Thursday, 11 August 2011

matlabotomisation

matlabotomisation
- vb
To write or modify a matlab or octave script in order to achieve maximum efficiency in processing time. Thus rendering the algorithm virtually indecipherable to both mathematicians and software engineers alike.

Yes, i'm back to reading matlab scripts again - an unfortunately common task when dealing with research from computer scientists.

matlab (the language) is a really basic scripting language, with a library of routines that make processing mathematical algorithms possible, but not exactly easy. It isn't something that mirrors the mathematical language very concisely, nor maps easily to procedural languages. If that were it's only shortcoming it would be bad enough, but it is also really very slow.

So to get performance out of matlab one has to write code using (multi-dimensional) array types. Writing a loop which generates results one at a time is far too slow, so instead you generate a table of indices and then write a formulae that uses these indices to generate all results at once. This can be fairly concise, and it sort of sounds like functional programming or representing mathematics cleanly, but unfortunately it falls well short of this goal and often the code is off generating complex sets of indices which can be confused with it actually doing work. So you end up with something that might run reasonably quick (for matlab anyway), but is a real brain-ache trying to understand. It neither matches the mathematics, nor the processing steps the cpu takes to form the result.

I prefer when the scientist just gives up and writes simple matlab - for one, it makes my life a lot easier, and as a bonus even a trivial Java conversion will run at least an order of magnitude faster. So it makes me look smarter too!

1 comment:

A.A.A said...

:). On Matlab, I had the joy of convertıng a rater long matlab code to Java. Even result was fast execution, experience was terrible.