GNU Octave Part 1 - Big picture

What’s Octave? According to the website —

  • Powerful mathematics-oriented syntax with built-in 2D/3D plotting and visualization tools
  • Free software, runs on GNU/Linux, macOS, BSD, and Microsoft Windows
  • Drop-in compatible with many Matlab scripts (largely compatible with Matlab)

Download from official website and let’s get started. In this short article we gonna explore what Octave can do.

2D plott

x = -2:0.5:2;
y = x .^ 2;
title("Simple 2-D Plot");
2D plotting with Octave
2D plotting with Octave

Beginner note: as soon as you use plot() method, a diagram will appear on GUI, then keep labeling the diagram and it will sync automatically.

3D plot

x = linspace(-2,2,50);
y = linspace(-2,2,50);
[xx,yy] = meshgrid(x,y);
meshc(xx, yy, 4-(xx .^ 2 + yy .^ 2));
3D plotting with Octave
3D plotting with Octave

Elementary Calculations

For example, exponent to the multiplication of i and pi

exp (i*pi)

Matrix Arithmetic

Let a be a simple 2x2 matrix and multiply with A transpose, just like math we can simple write.

A = [1 2; 3 4];
A * A';

Huge libs

Octave has build-in function libraries to enhance programmability, sin() cost() etc. Helper function for quick util like —

lookfor -all "standard deviation";


The package is the bundle of functions providing extra functionality for GNU Octave. Octave Forge is a central location for the development of packages for GNU Octave.

pkg install -forge package_name;


  • Semicolon at the end of each statement, will prevent from console out e.g
a = 5;
  • It’s dynamic type language, variable copy by value and case sensitive
a = "text";
b = a;
a = 1;
% a is 1 now, while b remain as 'text'
  • It has both C-like Structures and Python style (mixed)

Math problems

Solving Systems of Linear Equations, Integrating Differential Equations and more.



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Aung Zan Baw

Aung Zan Baw

Full stack developer, base in Myanmar. Turn coffee into code, a husband, a father, a reader.