From The MathWorks:
MATLAB integrates mathematical computing, visualization, and a powerful language to provide a flexible environment for technical computing. The open architecture makes it easy to use MATLAB and its companion products to explore data, create algorithms, and create custom tools that provide early insights and competitive advantages.
This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com. So Matlab is a fairly robust platform for anyone with a basic programming background to be able to quickly produce algorithms to do a number of things. I have used it to automate image analysis and statistical analysis of biological data. I find it for the most part useful, but... I feel very strongly that Mathworks has a particularly greedy business model, where various bugs are not addressed until the yearly update, which you have to pay for again. Usually if a product has a flaw, the company wants to fix it, so that when they release the new product, their base of happy users will buy it. Mathworks seems to use the opposite approach, they don't fix the bugs, and if you want them fixed you HAVE to buy the new one, and then discover some more bugs that they again won't fix unless you pay more... grrr. I concur that their customer support staff is rude.