I've recently been learning Matlab, and I thought it might be fun to record some of my impressions of it as I go. First, a little background. I've been programming for many years, and know a variety of programming languages, including FORTRAN, C, C++, Perl, Python, and a few assembly languages. My preferred languages are Python and C++, depending on whether an application can be interpreted or must be compiled.
"GNU Octave is a high-level language, primarily intended for numerical computations. It provides a convenient command line interface for 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."
Although Matlab™ has become widely used for DSP system design and simulation, Matlab has two problems: 1) it's expensive, and 2) it costs a lot. Fortunately, there are alternatives: Free Clones. Whatever else you can say about them, these Free Clones offer two significant advantages: 1) you don't have to pay for them, and 2) they're free.
The major Matlab clones are Scilab, Octave, Rlab and SciPy. None are true "clones", because none offer 100% compatibility with Matlab's "m-files".