|GNU Octave Improves Matlab Compatibility|
|Written by Kay Ewbank|
|Monday, 07 December 2020|
GNU Octave 6.1 has been released with improvements including changes to the graphics backend, compatibility with Matlab and a number of new and improved functions.
GNU Octave is popular as a free open source alternative to MATLAB. It provides capabilities for the numerical solution of linear and nonlinear problems, and has extensive graphics capabilities for data visualization and manipulation.
The improvements to the new version start with improved Matlab compatibility. It's now easier to switch to and from Matlab because of changes including adding the ability to handle nested functions to the interpreter, and altering other functions to return column index vectors.
The graphics back end of Octave has also been improved. There's a new font smoothing property that use anti-aliasing for text and axis objects; and better handling of text subscripts and superscripts.
In practical terms, several functions have been reworked or completely rewritten. There's a new rand function that uses a different algorithm. For single precision outputs, the algorithm has been fixed so that it produces values strictly in the range (0, 1). Previously, it could occasionally generate the right endpoint value of 1. The new implementation also uses a uniform interval between floating point values in the range (0, 1) rather than targeting a uniform density.
The quadv function has also been rewritten so it will perform better. It can now compute integrands of periodic functions, and performance is better with ~3.5X fewer function evaluations required.
Another function to be improved is linspace, which is described as now producing symmetrical sequences when the endpoints are symmetric.
Octave's format command for output has also received work. It now supports the options of uppercase and lowercase, and can be called with multiple options for controlling the format, spacing, and case in arbitrary order.
Support for accessing complex RESTful web services has been added. These can now be accessed by two new functions, webread and webwrite, alongside with the weboptions structure. Support for cookies has also been added to enable RESTful communication with the web service, and the system web browser can be opened by the web function.
Octave can be downloaded from the GNU Website.
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