLAB and a brief description of what each covers (a paragraph or two). In my mind an intro book is a great place to put info like this...it tells you were to turn next if you need to head off in some more detailed direction after you grab the basics.
I'll update the review if I discover more...at this point the reading is as described - looking at the index and table of contents, browse of most most of it, and in depth reading of a few sections (notably the preface, "is" functions, scripts, loops, advanced tops, maxix representation, and sound and image processing)
In my opinion, there is a glitch in the printing style of the book as far as code examples provided. They are printed in a very fine-line font style that is a hard to read and tiring on the eyes if you're really studying the material. The font contrast goes way down compared to ordinary text font. The publisher used light blue, olive and grey backgrounds for code examples, I guess to try to help the low-contrast font issue. Too bad. I suspect they tried to use the built-in MATLAB capability to easily export code out of the Command Window etc. directly into an external document. All the other text in the book is perfectly okay. Next printing will be a chance to fix this.
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