Some chinese colleges and universities are banned from MATLAB ,Turning to open source software to regain attention

The ban on MATLAB in Chinese universities such as HAU and Beihang has been rapidly fermented on chinese social media and has sparked widespread discussion in academia and technology. Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 33 new Chinese companies and institutions will be added to the “entity list”, including the Qihoo 360, YunCong Technology, Fenghuo Technology and other enterprises, including the Chinese Ministry of Public Security Institute of Forensic Science and other government-related institutions, as well as Harbin University of Technology and Harbin University of Engineering two universities.

Some colleges and universities are banned from MATLAB instead of open source software to regain attention

So far, a total of 13 universities in the Chinese mainland have been included in the list of entities, in addition to the above two, there are: RenMing University, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Northwestern University of Technology, Sichuan University, University of Electronic Science and Technology, Hunan University, National Defense University of Science and Technology, Tongji University, Nanchang University, Guangdong University of Technology.

These colleges will be subject to export, import, or re-export restrictions under the U.S. Export Administration, will not be able to conduct any commercial transactions with the U.S., and will face new restrictions on access to U.S. technology. Like Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, which were listed last year, they require Us government approval for import and export operations, known as “technical sanctions”. Under pressure from the government, MathWorks, a company owned by MATLAB, was forced to suspend genuine licensing of these domestic universities.

Although the organization that can put on this list is not simple, at least to prove that its scientific research strength has been the attention of the United States. But when these basic softwares we use are limited, the negative effects are still visible to the naked eye.

Known as Matrix Laby, mattlab is an advanced technology computing language and interactive environment integration software made up of MATLAB and Simulnk, widely used in algorithm development, data visualization, data analysis, simulation modeling, and numerical computing, and has a near-monopoly market position in industrial manufacturing, academic research, and more. College students majoring in science and engineering have basically come into contact with the software. Some analysts pointed out that if the entire school is banned from using genuine MATLAB, which means that school personnel to publish papers or engage in commercial projects, the results should not in principle include any MATLAB-based content, which will be the impact on domestic enterprises and researchers can not be ignored.

And with MATLAB being banned in domestic colleges and universities, some open source software like MATLAB is gaining attention.

Some colleges and universities are banned from MATLAB instead of open source software to regain attention

Alternative to MATLAB’s open source software


SCILAB is an open source software similar to MATLAB that enables all the basic functions of MATLAB, such as scientific computing, matrix processing, and graphical display.

Because THE SYNTAX OF SCILAB IS VERY CLOSE TO MATLAB, THOSE FAMILIAR WITH MATLAB PROGRAMMING WILL SOON LEARN ABOUT THE USE OF SCILAB. Interestingly, the language conversion function provided by SCILAB automatically translates programs written in MATLAB languages into SCILAB languages. Today, SCILAB works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS full PC platforms.

As an open source software, SCILAB follows the GPL 2.0 open source protocol, and source code, user manuals, and binary executables can be downloaded directly and for free through the official website. Not only can users use the software freely under SCILAB’s license, but they can also modify the source code to their own needs.


Octave is a mathematical software package similar to MATLAB and Scilab that can be performed on a variety of operations and programming. It also has a rich interface that allows users to program when called. Its companion drawing tools use gnuplot. Octave is also used based on character terminal mode, and when a drawing is required, gnuplot is called for data drawing and displayed.

Octave is written in C? and its rich library can also be called by users when writing software. Octave also supports calls such as Fortran, GSL bindings, etc. Users can customize their own functions, subroutines, etc.


Spyder is a lightweight Python IDE that provides advanced code editing, interactive testing, debugging, and more for data analysis. Spyder’s interface is very similar to MATLAB, and the authors admit to mimicking THE MATLAB design in the early years. Spyder is sufficient to replace the simulation modeling requirements for MATLAB if it is not required.

Colleges and universities should embrace open source

The MATLAB incident has also caused people to reflect, will domestic colleges and universities set off a wave of further embrace of open source?

RMS, the father of the free software movement, has called for schools to use free software only because they have a social mission: to educate students to become strong, capable, independent, cooperative and free social citizens. “Schools should promote the use of free software, just as schools promote dialogue and voting. Educating students to use free software is to nurture citizens who can live in a free digital society. This will help society as a whole avoid being dominated by supergroups. In turn, teaching non-free software is fostering dependency, which runs counter to the social mission of schools. Schools should never do that. ”

Some colleges and universities are banned from MATLAB instead of open source software to regain attention

Now, it seems, RMS’s concerns are far from alarmist. Many of us have been exposed to proprietary software such as Windows Systems, MATLAB, CAD, etc. since our student days, and are very dependent on these foreign software, even though it may be free for students. But at the end of the day, why would developers of proprietary software provide free copies of non-free software to schools? The RMS has said it “is because they are trying to use schools to foster dependence on their products, just as tobacco companies give free cigarettes to students.” Once students graduate, they will no longer get free copies, nor will their employers. Once you have dependencies, you’ll pay for it, and upgrading will be expensive. ”

“Free software allows students to learn how software works. Some students with gifts for programming, in their teens, are eager to learn everything about computers and software. They have a strong curiosity and want to read the source code of the software they use. Exclusive software rejects their thirst for knowledge: it says, ‘This knowledge is secret – learning is forbidden!’ ‘Exclusive software is an enemy of the educational spirit, so schools should not tolerate proprietary software unless it is the object of reverse engineering. ”

While RMS’s words contain personal hostility to proprietary software vendors, it is a better option for domestic universities to embrace open source as more and more proprietary software becomes a political shackle.