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CHAPTER

About MATLAB

Objectives

After reading this chapter,

you should be able to

understand what MATLAB

is and why it is widely

used in engineering and

science

understand the advantages and limitations of

the student edition of

MATLAB

formulate problems by

using a structured

problem-solving approach

MATLAB is one of a number of commercially available, sophisticated mathematical computation tools, such as Maple, Mathematica, and MathCad. Despite what their proponents may claim, no single one of these tools is the best.

They all have strengths and weaknesses. Each will allow you to perform basic

mathematical computations, but they differ in the way they handle symbolic

calculations and more complicated mathematical processes such as matrix manipulation. For example, MATLAB excels at computations involving matrices,

whereas Maple excels at symbolic calculations. MATLABs very name is

short for Matrix Laboratory. At a fundamental level, you can think of these

programs as sophisticated computer-based calculators. They can perform the

same functions as your scientific calculatorand many more. If you have a

computer on your desk, you may find that youll use MATLAB instead of your

calculator for even the simplest of your mathematical applicationsfor example, balancing your checkbook. In many engineering classes, performing computations with a mathematical computation program like MATLAB is replacing

more traditional computer programming. This doesnt mean that you shouldnt

learn a high-level language such as C++ or FORTRAN, but programs such as

MATLAB have become a standard tool for engineers and scientists.

Because MATLAB is so easy to use, many programming tasks can be performed with it. However, MATLAB isnt always the best tool to use for a programming task.The program excels at numerical calculationsespecially matrix

calculationsand graphics, but you wouldnt want to write a word-processing

program in MATLAB. C++ and FORTRAN are general-purpose programs

and would be the programs of choice for large applications such as operating

systems or design software. (In fact, MATLAB, which is a large application

program, was originally written in FORTRAN and later rewritten in C, a precursor of C++.) Usually, high-level programs do not offer easy access to graphing, but that is an application at which MATLAB excels. The primary area of

overlap between MATLAB and high-level programs is number crunching:

programs that require repetitive calculations or the processing of large quantities

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

optimized for matrix

calculations

of data. Both MATLAB and high-level programs are good at processing numbers. It

is generally easier to write a number-crunching program in MATLAB, but the

program will usually execute faster in C++ or FORTRAN. The one exception to this

rule is calculations involving matrices: Because MATLAB is optimized for matrices,

if a problem can be formulated with a matrix solution, MATLAB executes substantially faster than a similar program in a high-level language.

MATLAB is available in both a professional and a student version. The professional version is probably installed in your college or university computer laboratory, but you may enjoy having the student version at home. MATLAB is updated

regularly; this text is based on MATLAB 7. If you are using MATLAB 6, you may

notice some minor differences between it and MATLAB 7. There are substantial

differences in versions that predate MATLAB 5.5.

Key idea: MATLAB is

regularly updated

The professional and student editions of MATLAB are very similar. Beginning students probably wont be able to tell the difference. Student editions are available for

Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux operating systems and can be purchased

from college bookstores or online from The MathWorks at www.mathworks.com.

The MathWorks packages its software in groups called releases, and MATLAB 7

is featured, along with other products, such as Simulink 6.1, in Release 14. The release number is the same for both the student and professional edition. Release 14

of the student edition includes the following features:

Full MATLAB 7

Simulink 6.1, with the ability to build models with up to 1000 blocks (the professional version allows an unlimited number of blocks)

Major portions of the Symbolic Math Toolbox

Software manuals for both MATLAB 7 and Simulink

A CD containing the full electronic documentation

A single-user license, limited to students for use in their classwork (the professional version is licensed either singly or to a group)

Toolboxes other than the Symbolic Math Toolbox may be purchased separately.

The biggest difference you should notice between the professional and student

editions is the command prompt, which is

>>

EDU>>

The ability to use tools such as MATLAB is quickly becoming a requirement for

many engineering positions. A recent job search on Monster.com found the following advertisement:

is looking for a System Test Engineer with Avionics experience.

Responsibilities include modification of MATLAB scripts, execution of

Simulink simulations, and analysis of the results data. Candidate MUST

be very familiar with MATLAB, Simulink, and C++ .

This ad isnt unusual. The same search turned up 75 different companies

that specifically required MATLAB skills for entry-level engineers. MATLAB is

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

used in all engineering and science fields. The sections that follow outline just a

few of the many applications currently using MATLAB.

widely used in engineering

MATLAB is widely used in Electrical Engineering for signal processing applications.

For example, Figure 1.1 includes several images created during a research program at

the University of Utah to simulate collision-detection algorithms used by the housefly

(and adapted to silicon sensors in the laboratory). The research resulted in the design

and manufacture of a computer chip that detects imminent collisions. This has potential application in the design of autonomous robots using vision for navigation and in

particular for automobile safety applications.

1.3.2 Biomedical Engineering

Medical images are usually saved as dicom files (the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine standard). Dicom files use the file extension .dcm. The MathWorks offers an additional toolbox called the imaging toolbox that can read these

files, making their data available to MATLAB for processing. The imaging toolbox

also includes a wide range of functions of which many are especially appropriate for

medical imaging. A limited MRI data set that has already been converted to a format compatible with MATLAB ships with the standard MATLAB program. This

data set allows you to try out some of the imaging functions available both with the

standard MATLAB installation and with the expanded imaging toolbox if you

have it installed on your computer. Figure 1.2 shows six images of horizontal slices

through the brain based on the MRI data set.

Figure 1.1

Image processing using

a fisheye lens camera to

simulate the visual system of

a houseflys brain. (Used

by permission of Dr. Reid

Harrison, University of

Utah.)

Figure 1.2

Horizontal slices through

the brain, based on the

sample data file included

with MATLAB.

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

Figure 1.3

Three-dimensional

visualization of MRI data.

The same data set can be used to construct a three-dimensional image, such as

either of the ones shown in Figure 1.3. Detailed instructions on how to create these

images are included in the help tutorial.

1.3.3 Fluid Dynamics

Calculations describing fluid velocities (speeds and directions) are important in a number of different fields. Aerospace engineers in particular are interested in the behavior

of gases, both outside an aircraft or space vehicle and inside the combustion chambers.

Visualizing the three-dimensional behavior of fluids is tricky, but MATLAB offers a

number of different tools that make it easier. In Figure 1.4, the flow field calculation results for a thrust vector control device are represented as a quiver plot. Thrust vector

control is the process of changing the direction in which a nozzle points (and hence the

direction a rocket travels) by pushing on an actuator (a pistoncylinder device). The

Flow Velocities from a Plenum into a Curved Pipe

y-axis

1.5

0.5

Figure 1.4

Quiver plot of gas behavior

in a thrust vector control

device.

0.5

1.5

x-axis

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

model in the figure represents a high-pressure reservoir of gas (a plenum) that eventually feeds into the piston and thus controls the length of the actuator.

A consistent approach to solving technical problems is important throughout

engineering, science, and computer programming disciplines. The approach we outline here is useful in courses as diverse as chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, and

engineering design. It also applies to the social sciences, such as economics and sociology. Different authors may formulate their problem-solving schemes slightly differently, but they all have the same basic format:

systematic problem solving

strategy

m Drawing a picture is often helpful in this step.

m If you do not have a clear understanding of the problem, it is unlikely that you

will be able to solve it.

Describe the input values (knowns) and the required outputs (unknowns).

m Be careful to include units as you describe the input and output values. Sloppy

handling of units often leads to wrong answers.

m Identify constants you may need in the calculation, such as the ideal-gas constant and the acceleration due to gravity.

m If appropriate, label a sketch with the values you have identified, or group them

into a table.

Develop an algorithm to solve the problem. In computer applications, this can

often be accomplished with a hand example. Youll need to

m Identify any equations relating the knowns and unknowns.

m Work through a simplified version of the problem by hand or with a calculator.

Solve the problem. In this book, this step involves creating a MATLAB solution.

Test the Solution.

m Do your results make sense physically?

m Do they match your sample calculations?

m Is your answer really what was asked for?

m Graphs are often useful ways to check your calculations for reasonableness.

If you consistently use a structured problem-solving approach, such as the one

just outlined, youll find that story problems become much easier to solve.

Example 1.1 illustrates this problem-solving strategy.

EXAMPLE 1.1

The Conversion of Matter to Energy

Albert Einstein (see Figure 1.5) is arguably the most famous physicist of the 20th

century. Einstein was born in Germany in 1879 and attended school in both Germany

and Switzerland. While working as a patent clerk in Bern, he developed his famous

theory of relativity. Perhaps the most well known physics equation today is his:

E = mc2

This astonishingly simple equation links the previously separate worlds of matter

and energy and can be used to find the amount of energy released as matter is destroyed in both natural and human-made nuclear reactions.

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

Figure 1.5

Albert Einstein (Courtesy

of the Library of Congress,

LC-USZ62-60242).

The sun radiates 385 * 1024 J/s of energy, all of which is generated by nuclear reactions converting matter to energy. Use MATLAB and Einsteins equation to determine how much matter must be converted to energy to produce this much radiation

in one day.

1. State the Problem

Find the amount of matter necessary to produce the amount of energy radiated by the sun every day.

2. Describe the Input and Output

Input

E = 385 * 1024 J/s, which must be converted into the

total energy radiated during one day

Speed of light c = 3.0 * 108 m/s

Energy

Output

Mass m in kg

3. Develop a Hand Example

The energy radiated in one day is

385 * 1024

J

s

hours

* 3600

* 24

* 1 day = 3.33 * 1031 J

s

hour

day

The equation E = mc2 must be solved for m and the values for E and c substituted. We have

m = E/c2

3.33 * 1031 J

m =

13.0 * 108 m/s22

J

= 3.7 * 1014 2 2

m /s

2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved. This publication is protected by Copyright and written permission should be

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

We can see from the output criteria that we want the mass in kg, so what went

wrong? We need to do one more unit conversion:

1 J = 1 kg m2/s2

= 3.7 * 1014

kg m2/s2

m2/s2

= 3.7 * 1014 kg

Clearly, at this point in your study of MATLAB, you have not learned how to

create MATLAB code. However, you should be able to see from the following

sample code that MATLAB syntax is similar to the syntax used in most algebraic scientific calculators. MATLAB commands are entered at the prompt

(>>), and the results are reported on the next line. The code is as follows:

>> E=385e24

E =

3.8500e+026

>> E=E*3600*24

E =

3.3264e+031

>> c=3e8

c =

300000000

>> m=E/c^2

m =

3.6960e+014

From this point on, we will not show the prompt when describing interactions

in the command window.

5. Test the Solution

The MATLAB solution matches the hand calculation, but do the numbers make

sense? Anything times 1014 is a really large number. Consider, however, that the

mass of the sun is 2 * 1030 kg. We could calculate how long it will take to consume the mass of the sun completely at a rate of 3.7 * 1014 kg/day. We have

time = 1mass of the sun2/1rate of consumption2

time =

2 * 1030 kg

14

3.7 * 10 kg/day

year

= 1.5 * 1013 years

365 days

Thats 15 trillion years! We dont need to worry about the sun running out of

matter to convert to energy in our lifetimes.

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding permission(s), write to: Rights and Permissions Department,

Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

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