MATLAB is a high performance software package for numerical computation and visualization. The name MATLAB stands for Matrix Laboratory. The basic MATLAB operating structure is a matrix, and the program is designed especially to help compute problems with matrix and vector formulations. The program lets users manipulate numerical data and create graphical representations of the information. MATLAB also offers a complete programming environment that is serves as a powerful tool for numerical applications.

Additionally, there are several MATLAB toolboxes available for use. MATLAB toolboxes are sets of MATLAB programs designed to solve a specific set or type of problem.

What you will need to run MATLAB on UNIX:

  • A UNIX workstation with a windowing environment, such as CDE, or X-Windows. For more information on X-Windows, see the X-Windows Server documentation page.
  • An active USC computer account on one of the ITS time-sharing hosts (e.g. SCF, BCF, HSC) or any host whose accounts are managed by ITS (e.g. pollux, chem1). More information on USC computer accounts can be found on the Computer Accounts page.

You will also need to source the MATLAB setup files in order for the software to work properly. You may source the setup files by typing a command at the UNIX prompt before you need to use MATLAB, or if you wish to have the MATLAB setup sourced each time you login, you may add a command to your .login file.

To source the setup files at a UNIX prompt use the command:

source /usr/usc/matlab/default/setup.csh

To source the setup files at login, add the following lines to your .login file:

if ( -e /usr/usc/matlab/default/setup.csh) then

source /usr/usc/matlab/default/setup.csh


Starting MATLAB

Once you have logged into a windowing environment and have sourced the MATLAB setup files, you may start up MATLAB by typing matlab at the UNIX prompt. Once MATLAB has started up, you will see the MATLAB desktop. The desktop consists of 3 windows: Workspace, Command History, and Command Window. The Command Window is where you will see a prompt that looks like >>, and is where you will type in various commands.

Basic MATLAB Commands

At the MATLAB prompt, you can run some basic UNIX commands such as cd and ls. For more information on UNIX commands, see the UNIX Documentation page.

To get general MATLAB help, type help at the prompt to get a list of a help topics. To get help on a specific topic or function, type help at the prompt, replacing with the topic or function you wish to get help on.

To exit MATLAB, type exit or quit at the prompt.

Getting Help With MATLAB

MathWorks provides extensive MATLAB documentation online. To access this documentation, go to MATLAB Getting Started.

If you have questions regarding this documentation, or are having trouble logging into your account and sourcing the MATLAB setup files, please contact the ITS Customer Support Center.