Numerical programming language MATLAB seems to be falling out of favor, finds this month’s TIOBE programming language index.

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The release of April’s edition of the TIOBE programming language index of the most popular programming languages saw a few marked changes across the board, with MATLAB notably continuing its fall out of the ranking’s top 20. In March, MATLAB ranked as the 15th most popular programming language for developers before falling to the 20th spot this month. Python remains the top programming language, according to TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen.

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MATLAB’s steady decline

The biggest takeaway from this month’s rankings is the continuous slide of MATLAB, the programming language most known for use in matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces and interfacing with programs written in other languages. MATLAB includes functions and developments for multiple disciplines through MATLAB Add-On Toolboxes. Some Toolbox examples for MATLAB include 5G, communications analysis and testing, and audio.

“MATLAB is about to drop out of the top 20 for the first time in more than 10 years,” said Jansen. “The MATLAB programming language is mainly used in the numerical analysis domain. It is often combined with Simulink models, which are from the same MathWorks company. Although MATLAB has a biannual release cycle, the language doesn’t evolve that much. And since MATLAB licenses are rather expensive, alternatives are catching up quickly.”

The alternatives mentioned by Jansen are becoming too much for MATLAB to compete with, as the rivals include powerhouse Python, which reigns as the leading programming language once again, and Julia, which has a focus on numerical analysis. Julia moves from 32 to 26 in the April edition of the TIOBE Index.

Winners and losers

Python not only kept the number one ranking of programming languages from last month, but also saw the biggest increase in usage from April 2021 to 2022: A 2.88% increase year over year, moving from the third-most utilized language to number one.

Elsewhere in the rankings, PHP found itself falling two spots from its March ranking, declining from the 8th spot to 10th. Because of PHP’s small dip, assembly language was able to nab the 8th place in TIOBE’s index, with SQL moving up from 10th to 9th.

Another uptick, this time on the outside of the top 20, was Visual FoxPro, moving up four spots from 27th up to 23rd. Visual FoxPro is a data-centric procedural programming language with object-oriented programming features.