MATLAB Window Environment and the Base Program


  • Introduction to MATLAB family of programs

  • Brief introduction to MATLAB base program in an interactive "hands on" tutorial style

MATLAB, an abbreviation of MATrix LABoratory, is a high-level technical computing environment suitable for solving scientific and engineering problems. The MATLAB family of programs includes the base program plus a variety of application-specific solutions called toolboxes . Toolboxes are comprehensive collections of MATLAB functions that extend the MATLAB environment to solve particular classes of problems. In this module, the environment provided by the base program is explored.

The MATLAB base program along with the functions from the Control System Toolbox, can be used to analyze and design control systems problems such as those covered in this course. Control System Toolbox includes interactive analysis and design tools called LTI Viewer, and SISO Design Tool. The LTI Viewer uses a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to generate and view time and frequency response plots of Linear Time-Invariant (LTI) transfer functions and obtain measurements from these plots. The SISO Design Tool uses a GUI to provide a convenient and interactive way to design Single-Input-Single-Output (SISO) control systems by the conventional trial-and-error approach. We start using functions of Control System Toolbox in module 2, and enhance its usage in later modules. Whenever MATLAB is referred to in this course, you can interpret that to mean the base program plus the Control System Toolbox. This, in fact, constitutes the beginning of the study of MATLAB for control engineering. There is so much more that must be explored for additional functionality and convenience in designing control systems and analyzing a system's behaviour.

Symbolic Math Toolbox adds symbolic mathematics capability to the MATLAB environment. Functions and equations can be entered symbolically. Symbolic expressions can be manipulated algebraically and simplified. Transfer functions can be entered almost as written. Laplace transforms as well as their inverses can be entered and found in symbolic form. An introduction to Symbolic Math Toolbox and its capabilities will be provided in Module 2.

MATLAB's Simulink software is used to simulate systems. It uses a GUI to interact with blocks that represent subsystems. We can position the blocks, resize the blocks, label the blocks, specify block parameters, and interconnect blocks to form complete systems from which simulations can be run. Simulink will be introduced in Module 3. We will enhance usage of Simulink in later modules to study the effects of nonlinearities, and uncertainties in model parameters on the performance of closed-loop systems.

By its nature, the presentation on MATLAB and its Toolboxes in this course cannot cover all the background and details necessary for a complete understanding of MATLAB. The limited objective of the presentation here is to give enough information to enable the reader to apply MATLAB to the analysis and design problems covered in this book. For further details, the readers are referred to extensive documentation, in both printed and online format, provided by the MathWorks Inc.:

  1. MATLAB, Version 7.0, Natick , MA : The MathWorks Inc. ,

  2. Control System Toolbox, Version 6.1, Natick , MA :The MathWorks Inc.

  3. Symbolic Math Toolbox, Version 3.1, Natick , MA :The MathWorks Inc.

  4. Simulink, Version 6.1, Natick , MA : The MathWorks, Inc.

In the following, we present a brief introduction to MATLAB in an interactive "hands-on" tutorial style which can therefore be used as a self-learning exercise.

The following represents a beginner's route into the MATLAB package.