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RE: st: Mata versus Matlab

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: Mata versus Matlab
Date   Mon, 7 Jul 2008 18:30:39 +0100

This seems a very fair summary from what I know. I'd add that Stata and
MATLAB have a major similarity as proprietary software but with many
user-written extras available freely and publicly. 

I'd be interested to know more details of how "it is sometimes easier to
trick MATLAB than Stata into producing unsupported graph types". That
would be a challenge either for Stata graphics programmers to show how
such types can be supported or as agenda items for StataCorp. I
specifically exclude 3-D graphics where -- to my great regret -- it is
clear that MATLAB is currently superior to Stata. 


Michael Manti


I've used both Stata and MATLAB reasonably extensively. Stata is my  
main tool for statistical work. I've used MATLAB to do statistical  
work, but I've used it mostly for financial simulations. I much prefer  
Stata over MATLAB for statistical work.

For my purposes, the biggest disadvantage of MATLAB over Stata/Mata is  
cost. If you want to use MATLAB as your main tool for statistical  
work, you need to pay up for the Statistics and Optimization (and  
perhaps other) toolkits. All MATLAB toolkits are sold separately,  
whereas Stata bundles many procedures, and many more are downloadable.  
Even then, my guess is that you're much more likely to find a given  
statistical procedure implemented in Stata (or R) than you are in  

Stata is much better than MATLAB for managing data, logging research,  
and producing tables. For statistical graphics, I generally prefer  
Stata's defaults over MATLAB's--tick marks that poke into the plot  
area, ugh!--but it is sometimes easier to trick MATLAB than Stata into  
producing unsupported graph types.

I suspect that more numerical routines are available in MATLAB than in  
Mata. MATLAB the language also supports some nice programming  
abstractions--higher-order functions, lexical scoping, arrays of  
higher dimension than 2, etc.--that Mata lacks. Mata's pointers only  
partially make up for these omissions. However, I really appreciate  
Mata's optional type declarations, which have saved me from boneheaded  
errors on occasion.

Rajesh Tharyan 

> Does anyone have any extensive experience of using both of these? If  
> so what
> are the advantages of Mata over Matlab or vice versa? Or is there a  
> good
> reference on comparison of capabilities?

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