Getting Started with Scilab

Introducing one of the larger scientific lab packages for Linux.

is meant to be an overall package for numerical science, along the
lines of Maple, Matlab or Mathematica. Although a lot of built-in
functionality exists for all sorts of scientific computations, Scilab
also includes its own programming language, which allows you to use that functionality
to its utmost. If you prefer, you instead can use this language to extend
Scilab’s functionality into completely new areas of research. Some of
the functionality includes 2D and 3D visualization and optimization tools,
as well as statistical functions. Also included in Scilab is Xcos, an
editor for
designing dynamical systems models.

Several options exist for installing Scilab on your system. Most package
management systems should have one or more packages available for
Scilab, which also will install several support packages. Or, you
simply can download and install a tarball that contains
everything you need to be able to run Scilab on your system.

it’s installed, start the GUI version of Scilab with
the scilab command. If you installed Scilab via tarball, this command will
be located in the bin subdirectory where you unpacked the tarball.

it first starts, you should see a full workspace created for your

Figure 1. When you first start Scilab, you’ll see an empty
workspace ready for you to start a new project.

On the left-hand side is a file browser where you can see data
files and Scilab scripts. The right-hand side has several
panes. The top pane is a variable browser, where you can see what
currently exists within the workspace. The middle pane contains a
list of commands within that workspace, and the bottom pane has
a news feed of Scilab-related news. The center of the workspace is the
actual Scilab console where you can interact with the execution engine.

Let’s start with some basic mathematics—for example,

--> 23/7
 ans  =


As you can see, the command prompt is -->, where you enter the
next command to the execution engine. In the variable browser, you
can see a new variable named ans that contains the results of the

Along with basic arithmetic, there is also a number of built-in functions. One thing to be aware of is that these function names are
case-sensitive. For example, the statement sqrt(9) gives the answer
of 3, whereas the statement SQRT(9) returns an error.

also are built-in constants for numbers like e or pi. You can use them
in statements, like this command to find the sine of pi/2:

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