Now, I am still a novice when it comes to programming. I believe MATLAB is definitely a great programming tool, one that I can play with, particularly, when I have free time.
I would love to hear from all answerers, what are the ways that can make one proficient in this field?
If you prefer to learn in a more structured/classroom environment, I would recommend the training courses from MathWorks:
Obviously, pick the ones that apply to what you want to do.
There are also some (free) interactive tutorials available on the MathWorks web site.
If you already have Matlab installed, type 'demo' in Matlab command window. Select 'Matlab' at the left column and you'll see three videos available for jump start. After that, type 'doc' and then find 'Matlab','Getting Started'. I taught myself Matlab this way.
In addition to the recommendation of others:
I highly recommend the book, " Mastering MATLAB " by Duane Hanselman. This book takes the reader through the basics and covers advanced topics with many, many examples.
In addition to the above: Browse/play through "all" demos.
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I'm pretty much self taught in MATLAB from the above.