One of the most common data analysis tools is MatLab. But MatLab is a commercial product and is quite pricey so several free MatLab-like tools have been created. Two of the most popular of these semi-clones are SciLab and GNU Octave.

I hadn’t looked at SciLab or Octave in quite a few months so I thought I’d see what’s new in Octave. (I’ll revisit SciLab some other time).

Octave version 4.0 was released in June 2015. The current version as of the day I’m writing this blog post is 4.0.3 which was released in July 2016.

My last use of Octave was with a version 3. I found a big change in version 4, namely, that Octave now comes with a GUI shell by default, as opposed to v3 which was command-line only.

I installed Octave on a machine running Windows 10. The installer gave me a warning that Octave 4 has not been thoroughly tested on Windows 10 but I installed anyway. Installation went smoothly.

I tried one of the standard Hello World examples for Octave, creating a 3D plot of the so-called peaks function.

Before version 4 of Octave, I preferred SciLab, but with Octave’s nice new GUI, my preference has shifted to Octave, mostly because Octave has closer compatibility to MatLab than SciLab does.

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