Sunday, March 16, 2008

MATLAB 2008a Released

While not on disk yet, MATLAB release 2008a (MATLAB 7.6) is available for download from the MathWorks for licensed users. This release brings news on several fronts:

The Statistics Toolbox has seen a number of interesting additions, including: quasirandom number generators and (sequential) feature selection and cross-validation for modeling functions.

Another change which may be of interest to readers of this log is the upgrade of the Distributed Computing Toolbox, now named the Parallel Computing Toolbox. This Toolbox permits (with slight restructuring of MATLAB code) the distribution of the computational workload over multiple processors or processor cores. With more and more multi-core computers being sold every month, this offers the opportunity to greatly accelerate MATLAB code execution (think in terms of multiples of performance, not mere percentages!) to a very broad audience. Code which can be parallelized will run nearly twice as fast on a dual-core machine, and nearly four times as fast on a quad-core machine.

On a non-technical note, MATLAB has finally moved beyond software keys to on-line authentication for software installation. Is this good or bad? Both, I suppose. I'm sure that the MathWorks experiences its share of software piracy, so this move is understandable. It's also worth mentioning that MATLAB licensing is still very casual, with "one user" licensing still permitting installation on multiple machines (such as work and home), with the understanding that only one licensed person will use the software at a time.

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