R vs Matlab: Which one is more powerful and Why?

Are you a statistics students and looking for the best answer on the comparison between R vs Matlab? If yes, then this blog is for you. Here we are going to share with you the in-depth comparison between R vs Matlab. Before we are getting started with a comprehensive comparison between these two languages. We have to start from the basics, let’s start with the description of R as well as Matlab. Here we go:-

R Definition

R is one of the most popular open-source programming languages. It is widely used for statistical computing and graphics. R includes various libraries to implement a wide variety of statistical and graphical techniques.

These techniques include machine learning algorithms, clustering, time-series analysis, and many more. The best part of R is it allows you to do a lot more than any other programming language. Likewise, you can extend R with the help of user-generated packages.

In other words, you can easily create and embed your packages in R with ease. And another best part is you can create the packages in R and also in some other programming languages such as C, C++ and Java.

You can either use the command line tools in R, or you can also use the graphical IDE’s like R studio and Visual Studio. R is an incredible language all because of its freedom. You can access the R functionalities through various scripting languages such as Perl, Php, Ruby, Python and many more. 

Matlab Definition

Matlab stands for the matrix laboratory. It was developed by MathWorks company. It is a multi-paradigm numerical computing environment as well as the exclusive programming language. Matlab is dedicated to mathematical and technical computing. Therefore it is widely used by engineers and scientists.

As the name defines that Matlab allows us to perform various functionalities like matrix manipulation. Apart from that, we can also plot the function and data in Matlab. Besides, we can also implement the algorithm, create the user interface and interacting with programming that is written in other programming languages such as Java, C++, Python, and many more.

Like no other language, Matlab is quite different than other programming languages. You get the application-specific solution in Matlab. In other words, you get the toolbox in Matlab to perform various functions. The toolbox of Matlab is quite useful to learn and apply specialized technology.

The Matlab toolbox is containing some files known as M-file. These files are used to solve a specific set of problems. These kinds of issues include the signal system, neural networks, control systems and many more. It is widely used for linear algebra, data analytics, image processing.  

Matlab and R both languages are widely used in the market. Both of these languages have their unique features. Let’s discuss the actual difference between R vs Matlab:-

Comparison Between R vs Matlab

Classes and Objects

Both R and Matlab are object-oriented programming languages. But the only difference between Matlab vs R is the class. In Matlab class is defined as a folder or directory of functions. These functions are used to work with the object of the class. On the other hand, R offer packages for defining the class.


Matlab doesn’t allow you to run the same licensed version on the different operating system. Because Matlab comes with the restriction of one software installation on one PC only.

You can’t install the same licensed version on different PC. Because Matlab uses the machine address to identify the installation. You can run Matlab on different operating systems. But it has to be installed on the same PC.

On the other hand, R can run on any operating system because it is an open-source programming language. R does not have any licensed version. You can also run the CRAN tests to ensure that the R packages will work on your OS or not. 


Matlab is used for various mathematics aspects such as calculus, plotting graphs and many more. On the other hand, R is used to solve the statistics problems. For this R offers the various prepackaged programs. These programs help to solve analytical problems. R is more potent than Matlab to solve analytical problems. 

Learning Curve

Matlab is easy to use programming language. It is quite easy to learn because of its toolboxes. The Matlab toolbox performs various functionalities in Matlab. On the other hand, R is quite tricky for the newbies in programming languages.

The reason is R uses the programming syntax. In other words, if you want to perform some function in R, then you have to use the syntax of R. But the best part of R is, it is an open-source programming language. Thus you can find the massive amount of code online to perform some repetitive tasks or functions. 

Preferred Language

The experts preferred Matlab for many universities for engineering and math students. On the other hand, R is the preferred language to perform the data analysis by most of the industries. 

Add-on Products

Matlab is a licensed product; thus, it offers lots of add-on products. These add-ons are used to perform various tasks in Matlab. On the other hand, R doesn’t have any add-ons to perform some functions. Besides, R does have a lot of packages. These packages are used to perform various tasks in the program. 


If we talk about the cost of both of these programming languages, then R is leading that comparison. Because R is an open-source product. Therefore you need to pay anything to use R programming languages. It is completely free for everyone.

On the other hand, MATLAB is a licensed product; therefore, you need to pay some amount to use this language. Apart from that Matlab licence also varies as per the type of Matlab software. It is distributed by the Mathworks under some license. 


Matlab is faster to perform most of the task, likewise the technical computing tasks, statistics and machine learning. On the other hand, if the R developer is proficient enough, then they can achieve the same results in R faster than Matlab. 

Support and Documentation

R is an open-source programming language. Thus, you may not get the official support and documentation of the R language. But the best part is R has a large community of developers for support and documentation.

On the other hand, you will get the proper documentation of Matlab from MathsWorks. You can access the Matlab documentation anytime, and it includes hundreds of examples that will help you to learn.

If we talk about the support, the Matlab has over 200 dedicated technical support experts worldwide. Those experts are always ready to troubleshoot problems. Apart from that, you will also have a vibrant community of Matlab.

Machine Learning

Both R and Matlab are quite efficient in machine learning. For machine learning, R has extensive library sets. On the other hand, Matlab has statistics and machine learning toolbox.

These toolboxes are quite helpful to explore data, select features, validation schemes and many more. Now it depends up to you that what you want to achieve using machine learning.

If you’re going to image processing, then you should choose Matlab. On the other hand, if you’re going to perform the statistical methods for complex algorithms, then you should choose R.  


If we talk about the data visualization in R and Matlab. Then there is no competition between these two. Because both of them are equally powerful for data visualization and display outputs. 

For data visualization, R offers four different graphics implementations. These implementations are the Base graphics, Grid graphics, Lattice graphics, and Ggplot2. When we do data visualization in R, then the Base graphics set as the default graphics system. Apart from that, the Basic graphics is the easiest among the four systems to learn and use.

On the other hand, Matlab offers the 2D and 3D plotting functions to provide the graphical user interface. You can also use the customized plot in Matlab with the help of some programming. Apart from that, Matlab offers the Simulink package for the graphical programming environment. And that environment is used for modelling, simulating and analyzing multi-domain. 


Now we have gone through the in-depth comparison between R vs Matlab. For education, Matlab has a little advantage over R., But if we compare them based on job analysis, then R has a slight edge over Matlab.

R is an open-source programming language. Thus you can showcase your expertise by providing the code to help other R developers. R is also quite helpful for those who are looking to get into the world of data science. 

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