My Head Hurts

R vs Matlab vs Python (My Answer)

So some time back I started an ongoing post trying to compare R, Matlab and Python. Well my answer is simple, there is no answer. And if you think differently you should ask yourself, “am I just being a fan-boy”?

If you want to read my previous post it is here, if not here is a quick summary of all 3…


  • Proprietary meaning you will have to pay
  • Powerful
  • GUI’s for stuff. You can to build a ANN there’s a GUI, fancy a blast with Fuzzy Logic, guess what, there’s a GUI.
  • Lots of toolboxes (but you pay for)
  • Has Simulink, cool for rapid experimenting. Plug in a webcam and you can be object tracking in minuts (maybe 100 minutes, but still minutes)
  • I hate how the windows go behind other windows (sorry, had to be said)
  • Plenty of webinars

R / RStudio

  • Not Proprietary, everything is free
  • Rapidly became HUGE, like its everywhere. Want a job in machine learning or to be taken seriously in statistics? Then you need R on your CV..! (Facebook, Microsoft, Google all want R)
  • No GUIs, now that is painful. It just makes everything that little bit harder to see what is going on.
  • Lots of toolboxes (but called packages) and they are all FREE
  • Too many toolboxes, yep also a curse. You always find a couple of toolboxes doing the same thing, which is best?
  • RStudio, makes it so much more user friendly than the standard R environment. Don’t even try R without RStudio, seriously just don’t..!
  • Why am I still using <- when I know = works?

Python (more SciKit Learn really)

  • Rapid development
  • Open source
  • Multiple environments (Spyder and Notebook are my favourite)
  • Grown in strength
  • I have to question, will it replace R? I don’t know, some people love it, others like R. We’ll have to see
  • Syntax like you’ve never seen before, seriously my tab key has worn down..!
  • Maybe getting over complex. You’ll need get to grips with Pandas and NumPy. I found handling data formats a bit of a pain.
  • Matlibplot outputs look a little naff, maybe I needed to play with it more
  • Some good Deep Learning stuff out there (thinking of Theano)
  • Finally, Anaconda, you need this distribution of Python.

So that’s it, all 3 are good. It depends on what you want to use it for. My fan-boy opinion is currently R, looks good on the CV, has loads of packages and the graphs look nice. Also, sooo much support for everything you want to do.

2 thoughts on “R vs Matlab vs Python (My Answer)

  1. For picking Matlab vs. Python vs. R, I think there are three primary things to consider:

    1. Does it do what you want it to do? Generally, the answer is “yes” for all three, but not always. Each has specific use-cases it is much better for, although these tend to be fairly niche. If you are in one of those niches, use what works. For example, Matlab has simulink, but its multiprocessing toolbox can be prohibitively expensive.

    2. What do the people you are working with use? Programming isn’t done in a vacuum. Having existing code and experience to work off of is invaluable. So if most people you are working with, especially those who know what they are doing, are using one of the three, use that.

    3. What do people in your field use? Just because most people use it doesn’t mean it is better, there is a lot of inertia and people like to stick with what they are familiar with, but this also means what you do is more likely to be acceptable if you don’t go too far outside their experience.

Leave a Reply