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Posted by Feigelson, Eric at March 24. 2015

MATLAB (MATrix LABoratory) is an advanced programming language for applied mathematics, data analysis , signal processing, and graphics. It is a commercial package with over a million users in engineering, natural and social science.  See here and here for an introduction. 

R is the leading software environment for advanced statistical analysis of data in the statistics, engineering and many science communities.   It is a public domain (GPL) package with over two million users.  See here and here for an introduction.  

David Hiebeler (Univ Maine) gives a very useful reference guide`translator' between MATLAB and R, showing that many functionalities can easily be reproduced in both languages.  Another shorter translator is here, here, and in a recent book.  

There has been online debate over the relative merits between MATLAB and R.  See here, here, here, here and here.   The most obvious difference is cost!  On functionality, for example,  MATLAB may be better at image & signal processing while R has a wider range of statistical methodology. Both languages have strong graphical capabilities, and allow incorporation of code from C & Fortran with faster computation.  R/CRAN packages R.matlab and matlab interface or reproduce MATLAB scripts into R; and a COM-based interface calls R functions from MATLAB.  See also the discussion here.  

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