Scilab is a free and open source software that can be used for numerical computation. It contains hundreds of functions which are enough for the pupose of teaching in engineering colleges.

When it comes to complex mathematical calculations and plotting the software we are all familiar with is MATLAB. But unlike Scilab MATLAB is licensed and not everyone can afford it. A MATLAB license costs around 57,000 INR due to which most colleges won't be able to afford licenses for all the students. On the other hand Scilab provides the same services free of cost. (Beauty of open source).

Why are such softwares needed?

The prime use comes up in labs. All the readings we take during our electrical/electronic labs can be plotted using Scilab, which can give us an exact observation from our readings. What we do now is plot on graph papers, which is like so stone age. Also the most time consuming task is plotting points when they are in minute intervals (like in log graphs). Such tasks hardly take a few seconds in such softwares.

Numerical computation softwares like Scilab and MATLAB are also used extensively in the industries. A few of the purposes these softwares are used ofr include:

  • Maths & Simulation: For usual engineering and science applications including mathematical operations and data analysis.
  • 2-D and 3-D Visualization: Graphics functions to visualize, annotate and export data and many ways to create and customize various types of plots and charts.
  • Optimization: Algorithms to solve constrained and unconstrained continuous and discrete optimization problems
  • Statistics: Tools to perform data analysis and modeling
  • Control System Design and Analysis: Standard algorithms and tools for control system study
  • Signal Processing: Visualize, analyze and filter signals in time and frequency domains.

Being familiar with such softwares would also increase your chances of getting into your core field rather than ending up in an IT industry.

Getting Started

You can install Scilab using apt-get

sudo apt-get install scilab

I will be following up with a post on how to get started with Scilab and some of its basic utilities. :)

Stay Tuned