MATLAB engine API for Python

As SystemLab|Design is based on the Python programming language, it is possible to call MathWorks MATLAB ® as a computational engine from a functional block script. After creating an instance of the MatlabEngine class you can call MATLAB functions and algorithms and exchange data between the Python script and the MATLAB workspace.

The following procedure (for Windows 10) describes how to setup and run the MATLAB ® Engine API for Python ® .


To run the MATLAB Engine API for Python you must have a supported version of MATLAB (R2014A or later) running on the same operating system where SystemLab|Design is installed.


MATLAB verifies the version of Python installed on your computer based on the system path (this can be verified by calling the pyenv function in the MATLAB command window). As the version of Python included with SystemLab|Design is a binary module it will not be registered under the Windows system path, and thus (assuming that you don’t currently have Python installed on your computer) it may be necessary to download and install a standalone version of Python on your computer prior to running the procedure below. A version of Python can be downloaded from During installation make sure to check the box next to Add Python to environment variables.

Additional information on the use of this feature and its installation can be found on the MathWorks ® web site: Calling MATLAB from Python.

How to install the MATLAB Engine API for Python for SystemLab|Design

  1. Launch the Windows command prompt window by entering in the search field from the taskbar command or cmd

  2. Below the Command Prompt select Run as administrator.

  1. A User Account Control dialog will open to confirm that you want to allow this app to make changes to your device. Select Yes to continue.

  1. From the command prompt type:

    cd C:\path_to_matlab_root_dir\extern\engines\python

    Note: “path_to_matlab_root_dir” is for example “C:\Program Files\MATLAB\R2020b”.

  1. From the command prompt type:

    python install --prefix="C:\path_to_systemlab_application\systemlab_design"

    Note: “path_to_systemlab_application” is the location where the “systemlab_design” folder is installed on your computer. [The cmd window should output information indicating that the installation build is running, creating and copying files to the target directory.]

  1. To verify that the MATLAB API was correctly installed check that there is a new folder matlab under the …\systemlab_design\Lib\site-packages folder.

    Note: The “Lib/site-packages” folder is a new folder and may appear at the bottom of the systemlab-design project files directory. Select the Refresh button of the Windows File Explorer to move the folder to upper portion of the directory.

  1. Select the folder matlab and drag and drop it to the folder systemlab_design. [This step is important as it will ensure that the matlab.engine can be located and successfully imported from any functional block script.]


Test that the MATLAB engine can be called from a functional block script

  1. Launch a new application of SystemLab|Design by double left-clicking on the SystemLab-Design.exe executable file.

  2. Add a new functional block to the default project scene with the following settings:

    1. Add one port to the functional block with the following settings: Port name: ‘Out’, Cardinal point: East, Direction: Out, Signal type: Electrical (remember to click Apply before saving and closing the Add ports dialog).

    2. Functional block name/ID: MATLAB Test

    3. Script module name: Matlab_Run

  3. Open a session of SciTE (or equivalent) by selecting Edit/Open code/script editor.

  4. Within the editing panel (under “1 Untitled”) copy and paste the code as shown in the box below.

    Note: In the code below we initiate a new MATLAB process by calling eng = matlab.engine.start_matlab(). We then build an array of ones within the MATLAB workspace and access this array using the command sig_array = matlab.double(eng.ones(1,n)).

    To ensure that the array matches the Numpy array format we use the command sig_array = np.asarray(sig_array[0]) to convert the Python list to a Numpy array. The data from this array is then returned to the simulation algorithm and allocated to the output port of the functional block.

    import numpy as np
    import config
    import matlab.engine
    def run(input_signal_data, parameters_input, settings):
            '''==PROJECT SETTINGS==================================================='''
            module_name = 'MATLAB Test'
            n = settings['num_samples']
            n = int(round(n))
            time = settings['time_window']
            fs = settings['sampling_rate']
            carrier = 0
            sig_type = 'Electrical'
            parameters_input = []
            time_array = np.linspace(0, time, n)
            noise_array = np.zeros(n)
            if config.sim_status_win_enabled == True:
                    config.sim_status_win.textEdit.append('Starting MATLAB Engine... ')
            # Initiate a new MATLAB process
            eng = matlab.engine.start_matlab()
            # Build array (within MATLAB workspace) and access locally
            sig_array = matlab.double(eng.ones(1,n))
            # Change array from python list format to numpy array format
            sig_array = np.asarray(sig_array[0])
            # eng.desktop(nargout=0)
            if config.sim_status_win_enabled == True:
                    config.sim_status_win.textEdit.append('Quiting MATLAB Engine... ')
            matlab_results = []
            '''==RETURN (Output Signals, Parameters, Results)=================================='''
            electrical_signal = [1, sig_type, carrier, fs, time_array, sig_array, noise_array]
            return ([electrical_signal], parameters_input, matlab_results)
  5. Save the file as within the folder systemlab_design (make sure to include the suffix .py in the File Name field when saving) and close the session of SciTE.

  6. Start running a simulation [The simulation should complete as shown below]

  1. Double left click on the output port of MATLAB Test to verify that an output signal is created as shown below:


About the MATLAB engine API for Python…

As shown in this example, you can call any MATLAB function or a custom script (m-file) directly from the functional block Python script. Data arguments can be passed from Python to the MATLAB engine (in this example we have used the number of samples ‘n’) and returned by declaring local variables in Python (in this example we used ‘sig_array’). Also, any data types within the MATLAB workspace can be accessed through the command a = eng.workspace(‘data’) where ‘a’ is the local variable in Python and ‘data’ is a data variable located within the MATLAB workspace.

Further information on how to exhange data between Python and MATLAB can be found on the MathWorks ® web site: Calling MATLAB from Python.


NOTE: To initiate a MATLAB process from within a functional block script the import matlab.engine statement MUST be included at the beginning of the script. Also, once calculations linked to the MATLAB process have been completed, the active session of the MATLAB engine MUST be closed by using the eng.quit() command. If the process is not terminated, the functional block script will remain in a suspended state!