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What is with all these MATLAB updates?

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Daniel Dolan
Daniel Dolan on 25 Jun 2020
Commented: Walter Roberson on 26 Jun 2020
Why are there so many MATLAB updates lately? There are two formal releases each year, but now it's pretty much a given that one or more updates will be pushed out between those releases. MATLAB 2020a is already in update 3! Are there more bugs per release now, or are these bugs more severe than in the past?


Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 25 Jun 2020
According to the updates listed in the release notes, the current number of updates is not high in r2020a relative to the past 5 years. Keep in mind that the r2020b release is coming soon . According to the FAQ regarding updates, "updates are a set of fixes for an existing installation" whereas an upgrade to a new release often includes new functions, features, and extended functionality of existing features. Some releases contain a large amount of changes and since the number of bugs likely correlates with the number of changes, it's natural that some releases will result in more updates than others.
Since r2015a, there is a median of 4.33 weeks per update. For comparison, the Google Chrome internet browswer is updated every 2-3 weeks (with >10x the employees of Mathworks).
Updates are a good thing. It shows that MathWorks is acting on bug reports and continually improving their product. A new feature could pass the most stringent of tests before it is released but with 4+ million Matlab users worldwide, it's not unlikely that some uncommon interaction may occur that stretches beyond the scope of the those tests and reveals a bug.
But I cannot answer whether there are more bug, a larger rate of bug-detection, or more efficient bug-fixes.
John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 25 Jun 2020
Also remember that as more and more toolboxes are introduced, there will be potentially more and more things to catch, more things to fix, more interactions between products. The total number of updates seems to be relatively uniform over the last couple of years though, based on the plot by Adam. Anyway, I'd rather see a fix sooner than later, and be forced to wait for the next full release.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 26 Jun 2020
One of the common criticisms of Mathworks in the past was that they "forced" people to buy product updates in order to get bug fixes.

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