Software tutorial/Software installation

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Have you already installed the software? Jump ahead to the "getting started" section of the course tutorial.


MATLAB is installed on all computers in the John Hodgins Engineering Student Technology Centre (JHE 233A, 234) as well as the Burke Science Building Labs (BSB 241, 242, 244, 249). The most up to date release of MATLAB is version R2010b. While there are some backward compatibility issues when it comes to older versions of MATLAB, for the level of code that will be encountered in this class students should not encounter issues with portability of code.

A MATLAB/SIMULINK student package (version R2010a, good for Windows, Mac, and Linux) is available at the University Book Store for $112.95 (for those students who would like a copy of MATLAB on their laptop or home PC). The student versions comes with the following features:

  • MATLAB version R2010a (Everything you need to get started)
  • Simulink (Will be useful in your control classes)
  • Control System Toolbox
  • Signal Processing Toolbox
  • Signal Processing Blockset
  • Statistics Toolbox
  • Optimization Toolbox
  • Symbolic Math Toolbox
  • Image Processing Toolbox
  • Product Demos

One of the TA's has a student copy on his home PC and considers it a good buy, if you have the extra cash.

If you have purchased the student version, then please follow the installation instructions that accompany it.

Python is freely available. The latest stable version that we recommend for the course is version 2.6, because it is compatible with the external libraries that we will use.

Windows users

Here are some instructions, specific to this course for Windows users that want to use Python for the course. Linux and Mac users: please scroll down for installation instructions.

Python is an open source software. Because of this, various groups have "packaged" the official Python distribution to meet certain needs. For example:

However, for this course, we will use the Python version as distributed from, and called Python(X,Y).

Official website
Latest version
Official download page Link
  1. Run the software installation after downloading the installation file from the above link, run the program.
  2. The default installation options are perfect for this course.
  3. It can take quite a while to install.
  4. Continue with the official course software tutorial to learn how to use Python.

Mac and Linux users

Python is already installed on all Mac computers and most (all?) Linux computers. If you go to your command prompt (the program is called "Terminal" on Macs), you can type python and it will start a bare-bones Python session.

However, we will use the Enthought Python distribution, which is better suited to our course. It contains all the tools that we require. Please follow these instructions to install it.

  • Visit the academic download section of Enthought's website.
  • Choose your operating system and fill in your McMaster University email address
  • Download and install the software.
  • It will take some time, because it installs Python and a large collection of libraries (modules).
  • Once installed, you can continue here with the tutorial.