Mathematicians and Computer Scientists alike find themselves in need of a powerful programming language and toolbox that is easy to use and understand, and yet powerful enough that can answer the needs of today computational challenges. Matlab is that software: very powerful set of programs, tools, gadgets, plug-ins, etc along with a flexible and powerful programming language that can be used to write a complex algorithm in just a few lines of code. Moler, the Chairman and Chief Scientist at MathWorks, the company that created Matlab, tailors his book as a set of discrete and easy to read chapters explaining and depicting the power of Matlab. Numerical Computation with Matlab demonstrates to the reader, student or professional users, what is possible in Matlab in easy to swallow bites, yet preserving the power and elegance of the software.

The book is structured such that a reader can read a chapter about a desired topic, and be able to understand how Matlab can do that specific task without the need to read the other parts of the book. Each chapter is self contained with appropriate examples, exercises, and sample code that can be understood without the need to search the entire book in order to find how to solve a differential equation, for example. The exercises range from simple reworking of an example that was given in the text, or more advanced project that uses a number of Matlab toolboxes. In the academia environment, there are two ways to use this text: as a reference in engineering or computer science classes, or as a stand alone text for second year math majors. Even though the chapters are discrete and self-contained in content, there certainly is a continuous evolution of chapters. The author starts with simple arithmetic, and goes onto differentiation, integration, differential equation, etc… as the book progresses, with the Matlab code getting more advanced and complicated each time. If you are not familiar with Matlab, you are better off starting from the beginning of the book and following the content chapter by chapter, but you can skip around and tailor the content to your audience’s preference if need be. Prior calculus and/or differential equation knowledge is essential, even though the author goes into the basics of each topic before delving into the Matlab version of the topic.

Another very nice thing about this book is the accompanying toolbox created by the author himself. The NCM toolkit (named after the name of the book!), is a collection of over 70 M-files that are either referred to throughout the book, or must be modified as part of the exercises given at the end of each chapter. Pure mathematics or Matlab coding could get very boring, very fast. One of the advantages of the NCM toolkit is that it used much graphics are the means of getting the point across and keep the students interested.

Overall, Cleve Moler does an outstanding job covering the sweet-spot between Mathematics and Computer Science using Matlab. He demonstrates throughout his book, Numerical Computation with Matlab, the power and the flexibility of the software application, and how it can be used to make a scientist’s job easier.

Art Sedighi received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and will receive his M.S. Degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer in 1998 and 2004 respectively, and is currently pursuing his MS in Bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins University. He is a solutions architect with Platform Computing where he architects enterprise-wide grid solutions for fortune 500 firms in the financial, pharmaceutical and telecommunication industries. His research interests include Grid Computing, Software Engineering and Bioinformatics.