MATLAB: Overview

From Robotics
Jump to: navigation, search
← Previous: Matlab.png Web interface  |  MATLAB overview  |  Back to article: --- Next: Vector algebra

MATLAB is an interactive environment for numerical computation, visualization and programming. As you can see in the figure on the right, MATLAB provides a graphical user interface, where all the input and output and the current workspace, so the used data, is presented. MATLAB can be used for almost all types of mathematical computation. For detailed information, you can have a look on the MATLAB homepage:


A very useful add-on for MATLAB in the field of robotics is the Robotics Toolbox developed by Peter Corke. It is based on Peter Corkes Book "Robotics, Vision & Control", in which you can get a detailed description of the toolbox. The toolbox can be used for computations and simulations of kinematics, dynamics, trajectory generation and further robotics aspects. A manual describing all the functionalities of the toolbox is available under:


To use the toolbox locally on your computer the installation of MATLAB and a corresponding license is required. To run the toolbox please follow the instructions under But instead of using the original toolbox version, please use the version provided on the Robotics material page ( This is a modified version with an improved visualization. The installation process and the functionality are the same as of the original version.

If you do not have MATLAB running on your computer, you can either use the freely available alternative software Octave or the Web Interface based on Octave provided here in the Wiki. Octave is available under You can find instructions how to install the toolbox in Octave in the toolbox folder under /robot/Octave/readme.txt.

Hint: At the moment not all of the functionality of the toolbox available in MATLAB can be used with Octave. So another version of the toolbox providing the whole functionality for Octave and the web interface is currently under development.

The following articles give explanations how to use MATLAB and the Robotics toolbox for certain topics. If you are not familiar with MATLAB you preferably use the explanations in chronological order.

1 MATLAB Overview

2 Vector algebra

2.1 Unit vectors

2.2 Simple arithmetic operations

2.3 Dot product

2.4 Cross product

3 Matrices