During a course review, I have provided my opinion on the course overall. I stated that MATLAB is also a great environment to program and do research for ML/AI, but my professor seemed to have taken my comments as a joke and told me "If you take a look at the statistics, then you'll see that MATLAB is not a feasible environment to innovate and research topics in ML/AI".

As an undergraduate who is new to machine learning, I would hope to understand more and not debate on which is better (MATLAB vs Python), but rather to know whether there is a bias against MATLAB or there are actually reasons that make MATLAB not a good environment to research and program ML topics.

  • $\begingroup$ I think it boils down to the fact that most deep learning research is conducted using the libraries in python (pyrotechnics, tesnorflow, etc.) and so there’s a lot of existing support for it already out and any new methods are likely to be built in these libraries. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Apr 20, 2021 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


(This question is could be considered off-topic or opinion-based, but I will answer it by providing facts that could hinder the adoption of MATLAB by AI researchers).

There are 2 main reasons why MATLAB may not be the "best" programming language/environment for research (in AI and other areas too)

  • It's closed source (i.e. it's more difficult to extend it; the most similar open-source alternative to MATLAB would be Octave)
  • It's owned by a company (i.e., it's proprietary, so, for you to use MATLAB, you need a license, which could be given to you by your university, which is my case, or you need to buy it, but not everyone can afford this).

In my view, these are clear obstacles for people that want to share their research and make sure that people can reproduce their results or build new ideas on top of them. However, in some cases, using proprietary software for research may be the best (or even only) option (see e.g. this for more info). In fact, I have also seen MATLAB being used for research in artificial intelligence (here is an example), but the choice of MATLAB might have been due to the familiarity of the authors with the language/environment.


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