Hiring guide for MATLAB Engineers

MATLAB Developer Hiring Guide

MATLAB is a high-level programming language and environment designed specifically for numerical computation. Developed by MathWorks, MATLAB allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages. It's widely used by engineers and scientists for tasks such as data analysis, signal processing, modeling and simulation. The name MATLAB stands for Matrix Laboratory because its basic data element is a matrix that does not require dimensioning which makes it particularly useful for solving mathematical problems involving vectors or matrices.

Ask the right questions secure the right MATLAB talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General MATLAB app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in MATLAB application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

How would you explain the basic structure of a MATLAB program?
A MATLAB program typically begins with initialization of variables, followed by implementation of algorithms, and ends with output and visualization of results. The program is written in script files (M-files) and can be broken down into smaller, manageable functions or scripts.
What are the uses of MATLAB?
MATLAB is used for a variety of applications including signal and image processing, control systems, test and measurement, computational finance, and computational biology. It is particularly useful for linear algebra computations and it's widely used in academic and research environments due to its flexibility and the vast library of built-in functions.
How would you import data into MATLAB?
Data can be imported into MATLAB using various methods. For example, using the 'load' command for .mat files or using the 'xlsread' or 'readtable' command for Excel files. You can also use the 'Import Data' button in the toolbar.
Describe the difference between a script and a function in MATLAB.
A script is a file with a .m extension that contains multiple sequential lines of MATLAB commands and function calls. It does not accept input arguments or return output arguments. A function is also a .m file, but it can accept input arguments and return output arguments. Variables in a function are local to the function.
What is a cell array in MATLAB and how would you use it?
A cell array is a data type with indexed data containers called cells, where each cell can contain any type of data. Cell arrays commonly contain either lists of character vectors of different lengths, or mixes of strings and numbers, or numeric arrays of different sizes.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong understanding of MATLAB language and its syntax?
How well does the candidate understand mathematical modeling and numerical analysis?
Does the candidate have experience with data visualization in MATLAB?
Can the candidate work with MATLAB's toolboxes?

Next 20 minutes

Specific MATLAB development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

What is the purpose of the 'clf' and 'cla' commands in MATLAB?
'clf' clears the current figure window, and 'cla' clears the current axes. These commands are useful when you want to create a new plot without opening a new figure or axes.
How would you handle errors and exceptions in MATLAB?
MATLAB provides 'try' and 'catch' statements to handle errors and exceptions. If an error occurs within the 'try' block, MATLAB passes control to the 'catch' block. The 'lasterror' function can be used to retrieve information about the error.
What is the difference between '==' and '=' in MATLAB?
'==' is a relational operator used to check the equality of two arrays element by element, while '=' is an assignment operator used to assign the value of the right operand to the left operand.
What are anonymous functions in MATLAB?
Anonymous functions are one-line expressions-based functions that do not require program files. They are useful when a simple function needs to be passed as an argument to another function.
How would you optimize the performance of MATLAB code?
Code performance can be improved by preallocating memory for large arrays, using vectorized operations instead of loops, avoiding unnecessary calculations within loops, and using efficient data types and structures. MATLAB's built-in profiler can be used to identify bottlenecks in the code.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the MATLAB engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled MATLAB engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in MATLAB programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with MATLAB.

What does the following MATLAB code do?
x = 1:10;
y = sin(x);
plot(x, y);
This code generates a sine wave. It first creates a vector x with values from 1 to 10. Then it calculates the sine of each value in x and stores the results in vector y. Finally, it plots y against x, which results in a sine wave.
What will be the output of the following MATLAB code?
A = [1 2 3; 4 5 6; 7 8 9];
B = A(2, :);
The output will be the second row of matrix A. So, B will be [4 5 6].
What does the following MATLAB code do?
A = [1 2 3; 4 5 6; 7 8 9];
B = A(:, end:-1:1);
This code reverses the order of the columns in matrix A. The result is stored in matrix B.
What does the following MATLAB code do?
    if labindex == 1
        A = rand(1000);
    elseif labindex == 2
        A = labReceive(1);
This code uses MATLAB's parallel computing toolbox to generate a 1000x1000 matrix of random numbers on worker 1, and then sends that matrix to worker 2.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for MATLAB Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle MATLAB application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

What is the purpose of the 'persist' keyword in MATLAB?
The 'persistent' keyword in MATLAB is used to declare a variable as persistent. A persistent variable retains its value even after the function has finished executing, which can be useful in situations where a function needs to remember the state of variables between calls.
What are nested functions in MATLAB and when would you use them?
Nested functions are defined within the body of another function and have access to the parent function's workspace. They are useful when you want to share data between a set of functions without passing them as arguments.
What is the difference between 'hold on' and 'hold off' in MATLAB?
'hold on' retains the current plot and certain axes properties so that subsequent graphing commands add to the existing graph. 'hold off' resets these properties to their defaults, so that the next graphing command clears the axes and resets these properties before drawing.

MATLAB application related

Product Perfect's MATLAB development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your MATLAB engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in MATLAB projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.