matplotlib vs matlab: What is the difference between Matplotlib and Matlab?

Matplotlib and MATLAB are both popular tools for data visualization and scientific computing, but they have some key differences.


Matplotlib is a Python library for creating 2D plots and graphs. It provides a wide range of functionalities to generate high-quality visualizations.

It offers a comprehensive set of plotting tools and supports various plot types, including line plots, scatter plots, bar plots, histograms, etc.

Matplotlib is highly customizable, allowing users to fine-tune every aspect of a plot, such as colors, labels, titles, axes, etc.

It provides a procedural interface similar to MATLAB, making it familiar to users transitioning from MATLAB to Python.

Matplotlib is an open-source library and is widely used in the scientific and data analysis communities. It has a large user base and an active development community, ensuring ongoing improvements and updates.

Here is a brief description of how to use Matplotlib:

Import the required modules: Start by importing the necessary modules from the Matplotlib library. The most commonly used module is matplotlib.pyplot, which is typically imported as plt.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

Prepare the data: Define the data that you want to visualize. Matplotlib works well with NumPy arrays, but you can also use Python lists or pandas DataFrames.

Create a figure and axes: In Matplotlib, a figure is the entire window or page that houses all the visual elements, while axes are the individual plots or charts within the figure. Use the plt.subplots() function to create a figure and axes.

fig, ax = plt.subplots()


  • MATLAB is a proprietary programming language and development environment specifically designed for numerical computation and visualization.
  • It has a rich set of built-in functions and toolboxes for various scientific and engineering applications, including data analysis, signal processing, control systems, and more.
  • MATLAB provides an integrated development environment (IDE) that includes a command-line interface and a graphical user interface (GUI) for interactive development and debugging.
  • MATLAB’s plotting capabilities are extensive and highly optimized, with built-in functions for creating different types of plots and visualizations.
  • MATLAB is a commercial product, and users need to purchase a license to use it. However, many universities and research institutions have site licenses, making it widely available in academic settings.

In summary, Matplotlib is a powerful open-source library for data visualization in Python, while MATLAB is a proprietary environment specifically designed for numerical computation and visualization. The choice between them often depends on factors such as programming language preference, cost considerations, specific requirements of the task at hand, and the availability of tools and support within the respective ecosystems.

Here are some basic steps to help you get started with using MATLAB:

Install MATLAB: First, download and install MATLAB on your computer. You can obtain MATLAB from the MathWorks website, and they provide installation instructions specific to your operating system.

Launch MATLAB: Once installed, launch MATLAB by double-clicking on the MATLAB icon or running it from the Start menu. The MATLAB command window, which is the primary interface, will open.

MATLAB Command Window: The MATLAB command window allows you to execute commands and view the results. You can perform calculations, call built-in functions, and interact with the MATLAB environment using the command window.

MATLAB Workspace: The MATLAB workspace is where variables and their values are stored during a MATLAB session. You can view and manage variables in the workspace window. To create a variable, assign a value to it using the assignment operator (=). For example, x = 5 creates a variable named ‘x’ with a value of 5.

MATLAB Editor: The MATLAB Editor is an integrated development environment (IDE) where you can write and edit MATLAB scripts and functions. To open the MATLAB Editor, click on the “New Script” button in the Home tab or type edit in the command window.