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Champions 2.0


March 12, 2007

Jim TungThe MathWorks
Jim Tung
MathWorks Fellow

How has your company adapted and responded to the changing economic climate in the past five years when so many others companies did not?

The MathWorks has enjoyed strong and consistent growth since the company’s inception in 1984, reaching approximately $400M in revenue and a staff of 1,600 this past year. Our growth has been due in large part to our unwavering commitment to accelerate the pace of engineering and science by providing tools that improve the productivity of our customers in the scientific and engineering domains.

A key enabler behind that commitment is our ability as a self-funded, private company to invest in areas for the long haul, regardless of their short-term returns. Since we don’t have pressure from stock markets or external shareholders, we can leverage our deep understanding of our markets to develop and refine technology that we know will have significant benefit to our customers years down the road. By thinking years out, by applying our resources to invest in new areas of interest, and by understanding the challenges and solutions of users across markets and industries, we’ve been on a consistent course over the past twenty years.

What is your vision for the future of the life sciences market over the next several years?

Over the next several years, and for the foreseeable future, the life sciences will continue to incorporate computational techniques in their approaches. Those techniques won’t replace wet-bench experiments, but they will enable scientists to extract more information from their data and to perform in silico studies when live-subject studies aren’t warranted or possible. Perhaps more importantly, these computational techniques, which often use behavioral models of biological systems, will enable life scientists to represent, reuse, and build on their knowledge of biological systems. Biologists, computer scientists, and mathematicians will increasingly collaborate to develop new tools and techniques that the biologist can easily apply to their problems, while taking advantage of computational and mathematical advances to represent biological processes in an efficient and accurate way.

What products and services does your company provide and what special capabilities do they offer the life sciences market?

The MathWorks has two core products, MATLAB and Simulink. MATLAB is a high-level, interactive technical computing environment for data analysis and visualization, algorithm development, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for modeling and simulating dynamic systems.

We offer more than 80 products on top of MATLAB and Simulink, including the Bioinformatics Toolbox and SimBiology. The Bioinformatics Toolbox is designed for computational molecular biologists and other research scientists, extending MATLAB with functionality for accessing bioinformatics databases, analyzing sequences, microarray data, and mass spec data, and other techniques for genomics and proteomics projects. SimBiology is a systems biology product for modeling, simulating, and analyzing biochemical pathways, again built on the power and flexibility of the MATLAB environment. We also offer toolboxes for statistics, signal and image processing, optimization, and other techniques that are often used by computational biologists, biomedical engineers, and others in the life sciences. These products can be used on desktop computers, servers, and HPC clusters.

What are your most exciting products and initiatives in development, and how will they improve life science research?

The MathWorks is investing substantially to advance our products and capabilities for systems biology and bioinformatics, particularly microarray analysis. In both cases, we’re addressing the needs of our life sciences customers for greater in silico capabilities and automation of tasks. For example, using MATLAB on a high-performance computing cluster, a scientist can analyze hundreds of datasets faster than they could do ten by hand. With SimBiology, a computational biologist can simulate and analyze very complex pathways to guide wet-bench experiments with higher success rates than with traditional methods.  All of these are making dramatic enhancements in the way life science research is done.

Where do you see your company in five years?

The MathWorks will continue on our long-term mission, equipping the scientific and engineering communities with a combination of general and application-specific tools to address the big challenges and problems that they will be facing at that time. We’ll continue to be astonished by what our users invent and discover, and will continue to work diligently with organizations to help them obtain efficiency, productivity, and competitive advantages through the use of our products.

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