The other major new release from The MathWorks is Matlab’s counterpart, Simulink 5. This program, which uses a built-in Matlab computational base to generate simulations from block diagrams, is the best tool available for simulation of mechanical control systems and digital signal processing. It includes hundreds of predefined blocks for simulating mechanics, power electronics, and signal processing, and you can save Simulink models in Matlab m-code for further tweaking or for conversion to C or FORTRAN code. One important new feature is support for fixed-point numerics, which allows modelers to make sure no model output behavior is actually a quirk of floating-point computational conventions.
Be aware that the Mac version of Simulink 5 doesn’t have The MathWorks’ generators for embedded code for popular digital signal processor (DSP) and microcontroller chips, nor does it include most of the block sets connected with data acquisition. These tools are compelling reasons to use Simulink, rather than other programs, in important engineering applications, and their absence is a major loss to Mac users — if you really need all that Simulink offers, you may as well install it on a plain Unix machine rather than on a Mac. But the Mac version really targets the university market rather than working engineers, and as a tool for teaching simulation methods, Simulink 5 is uniquely effective.