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Old Nov 9, 2007, 01:25 PM   #1
Cromulent
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My lack of maths is a real problem

My lack of understanding when it comes to maths is becoming a real problem for me. Can anyone recommend some good A-level books for maths for a GCSE level person who is looking to improve?

A-level for the Americans amongst you is 16 - 18 year old level. I would really appreciate some advice as it is a subject I'm not that great with and would love to get a firmer understanding. I'll be looking at maths as related to games programming. So the major areas there are what I am really interested in.

Thanks for any help.
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 01:30 PM   #2
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Not sure of a good math book (I'm sure any would do - mine from school is called Technical Calculus), but if you're interested in game programming you probably want a good physics book too.
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 01:34 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by kainjow View Post
Not sure of a good math book (I'm sure any would do - mine from school is called Technical Calculus), but if you're interested in game programming you probably want a good physics book too.
Yep, but physics without maths is like a car without wheels. One step at a time .

I'll have a look at that book.
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 01:38 PM   #4
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Most physics that you'd need for basic game programming is probably only trigonometry, and then knowing the kinematics (basic algebra). Good luck though
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 02:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cromulent View Post
My lack of understanding when it comes to maths is becoming a real problem for me. Can anyone recommend some good A-level books for maths for a GCSE level person who is looking to improve?

A-level for the Americans amongst you is 16 - 18 year old level. I would really appreciate some advice as it is a subject I'm not that great with and would love to get a firmer understanding. I'll be looking at maths as related to games programming. So the major areas there are what I am really interested in.

Thanks for any help.
Would be nice if there was just one book that you could read in a week. Most of us were not that smart and we had to take a series of clases, one after the next. It took years.

I think what you need for some games is an understanding of basic analytic geometry, trigonometry and enough calculus that you can understand basic physics (mechanics, the stuff Issac Newton discovered) I guess that would be the calculus of polynomials and trig functions. There is a practical side to this too typically the subject is called "numerical methods" where they cover efficient implementation methods. Most students have this covered only after their first year at a university. A few will have this completed by the end of high school. Quite honestly, you would be the exception if you could go faster and teach yourself this but maybe so...

Another option is to find a software package that has what you need. There are some available for free. Even with an education in engineering and computer science I would not write this kind of software myself. Not when I can get it for free.

Take a look at this. I think it is widely used for games programming
http://www.ode.org/

Last edited by ChrisA; Nov 9, 2007 at 02:23 PM.
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 02:25 PM   #6
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Would be nice if there was just one book that you could read in a week. Most of us were not that smart and we had to take a series of clases, one after the next. It took years.
Well I did state books. I'm not expecting to get great at it but the only way forwards is to start reading.

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I think what you need for some games is an understanding of basic analytic geometry, trigonomitry and enough calculus that you can understand basic physics (mechanics, the stuff Issac Newton discovered) I geuss that would be the calculus of polynominals and truig functions. Most students have this covered only after their first year at a university. A few will have this completed by the end of high school. Quite honestly, you would bethe excetion if you could go faster and teach yourself this but maybe so...
I'll never know if I don't try. My dad is a physicist so I'm not completely in the dark about physics and maths. But I did not specialise in it. I went the English route rather than the science route.

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Another option is to find a software package that has what you need. There are some available for free. Even with an education in enginerring and computer science I would not write this kind of software myself. Not I can get it for free.

Take a look at this. I think it is widely used for games programming
http://www.ode.org/
I prefer to understand what I am doing rather than just letting something else do it for me. I find it helps in the long run.
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 04:38 PM   #7
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I prefer to understand what I am doing rather than just letting something else do it for me. I find it helps in the long run.
In order to use most of the libraries, you will need to have a basic understanding of what is going on. ChrisA's advice is very sensible as it is all too easy to get lost in the fine details.

It might be a bit advanced, but maybe not, so have a look at the maths classes online at MIT's opencourseware site. They have videos of some very good university level lectures. Even if you don't have the maths, if you have been programming for a while you will probably understand them. It's great to see someone explain things clearly, too.

http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/courses/av/index.htm
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 07:29 PM   #8
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Don't forget Linear Algebra. I've been writing apps to extend a 3D modeling program via plugins for the past few years, and I too am hindered by a shortness of math (it's singular on this side of the pond) skills. Things like transformations (rotational, scaling, fixed) and translations I figure out via hack. Vector multiplication and other functions (cross products, dot products) are fortunately handled by functions provided by the API.

When I relocate in a couple years, I'll position myself next to a larger college with night courses so I can keep my education going.

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Old Nov 10, 2007, 03:38 AM   #9
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You could have a look at the Open University. They used to do a course called M101 which I think would have been ideal. I don't know what they offer now, but the benefit of a course is you get access to tutors etc. It's a lot more expensive than a book though!

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Old Nov 10, 2007, 10:16 AM   #10
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You could get C1 to C4 and M1 to M3 (A Level Maths text books) and go through those. (Example Link)

Linear Algebra in First Year University is also useful for programming, though I can't remember what books are good.
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Old Nov 11, 2007, 11:55 AM   #11
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Thanks for the help guys.

I've decided to hire a personal tutor for this. I think otherwise I would be in over my head very quickly and it is something I am incredibly keen on improving.

I'll certainly take a look at all the suggestions though.
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