# MATLAB For Dummies

**Published: **06-29-2021

**Go from total MATLAB newbie to plotting graphs and solving equations in a flash! **

MATLAB is one of the most powerful and commonly used tools in the STEM field. But did you know it doesn’t take an advanced degree or a ton of computer experience to learn it? *MATLAB For Dummies* is the roadmap you’ve been looking for to simplify and explain this feature-filled tool.

This handy reference walks you through every step of the way as you learn the MATLAB language and environment inside-and-out. Starting with straightforward basics before moving on to more advanced material like Live Functions and Live Scripts, this easy-to-read guide shows you how to make your way around MATLAB with screenshots and newly updated procedures. It includes:

- A comprehensive introduction to installing MATLAB, using its interface, and creating and saving your first file
- Fully updated to include the 2020 and 2021 updates to MATLAB, with all-new screenshots and up-to-date procedures
- Enhanced debugging procedures and use of the Symbolic Math Toolbox
- Brand new instruction on working with Live Scripts and Live Functions, designing classes, creating apps, and building projects
- Intuitive walkthroughs for MATLAB’s advanced features, including importing and exporting data and publishing your work

Perfect for STEM students and new professionals ready to master one of the most powerful tools in the fields of engineering, mathematics, and computing, *MATLAB For Dummies* is the simplest way to go from complete newbie to power user faster than you would have thought possible.

## Articles From MATLAB For Dummies

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Cheat Sheet / Updated 07-12-2021

MATLAB is an incredibly flexible environment that you can use to perform all sorts of math tasks. A large array of engineering and science disciplines can use MATLAB to meet specific needs in their environment. Using such a complex environment can prove daunting at first, but this Cheat Sheet can help: Get to know common MATLAB commands; become familiar with common operators and precedence; and learn to recognize line plot styles.

View Cheat SheetStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2017

You would have a tough time presenting formulas to others without being able to use math symbols. MATLAB provides you with a wealth of symbols that you can use for output purposes. Here are the most commonly used symbols and how you access them.

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

When you first start MATLAB, the current folder always defaults to the MATLAB folder found in your user folder for the platform of your choice. For Windows users, that means the C:Users<User Name>DocumentsMATLAB folder. Burying your data way down deep in the operating system may seem like a good idea to the operating system vendor, but you can change the current folder location to something more convenient when desired. Perhaps your data is actually stored on a network drive, you want to use a shared location so that others can see your data, or you simply want to use a more convenient location on your local drive. The following steps help you change the current folder:

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

After you create a formula or command that you want to use to perform a number of calculations in MATLAB, be sure to save it to disk. Of course, you can save anything that you want to disk. The following steps help you save any formula or command that you want to disk so that you can review it later:

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

MATLAB provides many different ways to write scripts. Some of them don’t actually require that you write anything at all! However, the traditional way to create a script in any application is to write it. The most common first script in the entire world is the “Hello World” example. The following steps demonstrate how to create such a script using MATLAB.

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

You can create a 3D bar chart in MATLAB. The bar chart is a standard form of presentation that is mostly used in a business environment. You can use a bar chart to display either 2D or 3D data. When you feed a bar chart a vector, it produces a 2D bar chart. Providing a bar chart with a matrix produces a 3D chart. The following steps help you create a 3D bar chart.

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Once you have obtained a copy of the Symbolic Math Toolbox to use with MATLAB, you should have a number of files on your hard drive. These files provide everything needed to install the Symbolic Math Toolbox. You have two ways by which you can interact with the files: If you were able to use the download agent, you see a dialog box telling you that the download is complete. At this point, you can perform one of these two tasks: Select the Start Installer option and click Finish to start the installation process. The Symbolic Math Toolbox installer will start automatically. Select the Open Location of the Downloaded Files option and click Finish. You see the location of the files open, and you must double-click the installer file to start the installation process. (The installer file is typically the only executable program in the folder.) If you performed the manual download process, you need to find the download location of the files. You must double-click the installer file to start the installation process. (The installer file is typically the only executable program in the folder.) Windows platform users may see a User Account Control (UAC) dialog box when starting the installer. Click Yes to give the installer permission to install the Symbolic Math Toolbox. Otherwise, the installation will fail. No matter how you start the installer, eventually you see a MathWorks installer dialog box. This dialog box determines the source of the files that you use to perform the installation. (Choosing the Install Using the Internet option downloads the files directly from the MathWorks site — you also have the option of using source files on your hard drive.) The following steps help you complete the installation process.

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

You need to obtain either a trial version or a purchased version of the Symbolic Math Toolbox before you can do anything else with it in MATLAB. (When getting a trial version, you must discuss the download with someone from MATLAB before you can actually download the product.) Check out the product information and click one of the links in the Try or Buy section of the page. After you have received confirmation of your purchase, use the following steps to obtain the software:

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

MATLAB allows you to modify the plot box aspect ratio. Instead of modifying the data, the plot box aspect ratio modifies the plot box — the element that holds the plot in its entirety — as a whole. The appearance of the data still changes, but in a different way than before. The following steps get you started with this example:

View Step by StepStep by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Using a color bar with your MATLAB plot can help people see data values based on color rather than pure numeric value. The color bar itself can assign human-understandable values to the numeric data so that the data means something to those viewing it. The best way to work with color bars is to see them in action. The following steps help you create a color bar by using the colorbar() function and use it to define values in a bar chart:

View Step by Step