GNU Octave
GNU Octave 4.3.0+ running on Linux
Developer(s)John W. Eaton and many others[1]
Initial release1988; 33 years ago (1988)
Stable release
6.2.0[2] / 20 February 2021; 4 months ago (20 February 2021)
Preview release
6.0.90a / 28 August 2020; 10 months ago (2020-08-28)[3]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC, C++, Fortran[4]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux, BSD
Available in19 languages[citation needed]
TypeScientific computing
LicenseGNU GPLv3
Websitegnu.org/software/octave/

GNU Octave is software featuring a high-level programming language, primarily intended for numerical computations. Octave helps in solving linear and nonlinear problems numerically, and for performing other numerical experiments using a language that is mostly compatible with MATLAB. It may also be used as a batch-oriented language. Since it is part of the GNU Project, it is free software under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Other free alternatives to MATLAB include Scilab and FreeMat.[5][6][7][8] Octave is more compatible with MATLAB than Scilab is,[5][9][10] and FreeMat has not been updated since June 2013.[11]

History

The project was conceived around 1988.[12] At first it was intended to be a companion to a chemical reactor design course. Real development was started by John W. Eaton in 1992. The first alpha release dates back to 4 January 1993 and on 17 February 1994 version 1.0 was released. Version 4.0.0 was released on 29 May 2015.

The program is named after Octave Levenspiel, a former professor of the principal author. Levenspiel was known for his ability to perform quick back-of-the-envelope calculations.[13]

Development history

Time Action
1988/1989 1st discussions (Book and Software)
February 1992 Begin of Development
January 1993 News in Web (Version 0.60)
February 1994 1st Publication (Version 1.0.0 to 1.1.1)[14]
December 1996 2nd Publication (Version 2.0.x) with Windows Port (Cygwin)[15]
March 1998 Version 2.1
November 2004 Version 2.9 (DEV Version of 3.0)[16]
December 2007 Publication of Version 3.0 (Milestone)[17]
June 2009 Publication of Version 3.2 (Milestone)[18]
8 February 2011 Version 3.4.0 (Milestone)[19]
22 February 2012 Publication of Octave 3.6.1 (Milestone)[20][21]
31 December 2013 Publication of Octave 3.8.0 (experimental GUI)[22][23][24]
29 May 2015 Version 4.0.0 (stable GUI and new Syntax for OOP)[25][26][27][28]
14 November 2016 Version 4.2.0 (gnuplot 4.4+)[29][30][31][32]
30 April 2018 Version 4.4.0 (new Goal for GUI QT Toolkit, the FLTK toolkit is not deprecated and there is no schedule for its removal - while no longer prioritized)[33][34][35]
1 March 2019 Publication of Octave 5.1.0 (QT5 preferred, Qt 4.8 minimum), hiDpi support[36]
31 January 2020 Publication of Octave 5.2.0 (QT5 preferred)[37]
26 November 2020 Publication of Octave 6.1.0 (QT5 preferred, Qt 4.x deprecated for remove in 7)[38]
20 February 2021 Publication of Octave 6.2.0 (QT5 preferred), Bugfix, improved matlab syntax support[39]

Developments

In addition to use on desktops for personal scientific computing, Octave is used in academia and industry. For example, Octave was used on a massive parallel computer at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to find vulnerabilities related to guessing social security numbers.[40]

Acceleration with OpenCL or CUDA is also possible with use of GPUs.[41]

Technical details

Octave, the language

The Octave language is an interpreted programming language. It is a structured programming language (similar to C) and supports many common C standard library functions, and also certain UNIX system calls and functions.[42] However, it does not support passing arguments by reference.[43]

Octave programs consist of a list of function calls or a script. The syntax is matrix-based and provides various functions for matrix operations. It supports various data structures and allows object-oriented programming.[44]

Its syntax is very similar to MATLAB, and careful programming of a script will allow it to run on both Octave and MATLAB.[45]

Because Octave is made available under the GNU General Public License, it may be freely changed, copied and used.[13] The program runs on Microsoft Windows and most Unix and Unix-like operating systems, including Linux and macOS.[46][47]

Notable features

Command and variable name completion

Typing a TAB character on the command line causes Octave to attempt to complete variable, function, and file names (similar to Bash's tab completion). Octave uses the text before the cursor as the initial portion of the name to complete.[48]

Command history

When running interactively, Octave saves the commands typed in an internal buffer so that they can be recalled and edited.

Data structures

Octave includes a limited amount of support for organizing data in structures. In this example, we see a structure "x" with elements "a", "b", and "c", (an integer, an array, and a string, respectively):

octave:1> x.a = 1; x.b = [1, 2; 3, 4]; x.c = "string";
octave:2> x.a
ans =  1
octave:3> x.b
ans =

   1   2
   3   4

octave:4> x.c
ans = string
octave:5> x
x =
{
  a =  1
  b =

     1   2
     3   4

  c = string
}

Short-circuit boolean operators

Octave's '&&' and '||' logical operators are evaluated in a short-circuit fashion (like the corresponding operators in the C language), in contrast to the element-by-element operators '&' and '|'.

Increment and decrement operators

Main article: Increment and decrement operators

Octave includes the C-like increment and decrement operators '++' and '--' in both their prefix and postfix forms. Octave also does augmented assignment, e.g. 'x += 5'.

Unwind-protect

Octave supports a limited form of exception handling modelled after the 'unwind_protect' of Lisp. The general form of an unwind_protect block looks like this:

unwind_protect
   body
unwind_protect_cleanup
   cleanup
end_unwind_protect

As a general rule, GNU Octave recognizes as termination of a given 'block' either the keyword 'end' (which is compatible with the MATLAB language) or a more specific keyword 'end_block'. As a consequence, an 'unwind_protect' block can be terminated either with the keyword 'end_unwind_protect' as in the example, or with the more portable keyword 'end'.

The cleanup part of the block is always executed. In case an exception is raised by the body part, cleanup is executed immediately before propagating the exception outside the block 'unwind_protect'.

GNU Octave also supports another form of exception handling (compatible with the MATLAB language):

try
   body
catch
   exception_handling
end

This latter form differs from an 'unwind_protect' block in two ways. First, exception_handling is only executed when an exception is raised by body. Second, after the execution of exception_handling the exception is not propagated outside the block (unless a 'rethrow( lasterror )' statement is explicitly inserted within the exception_handling code).

Variable-length argument lists

Octave has a mechanism for handling functions that take an unspecified number of arguments without explicit upper limit. To specify a list of zero or more arguments, use the special argument varargin as the last (or only) argument in the list.

function s = plus (varargin)
   if (nargin==0)
      s = 0;
   else
      s = varargin{1} + plus (varargin{2:nargin});
   end
end

Variable-length return lists

A function can be set up to return any number of values by using the special return value varargout. For example:

function varargout = multiassign (data)
   for k=1:nargout
      varargout{k} = data(:,k);
   end
end

C++ integration

It is also possible to execute Octave code directly in a C++ program. For example, here is a code snippet for calling rand([10,1]):

#include <octave/oct.h>
...
ColumnVector NumRands(2);
NumRands(0) = 10;
NumRands(1) = 1;
octave_value_list f_arg, f_ret;
f_arg(0) = octave_value(NumRands);
f_ret = feval("rand", f_arg, 1);
Matrix unis(f_ret(0).matrix_value());

C and C++ code can be integrated into GNU Octave by creating oct files, or using the MATLAB compatible MEX files.

MATLAB compatibility

Octave has been built with MATLAB compatibility in mind, and shares many features with MATLAB:

  1. Matrices as fundamental data type.
  2. Built-in support for complex numbers.
  3. Powerful built-in math functions and extensive function libraries.
  4. Extensibility in the form of user-defined functions.

Octave treats incompatibility with MATLAB as a bug; therefore, it could be considered a software clone, which does not infringe software copyright as per Lotus v. Borland court case.

MATLAB scripts from the MathWorks' FileExchange repository in principle are compatible with Octave. However, while they are often provided and uploaded by users under an Octave compatible and proper open source BSD license, the fileexchange's Terms of use prohibit any usage beside MathWorks' proprietary MATLAB.[49][50][51]

Syntax compatibility

There are a few purposeful, albeit minor, syntax additions:

  1. Comment lines can be prefixed with the # character as well as the % character;
  2. Various C-based operators ++, --, +=, *=, /= are supported;
  3. Elements can be referenced without creating a new variable by cascaded indexing, e.g. [1:10](3);
  4. Strings can be defined with the double-quote " character as well as the single-quote ' character;
  5. When the variable type is single (a single-precision floating-point number), Octave calculates the "mean" in the single-domain (MATLAB in double-domain) which is faster but gives less accurate results;
  6. Blocks can also be terminated with more specific Control structure keywords, i.e., endif, endfor, endwhile, etc.;
  7. Functions can be defined within scripts and at the Octave prompt;
  8. Presence of a do-until loop (similar to do-while in C).

Function compatibility

Many, but not all, of the numerous MATLAB functions are available in GNU Octave, some of them accessible through packages in Octave Forge. The functions available as part of either core Octave or Forge packages are listed online.

A list of unavailable functions is included in the Octave function __unimplemented.m__. Unimplemented functions are also listed under many Octave Forge packages in the Octave Wiki.

When an unimplemented function is called the following error message is shown:

  octave:1> guide
  warning: the 'guide' function is not yet implemented in Octave

  Please read <http://www.octave.org/missing.html> to learn how you can contribute missing functionality.
  error: 'guide' undefined near line 1 column 1

User interfaces

Octave comes with an official graphical user interface (GUI) and an integrated development environment (IDE) based on Qt. It has been available since Octave 3.8,[52] and has become the default interface (over the command line interface) with the release of Octave 4.0.[53] It was well-received by EDN contributor, who said "[Octave] now has a very workable GUI."[54]

Several 3rd-party graphical front-ends have also been developed, like ToolboX for coding education.

GUI applications

With Octave code, the user can create GUI applications [1]. Below are some examples:

Button, edit control, checkbox

# create figure and panel on it
f = figure;
# create a button (default style)
b1 = uicontrol (f, "string", "A Button", "position",[10 10 150 40]);
# create an edit control
e1 = uicontrol (f, "style", "edit", "string", "editable text", "position",[10 60 300 40]);
# create a checkbox
c1 = uicontrol (f, "style", "checkbox", "string", "a checkbox", "position",[10 120 150 40]);

Textbox

prompt = {"Width", "Height", "Depth"};
defaults = {"1.10", "2.20", "3.30"};
rowscols = [1,10; 2,20; 3,30];
dims = inputdlg (prompt, "Enter Box Dimensions", rowscols, defaults);

Listbox with message boxes.

my_options = {"An item", "another", "yet another"};
[sel, ok] = listdlg ("ListString", my_options, "SelectionMode", "Multiple");
if (ok == 1)
  msgbox ("You selected:");
  for i = 1:numel (sel)
    msgbox (sprintf ("\t%s", my_options{sel(i)}));
  endfor
else
  msgbox ("You cancelled.");
endif

Radiobuttons

# create figure and panel on it
f = figure;
# create a button group
gp = uibuttongroup (f, "Position", [ 0 0.5 1 1])
# create a buttons in the group
b1 = uicontrol (gp, "style", "radiobutton", "string", "Choice 1", "Position", [ 10 150 100 50 ]);
b2 = uicontrol (gp, "style", "radiobutton", "string", "Choice 2", "Position", [ 10 50 100 30 ]);
# create a button not in the group
b3 = uicontrol (f, "style", "radiobutton","string", "Not in the group","Position", [ 10 50 100 50 ]);

Packages

Octave also has packages available for free. Those packages are located at Octave-Forge [2]. Available packages are:

See also

References

  1. ^ Rik (10 June 2015). "contributors.in". Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  2. ^ "GNU Octave 6.2.0 Released". 20 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Index of /gnu/octave". alpha.gnu.org. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  4. ^ "Building - Octave". wiki.octave.org. GNU. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Trappenberg, Thomas (2010). Fundamentals of Computational Neuroscience. Oxford University Press. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-19-956841-3.
  6. ^ Muhammad, A; Zalizniak, V (2011). Practical Scientific Computing. Woodhead Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-85709-226-7.
  7. ^ Megrey, Bernard A.; Moksness, Erlend (2008). Computers in Fisheries Research. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 345. ISBN 978-1-4020-8636-6.
  8. ^ Kapuno, Raul Raymond (2008). Programming for Chemical Engineers Using C, C++, and MATLAB. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-934015-09-4.
  9. ^ Herman, Russell L. (2013). A Course in Mathematical Methods for Physicists. CRC Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4665-8467-9.
  10. ^ Wouwer, Alain Vande; Saucez, Philippe; Vilas, Carlos (2014). Simulation of ODE/PDE Models with MATLAB, Octave and Scilab: Scientific and Engineering Applications. Springer. pp. 114–115. ISBN 978-3-319-06790-2.
  11. ^ "FreeMat". freemat.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  12. ^ "About GNU Octave". www.gnu.org. GNU. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b Eaton, John W. "About Octave". Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  14. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-1.html
  15. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-2.html
  16. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/2012/12/31/news-archive.html
  17. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-3.html
  18. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-3.2.html
  19. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-3.4.html
  20. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-3.6.html
  21. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2013/02/21/octave-3.6.4-released.html
  22. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-3.8.html
  23. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2013/12/31/octave-3.8.0-released.html
  24. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2014/03/04/octave-3.8.1-released.html
  25. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-4.0.html
  26. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2015/05/29/octave-4.0.0-released.html
  27. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2016/03/23/octave-4.0.1-released.html
  28. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2016/07/02/octave-4.0.3-released.html
  29. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/2016/11/14/octave-4.2.0-released.html | text=Release Notes Version 4.2.0))
  30. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-4.2.html
  31. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2017/02/24/octave-4.2.1-released.html
  32. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2018/03/13/octave-4.2.2-released.html
  33. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-4.4.html
  34. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2018/04/30/octave-4.4.0-released.html
  35. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2018/08/09/octave-4.4.1-released.html
  36. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/NEWS-5.1.html
  37. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2020/01/31/octave-5.2.0-released.html
  38. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2020/11/26/octave-6.1.0-released.html
  39. ^ https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/news/release/2021/02/20/octave-6.2.0-released.html
  40. ^ "Social Security Number Vulnerability Findings Relied on Supercomputing". 8 July 2009. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
  41. ^ https://devblogs.nvidia.com/parallelforall/drop-in-acceleration-gnu-octave/
  42. ^ "GNU Octave - Controlling subprocesses". 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  43. ^ "GNU Octave". Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  44. ^ "Summary of important user-visible changes for version 3.2". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  45. ^ "FAQ: MATLAB compatibility". Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  46. ^ "FAQ: Getting Octave". Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  47. ^ https://octave.org/doc/interpreter/
  48. ^ Eaton, John W. "Letting Readline Type For You". GNU Octave Reference Manual.
  49. ^ Why can't I use code from File Exchange in Octave? It's released under a BSD license! on octave.org
  50. ^ terms of use on mathworks.com "Content that you submit must not directly compete with products offered by MathWorks. Content submitted to File Exchange may only be used with MathWorks products."
  51. ^ File Exchange Licensing Transition FAQ on mathworks.com
  52. ^ "Summary of important user-visible changes for version 3.8".
  53. ^ "Summary of important user-visible changes for version 4.0".
  54. ^ GNU Octave hits a high note – Steve Hageman, 7 February 2014
  55. ^ https://savannah.gnu.org/search/?words=fuzzy-logic-toolkit&type_of_search=bugs&Search=Search&exact=1#options

Further reading