❗ Windows and MacOS platforms : MATLAB versions R2022 and R2023 do not work with MATLAB.jl ❗ You can use older versions as explained further down. 

The MATLAB.jl
package provides an interface for using MATLAB® from Julia using the MATLAB C api. In other words, this package allows users to call MATLAB functions within Julia, thus making it easy to interoperate with MATLAB from the Julia language.
You cannot use MATLAB.jl
without having purchased and installed a copy of MATLAB® from MathWorks. This package is available free of charge and in no way replaces or alters any functionality of MathWorks's MATLAB product.
This package is composed of two aspects:

Creating and manipulating mxArrays (the data structure that MATLAB used to represent arrays and other kinds of data)

Communicating with MATLAB engine sessions
Warning:

MATLAB string arrays are not supported, and will throw an error exception. This also applies if they are nested within a MATLAB struct. This is a limitation of the MATLAB C api. The MATLAB function
convertContainedStringsToChars
may be used to facilitate conversion to a compatible format for use withMATLAB.jl
. 
Threading is also not supported within Julia when using the MATLAB.jl library.
Important: The procedure to setup this package consists of the following steps.

For Matlab R2020a onwards, you should be able to go directly to step 2. If you encounter issues, run
matlab batch "comserver('register')"
in the command prompt. For earlier versions of Matlab, start a command prompt as an administrator and entermatlab /regserver
. 
From Julia run:
Pkg.add("MATLAB")

Make sure
matlab
is in executable path. 
Make sure
csh
is installed. (Note: MATLAB for Linux relies oncsh
to open an engine session.)To install
csh
in Debian/Ubuntu/Linux Mint, you may type in the following command in terminal:sudo aptget install csh

From Julia run:
Pkg.add("MATLAB")
If you experience problems when starting the MATLAB engine with versions R2022 or R2023, try to update your MATLAB release.

Ensure that MATLAB is installed in
/Applications
(for example, if you are using MATLAB R2012b, you may add the following command to.profile
:export MATLAB_HOME=/Applications/MATLAB_R2012b.app
). 
From Julia run:
Pkg.add("MATLAB")
By default, MATLAB.jl
is built using the MATLAB installation with the greatest version number. To specify that a specific MATLAB installation should be used, set the environment variable MATLAB_ROOT
:
julia> ENV["MATLAB_ROOT"] = "/usr/local/MATLAB/R2021b" # example on a Linux machine
julia> ENV["MATLAB_ROOT"] = raw"C:\Program Files\MATLAB\R2021b" # example on a Windows machine
Replace the path string with the location of the MATLAB folder on your machine. You need to set the path to the R20XX
folder, not the matlab
binary.
If you had the package MATLAB.jl
already installed and built before changing the environment variable, you will need to rebuild it to apply the change:
julia> using Pkg; Pkg.build("MATLAB")
An instance of MxArray
encapsulates a MATLAB variable. This package provides a series of functions to manipulate such instances.
One can use the function mxarray
to create MATLAB variables (of type MxArray
), as follows
mxarray(Float64, n) # creates an nby1 MATLAB zero array of double valued type
mxarray(Int32, m, n) # creates an mbyn MATLAB zero array of int32 valued type
mxarray(Bool, m, n) # creates a MATLAB logical array of size mbyn
mxarray(Float64, (n1, n2, n3)) # creates a MATLAB array of size n1byn2byn3
mxcellarray(m, n) # creates a MATLAB cell array
mxstruct("a", "b", "c") # creates a MATLAB struct with given fields
You may also convert a Julia variable to MATLAB variable
a = rand(m, n)
x = mxarray(a) # converts a to a MATLAB array
x = mxarray(1.2) # converts a scalar 1.2 to a MATLAB variable
a = sprand(m, n, 0.1)
x = mxarray(a) # converts a sparse matrix to a MATLAB sparse matrix
x = mxarray("abc") # converts a string to a MATLAB char array
x = mxarray(["a", 1, 2.3]) # converts a Julia array to a MATLAB cell array
x = mxarray(Dict("a"=>1, "b"=>"string", "c"=>[1,2,3])) # converts a Julia dictionary to a MATLAB struct
The function mxarray
can also convert a compound type to a Julia struct:
struct S
x::Float64
y::Vector{Int32}
z::Bool
end
s = S(1.2, Int32[1, 2], false)
x = mxarray(s) # creates a MATLAB struct with three fields: x, y, z
xc = mxarray([s, s]) # creates a MATLAB cell array, each cell is a struct.
xs = mxstructarray([s, s]) # creates a MATLAB array of structs
Note: For safety, the conversation between MATLAB and Julia variables uses deep copy.
When you finish using a MATLAB variable, you may call delete
to free the memory. But this is optional, it will be deleted when reclaimed by the garbage collector.
delete(x)
Note: if you put a MATLAB variable x
to MATLAB engine session, then the MATLAB engine will take over the management of its life cylce, and you don't have to delete it explicitly.
You may access attributes and data of a MATLAB variable through the functions provided by this package.
# suppose x is of type MxArray
nrows(x) # returns number of rows in x
ncols(x) # returns number of columns in x
nelems(x) # returns number of elements in x
ndims(x) # returns number of dimensions in x
size(x) # returns the size of x as a tuple
size(x, d) # returns the size of x along a specific dimension
eltype(x) # returns element type of x (in Julia Type)
elsize(x) # return number of bytes per element
data_ptr(x) # returns pointer to data (in Ptr{T}), where T is eltype(x)
# suppose s is a MATLAB struct
mxnfields(s) # returns the number of fields in struct s
You may also make tests on a MATLAB variable.
is_double(x) # returns whether x is a double array
is_sparse(x) # returns whether x is sparse
is_complex(x) # returns whether x is complex
is_cell(x) # returns whether x is a cell array
is_struct(x) # returns whether x is a struct
is_empty(x) # returns whether x is empty
... # there are many more there
a = jarray(x) # converts x to a Julia array
a = jvector(x) # converts x to a Julia vector (1D array) when x is a vector
a = jscalar(x) # converts x to a Julia scalar
a = jmatrix(x) # converts x to a Julia matrix
a = jstring(x) # converts x to a Julia string
a = jdict(x) # converts a MATLAB struct to a Julia dictionary (using fieldnames as keys)
a = jvalue(x) # converts x to a Julia value in default manner
This package provides functions to manipulate MATLAB's mat files:
mf = MatFile(filename, mode) # opens a MAT file using a specific mode, and returns a handle
mf = MatFile(filename) # opens a MAT file for reading, equivalent to MatFile(filename, "r")
close(mf) # closes a MAT file.
get_mvariable(mf, name) # gets a variable and returns an mxArray
get_variable(mf, name) # gets a variable, but converts it to a Julia value using `jvalue`
put_variable(mf, name, v) # puts a variable v to the MAT file
# v can be either an MxArray instance or normal variable
# If v is not an MxArray, it will be converted using `mxarray`
put_variables(mf; name1=v1, name2=v2, ...) # put multiple variables using keyword arguments
variable_names(mf) # get a vector of all variable names in a MAT file
There are also convenient functions that can get/put all variables in one call:
read_matfile(filename) # returns a dictionary that maps each variable name
# to an MxArray instance
write_matfile(filename; name1=v1, name2=v2, ...) # writes all variables given in the
# keyword argument list to a MAT file
Both read_matfile
and write_matfile
will close the MAT file handle before returning.
Examples:
struct S
x::Float64
y::Bool
z::Vector{Float64}
end
write_matfile("test.mat";
a = Int32[1 2 3; 4 5 6],
b = [1.2, 3.4, 5.6, 7.8],
c = [[0.0, 1.0], [1.0, 2.0], [1.0, 2.0, 3.0]],
d = Dict("name"=>"MATLAB", "score"=>100.0),
s = "abcde",
ss = [S(1.0, true, [1., 2.]), S(2.0, false, [3., 4.])] )
This example will create a MAT file called test.mat
, which contains six MATLAB variables:
a
: a 2by3 int32 arrayb
: a 4by1 double arrayc
: a 3by1 cell array, each cell contains a double vectord
: a struct with two fields: name and scores
: a string (i.e. char array)ss
: an array of structs with two elements, and three fields: x, y, and z.
To evaluate expressions in MATLAB, one may open a MATLAB engine session and communicate with it. There are three ways to call MATLAB from Julia:
 The
mat""
custom string literal allows you to write MATLAB syntax inside Julia and use Julia variables directly from MATLAB via interpolation  The
eval_string
evaluate a string containing MATLAB expressions (typically used with the helper macros@mget
and@mput
 The
mxcall
function calls a given MATLAB function and returns the result
In general, the mat""
custom string literal is the preferred method to interact with the MATLAB engine.
Note: There can be multiple (reasonable) ways to convert a MATLAB variable to Julia array. For example, MATLAB represents a scalar using a 1by1 matrix. Here we have two choices in terms of converting such a matrix back to Julia: (1) convert to a scalar number, or (2) convert to a matrix of size 1by1.
Text inside the mat""
custom string literal is in MATLAB syntax. Variables from Julia can be "interpolated" into MATLAB code by prefixing them with a dollar sign as you would interpolate them into an ordinary string.
using MATLAB
x = range(10.0, stop=10.0, length=500)
mat"plot($x, sin($x))" # evaluate a MATLAB function
y = range(2.0, stop=3.0, length=500)
mat"""
$u = $x + $y
$v = $x  $y
"""
@show u v # u and v are accessible from Julia
As with ordinary string literals, you can also interpolate whole Julia expressions, e.g. mat"$(x[1]) = $(x[2]) + $(binomial(5, 2))"
.
You may also use the eval_string
function to evaluate MATLAB code as follows
eval_string("a = sum([1,2,3])")
The eval_string
function also takes an optional argument that specifies which MATLAB session to evaluate the code in, e.g.
julia> s = MSession();
julia> eval_string(s, "a = sum([1,2,3])")
a =
6
You may also directly call a MATLAB function on Julia variables using mxcall
:
x = 10.0:0.1:10.0
y = 10.0:0.1:10.0
xx, yy = mxcall(:meshgrid, 2, x, y)
Note: Since MATLAB functions behavior depends on the number of outputs, you have to specify the number of output arguments in mxcall
as the second argument.
mxcall
puts the input arguments to the MATLAB workspace (using mangled names), evaluates the function call in MATLAB, and retrieves the variable from the MATLAB session. This function is mainly provided for convenience. However, you should keep in mind that it may incur considerable overhead due to the communication between MATLAB and Julia domain.
The macro @mget
can be used to extract the value of a MATLAB variable into Julia
julia> mat"a = 6"
julia> @mget a
6.0
The macro @mput
can be used to translate a Julia variable into MATLAB
julia> x = [1,2,3]
julia> @mput x
julia> eval_string("y = sum(x)")
julia> @mget y
6.0
julia> @show y
a = 63.0
If the MATLAB function is not in the current directory, we need to first add it to the MATLAB path before calling through Julia:
mat"addpath('/path/to/folder')"
val = mat"myfunction($arg1, $arg2)"
For example, if there is a MATLAB file located at /path/to/folder
with contents:
function [r,u] = test(x, y)
r = x + y;
u = x  y;
end
We can call this function as follows in Julia:
using MATLAB
x = range(10.0, stop=10.0, length=500)
y = range(2.0, stop=3.0, length=500)
mat"addpath('/path/to/folder')"
r, u = mxcall(:test,2,x,y)
To open an interactive window for the MATLAB session, use the command show_msession()
and to hide the window, use hide_msession()
. Warning: manually closing this window will result in an error or result in a segfault; it is advised that you only use the hide_msession()
command to hide the interactive window.
Note that this feature only works on Windows.
# default
show_msession() # open the default MATLAB session interactive window
get_msession_visiblity() # get the session's visibility state
hide_msession() # hide the default MATLAB session interactive window
# similarly
s = MSession()
show_msession(s)
get_msession_visiblity(a)
hide_msession(s)
This package provides a series of functions for users to control the communication with MATLAB sessions.
Here is an example:
s1 = MSession() # creates a MATLAB session
s2 = MSession(0) # creates a MATLAB session without recording output
x = rand(3, 4)
put_variable(s1, :x, x) # put x to session s1
y = rand(2, 3)
put_variable(s2, :y, y) # put y to session s2
eval_string(s1, "r = sin(x)") # evaluate sin(x) in session s1
eval_string(s2, "r = sin(y)") # evaluate sin(y) in session s2
r1_mx = get_mvariable(s1, :r) # get r from s1
r2_mx = get_mvariable(s2, :r) # get r from s2
r1 = jarray(r1_mx)
r2 = jarray(r2_mx)
# ... do other stuff on r1 and r2
close(s1) # close session s1
close(s2) # close session s2