10 Amazing MATLAB Add-Ons

By Jim Sizemore, John Paul Mueller

MATLAB is so popular that you can get literally hundreds of add-ons for it. You can find the add-on you want in most cases; sometimes it just takes a little looking. For example, if you have the student version of the product, you can see a list of applicable add-ons at MATLAB Student. You can also find some free add-ons available for MATLAB at DownV. Third-party vendors, such as Quandl, also make MATLAB add-ons available — and make sure to avail yourself of add-on listings on third-party sites like the one at The Scientific Web.

MATLAB add-ons to explore

Expand your MATLAB experience with these terrific add-ons:

  • Aerospace Blockset: If you work with something that flies, you definitely need this add-on. It helps you perform tasks with aircraft of every shape and size, including those that go into space. (Of course, you’ll likely want the Aerospace Toolbox, , to go along with this add-on.)

  • Computer Vision System Toolbox: Computer vision simulation is a huge industry because every robot out there needs to know how to see things in order to avoid them. The toolbox even helps you with stereo vision, a requirement to consider distance as part of the tracking systems that robots of all sorts require.

    This particular toolkit could also see use in many other types of industries, such as medical and security. Imagine having a home-security system that tells you not only that a threat out there but also precisely how far it is from your home.

  • Database Toolbox: Business runs on data. The application isn’t actually the important part of a computer system; the data that the application manages is the essential part. Being able to access data from any corporate database is an important part of making MATLAB truly indispensable in a business setting.

  • Econometrics Toolbox: Anyone who works with economic data can use this toolbox to perform various sorts of forecasting using established models. The point is to try to make the best predictions possible so that your business can remain on top. After all, the economy helps determine where money should be invested in order to maximize profits. Unfortunately, the fortune teller’s hat isn’t included with the toolbox.

  • Mapping Toolbox: Knowing where you are is the task of a Global Positioning System (GPS); discovering what to do now that you know where you are is the purview of this toolbox.

    Choosing where to build your next outlet store or determining where the next earthquake will hit both require good geographical analysis software of the type provided by this toolbox.

  • MATLAB Report Generator: The world may not run on physical paper anymore (even though a lot is still generated), but it does live on reports. It seems as if a report exists for every need, and at least a few do for no particular need at all.

    Without a good report generator, your information may not be noticed by others in an age of information overflow. Using this add-on lets you create truly useful and interesting reports.

  • Neural Network Toolbox: Neural networks get a lot of emphases today because they’re seen as the next stage in computer evolution. In fact, a considerable amount of work is occurring on specialized processors targeting the task (read about these processors at my blog). This toolbox provides some of the specialized software needed to work with and train neural networks.

  • Parallel Computing Toolbox: Most computer systems today come with multiple processors. In order to unleash the full potenttial of this computing power, an application needs to know how to break a task into smaller pieces and manage those pieces efficiently across the multiple processors.

    This toolbox helps you model parallel computing so that you can determine the best ways to speed up an application. It also provides support for working in the cloud, which is a major concern of developers today.

  • SimBiology: MathWorks provides a wealth of simulation toolboxes — this is just one of the more popular ones. Checking the results of every model using real-world testing is usually impractical, so simulators are an important part of ensuring that a model will work before you devote time and resources to it. In this particular case, you model biological systems. You can use the model to build, simulate, analyze, and deploy models.

  • Trading Toolbox: You use this toolbox to access trade and quote pricing data. The point is to create financial trading strategies. The event-based data modeling built into MATLAB lets you react to conditions in real time, rather than after the fact.

MATLAB as an add-on

MATLAB can also act as an add-on for other software. For example, if you have Microsoft Excel, you can find instructions for using MATLAB as an add-on at MathWorks. The instructions include information on how to use MATLAB with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the programming language included with Excel.

Developers can access MATLAB as well. Discover how to use MATLAB as a Visual Studio add-in. The information is a little dated but will likely work with newer versions of Visual Studio. Another version of the same information appears here. In both cases, the target language is C/C++.

Any environment that supports Windows automation clients could possibly use MATLAB as an add-on as well. Of course, you need to know what an automation client is, how these clients are created in your application, and how MATLAB uses automation work, but using MATLAB as an automation client is a possibility (one that could improve your productively substantially).