Develop a list of criteria to compare COTS products.


There are competitors to MATLAB, although MATLAB is dominant in the industry. This lab gives you an opportunity to explore those competitors. There are a number of templates and methods to choose among competing software products. For this lab, you will compare MATLAB to a competitor; run the same program in MATLAB and on the competitor’s software, noting any differences, and documenting your results.


  • Pick one of your labs (i.e. M-file(s)) that you already developed this semester. I would suggest picking one that had graphical output, e.g. plots.
  • Develop a list of criteria to compare COTS products. Examples include but are not limited to:
  1. Cost (i.e. free or not, and provide cost data if available)
    1. click here for more information on this paper
  2. Functionality (does the competing product possess MATLAB capabilities you have learned about in CS122, e.g. command window, e.g. GUI tools for modeling, etc.)
  3. Performance (does the competitor product run at least as fast as MATLAB)
  4. Compatibility (does it run on your Mac, Window PC, Linux, etc.)
  5. Support: (is there an easy-to-access support infrastructure, e.g. MATLAB has its Mathworks web site with excellent examples of help and tutorials)
  6. Size of customer base and/or user community (because there is ‘safety in numbers’)
  7. Maturity of the product. (how long has this product been available).

Add additional comparison criteria as you examine the product.

  • Choose one amongst the following competitors of MATLAB:
  1. Octave

Note: There is also a web interface version of Octave that can be found at

  1. Freemat

  1. Mathematica

Note: Mathematica MAY be available in the Engineering building computers

  1. NumPy (scientific computing from Python)

Warning #1: don’t BUY anything. Use one of the open source (free) software packages for this analysis. If you want to try Mathematica, I believe you can download a free “trial copy” for this analysis. If you find another product besides those listed above, I would love to know about it.

Warning #2: the lab computers may not permit you to download and install any new software, due to restrictions imposed by the CEFNS IT team on the use of the lab computers. If that is the case, you will need to use your personal laptop or PC to complete this lab. If you don’t have a laptop or PC, see if you can borrow or use a classmate’s or friend’s computer to complete this assignment.

  • Prepare a comparison table of MATLAB vs. competitor, with text responses to the above comparison criteria.
  • Install the chosen competitor product.
  • Run your chosen lab both using MATLAB as well as the chosen competitor product. This is a technology “bake off”, where you test the same software in two different places to see if you get the same result(s). [Reference:]
  • Note any differences between the products.
  • Provide screen shots of the alternative product results.


  • Your project report (see below)
  • The code from you original .m files, and the code from the competitor implementation. Also include any relevant output file
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 Project Report

Below is the point distribution for required sections in the lab report. Be sure that each section is labeled clearly. Refer to the lab submission guidelines for details on what goes in each sections.


Section Points Notes
1.Task Description 1
2.Learning Objectives 1
3.Approach 1
4.Source Code 3 Include the source code from MATLAB and the competitor product.
5.Code Execution Results 1 Include any relevant output from MATLAB and the competitor product.
6.Question Responses 7 Your table that compares MATLAB and the competitor product should go in this section.
7.Conclusions 1
15 total
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