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MATLAB (short for "Matrix Laboratory") was originally created in the 1970s by Cleve Moler at the University of New Mexico.

MATLAB is a so-called "4th generation programming language", that is, a programming language designed with a *specific* purpose in mind. This is in contrast to 3rd generation programming languages (FORTRAN/C/C++) which are general purpose in nature.

Although MATLAB itself provides a great deal of basic matrix manipulation, plotting, and general purpose scientific programming capability, a large part of its functionality is actually available through specialized "toolboxes" such as the Optimization toolbox, the Statistics toolbox, the Signal Processing toolbox, the Bioinformatics Toolbox, the Image Processing Toolbox, etc.

Nate Woody
Cornell Center for Advanced Computing
March 2011

Revised and updated by Brandon Barker
September 2014