Serious maths for silly prices

If you work with numbers, statistics, maths, simulation, robotics, control, or any of a whole load of other areas, you will know well the giant software packages which are available: Mathematica, perhaps the most famous, MATLAB with Simulink, and Maple.

They are hugely capable, can work with almost any type of data or symbolic maths, and prodigiously expensive – unless you qualify for a student version. At one time, when in work, I had all three available to me, plus National Instruments’ LabVIEW. I could spend all day working with models, data, and simulations so long as real work didn’t get in the way.

Mathematica (desktop) currently starts at £2035, with a large range of additional modules which can be added to that.

MATLAB starts at £1600, to which you need to add the cost of Simulink and the many other attractive modules which you will want.

Maple 2015 Professional costs £1705, and rises to £4150 when its simulation and modelling features are added as MapleSim.

Except that:

  • MathWorks now offers a full-power Personal Licence for MATLAB which costs, in the UK, just £85+VAT, with each additional module such as Simulink another £25+VAT on top;
  • Wolfram offers a limited-use (restricted number of API calls per month) Home licence for £195+VAT, or £95+VAT per year;
  • I cannot find an equivalent personal/home/non-professional/hobbyist licence for Maple, but perhaps that is coming shortly?

Yes, and I cracked: I went for MATLAB with a whole slew of add-ons. It is many years since I last had the pleasure, and I suspect my tech-crazy grandson will love exploring some of its simulation modules with me. What a truly wonderful offer – thank you MathWorks and Wolfram for making an old man happier.