MATLAB vs. PYTHON from a MATLABer’s Perspective

Since I have just finished the PYTHON version of my book MATLAB Recipes for Earth Sciences (Springer 2021), I would like to offer a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of both programming languages and development environments. Comments, corrections and additions via email are as always welcome!

This is a comparison of MATLAB vs. PYTHON from the perspective of a scientist who has been using MATLAB for ~30 years, but PYTHON for a comparatively short time. However, my book covers a wide range of applications from statistics, time series analysis, spatial and directional data analysis, and image processing and analysis in more than 500 pages, so I think I can make an initial judgment.

In fact, MATLAB and PYTHON have a lot in common, the developers clearly inspire each other. In earlier discussions of the pros and cons, the focus was on the different business model of the two tools: Python is initially free, but you pay for this advantage with a lack of support. If you actually need professional help, it quickly becomes expensive – you are then rely on help from companies that offer this support for the usual prices.

If you don’t have the financial means, you will spend a lot of time googling solutions and usually get help in forums like Stackoverflow. MATLAB users, on the other hand, can rely on professional help from the manufacturer MathWorks, on direct contact with the developers, but may pay high license fees. There is no free lunch, someone always pays the bill.

Here is my draft of my MATLAB vs. PYTHON from a MATLABer’s Perspective, open to discussion, corrections and additions. For those of you who are interested to learn both by means of earth science applications, please refer to the courses I teach since ~30 years.


Trauth, M.H. (2021) MATLAB Recipes for Earth Sciences – Fifth Edition. Springer International Publishing, 517 p., Supplementary Electronic Material, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-3-030-38440-1

Trauth, M.H. (2022) Python Recipes for Earth Sciences – First Edition. Springer International Publishing, ~500 p., Supplementary Electronic Material, Hardcover, ISBN: TBA

Rebbin, J. (2021) Introduction to MATLAB for Python Users. MathWorks Blogs, available online.