Can Julia Replace MATLAB?
With time, Julia will be able to replace MATLAB in some areas such as Data Science, Machine Learning, and others, but MATLAB remains popular and widely used in signal processing, control theory, image processing, differential equations, video processing, simulations, etc.
Julia was designed by Jeff Bezanson, Stefan Karpinski, Viral B. Shah, and Alan Edelman in 2012, it is a high-level language that is very fast.
It has since grown in popularity and usage to become the 5th most loved programming language, behind Rust, Closure, Typescript, and Elixir.
According to a Stack overflow survey of 2021, Julia is loved by 70.69% of professional developers versus 29.31% of professional developers who dreaded it.
Its popularity and usage in Data visualization & plotting, Data Science, Machine Learning, Parallel & Heterogeneous Computing, continue to grow rapidly.
On the other hand, MATLAB’s popularity is slowly decreasing, the same Stack Overflow survey reported that MATLAB is dreaded by 78.39% of professional developers versus 21.61% of professional developers who loved it. Only VBA and COBOL are more dreaded than MATLAB.
Despite this, MATLAB is still popular and widely used in Engineering, Science, and Economics. Many universities and colleges use MATLAB as part of the curriculum for programs in Engineering, Math, Science, and Economics.
MATLAB can be used to call functions, libraries, and subroutines written in other programming languages such as C, Perl, Fortran, Java, C# (.NET), etc.
MATLAB is used by a lot of companies such as Zendesk, AMD, Volvo cars, Boeing, Broadcom, Anki, General Electric, and many others.
Julia is catching up and slowly replacing MATLAB in some places, for example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has used Julia to make models of the United States economy (including estimating COVID-19 shocks in 2021), noting that the language made model estimation “about 10 times faster” than its previous MATLAB implementation.
This shows that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has replaced some of its MATLAB implementations with Julia. Other big corporations using Julia include Aviva, NASA, Brazilian INPE, Moderna, BlackRock, Climate Modelling Alliance, Google, Microsoft, and many others.
There are some areas of MATLAB that Julia will be able to replace, but there are also some features of MATLAB that make it superior to Julia. In some cases, Julia and MATLAB will work side by side to provide the best of both worlds.
WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES JULIA HAVE OVER MATLAB?
Julia is a very fast and high-performance language compared to MATLAB. Julia is one of the few high-level programming languages in which petaFLOPS computations have been achieved, others being C, C++, and Fortran.
Julia is easy to work with, its syntax is concise and straightforward, Julia has foreign function interfaces that make it work well with other programming languages such as Python, R, C, C++, Java, and many others. Python and R packages such as PyJulia and JuliaCall can be used to call Julia packages.
Julia is an open-source programming language while MATLAB is a proprietary (close-source) programming language developed by MathWorks.
This means that using Julia is cost-effective and you can also contribute to making Julia better.
Julia is also useful for low-level systems programming, web development, and High-level Synthesis (HLS) tool for hardware like FPGAs. Some of these features cannot be achieved using MATLAB.
Although Julia provides a lot of advantages over MATLAB, there are many features that make MATLAB superior to Julia. If you are in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering field, you will find MATLAB more useful than Julia.
Julia will replace MATLAB in some areas of numerical analysis and computational science but MATLAB is still popular and widely used, it will take a very long time for Julia to replace MATLAB. Plus, MATLAB has other uses in Engineering that Julia cannot simply match.