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Should I dive into linear algebra or follow the prerequisite first?


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#1 Czar05   Members   -  Reputation: 908

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 07:27 PM

I am currently a high school student taking Calculus with Application and code in my spare time. I am trying to dive deeper into game development and reading up on a lot of diverse topics. I have read on this forum that, unlike calculus, linear algebra has a bigger part in game development. The prerequisite for linear algebra is Calculus 2 and Calculus 3.

So my question is, should I hold off on linear algebra and focus on Calculus 2 and 3 or can I dive into linear algebra without needing the previous topics.

Thanks in Advance.

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#2 menyo   Members   -  Reputation: 428

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 08:13 PM

I dont know the system how your school or schools in America work. But skipping 2 prerequisites seem a big step. If your a natural in math and with the right commitment you might succeed but why the rush? A better person to ask would be your teacher since he should know if you are able to skip through to linear algebra.

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#3 superman3275   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2011

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 09:11 PM

Schools in America work like this: the class order works well until high school. Then they let you choose between Calculus AB / statistics, linear algebra / Calculus BC.
I know enough about linear algebra to know you only need knowledge through Algebra 1 to understand most of the topics. On Khan Academy video tutorials he even says that you can learn if you only know through pre-algebra. Just try it out and if it doesn't work out, switch classes. But above all, ask your teacher, because for all you know I could be some troll trying to trick you into going into Linear Algebra early.

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#4 Czar05   Members   -  Reputation: 908

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 09:20 PM

Oh, I didn't mean ditching my calculus class for a linear algebra class, I meant learning the subject in my spare time. Sorry for the confusion guys.

Thanks for the reply's superman3275 and menyo, keep them coming though.

#5 Wilfrost   Members   -  Reputation: 142

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 10:17 PM

It has been years since I took linear algebra, but I don't *remember* needing anything more advanced than Calc 1. Also, if you are planning on teaching yourself linear albegra, the worst that can happen is you get to something you don't understand. If that is the case, you can always come back to it after you get through your calc 2 class. This seems like a situation where you have very little to lose and a whole lot to gain! I'd go for it. Good luck in your studies!

#6 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1384

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 02:23 AM

you dont need to know calc1,2,3, & differential equations to learn linear algebra. All you need is algebra 2. I dont know why colleges block people from taking it unless they take 3 semesters of calc. its pretty stupid. Dont get fooled

#7 Memories are Better   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 769

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 02:48 AM

I find it strange that you would require calculus first to learn linear algebra, not sure why they would do that.

Im not sure what your endgame or mission in life is so im just going to say learn both and add statistics and applied physics to the list too, nothing bad has ever came out of learning more than your school needs you to ;)

Also I previously did the massive mistake of learning and swimming deep in calculus in order to help with graphics programming, I honestly assumed linear algebra was pre-calculus haha (bad I know) anyway a few months ago I read a linear algebra book and well I can see now why linear algebra is suggested on these forums, ofc I dont regret the extra learning, it helped with physics a lot but linear algebra was far more useful.

Edited by Dynamo_Maestro, 13 October 2012 - 02:59 AM.


#8 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18207

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 03:38 AM

Try it. You can always go back and learn more prerequisite material if you find it too difficult. Posted Image

#9 menyo   Members   -  Reputation: 428

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 06:17 AM

Oh, I didn't mean ditching my calculus class for a linear algebra class, I meant learning the subject in my spare time. Sorry for the confusion guys.

Thanks for the reply's superman3275 and menyo, keep them coming though.


Learning something in spare time, never hurts. And yes this will very well supplement to your desire of developing games.

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#10 Álvaro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12998

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 07:36 AM

The way I was taught Linear Algebra, you didn't really need to know much of anything. The first class defined what a field is and what a vector space is (both through axioms) and we went from there.

However, I must say that Linear Algebra is a class that you don't understand the year you take it: You understand it a couple of years later if you end up using it for anything. In my case, I ended up using it a lot in numerical calculus and in understanding the dynamics of differential equations, and only then did I truly understand a lot of it.

Edited by alvaro, 15 October 2012 - 06:15 PM.


#11 SiCrane   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9574

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 07:43 AM

The kind of linear algebra needed for game programming doesn't need calculus to apply. Occasionally calculus is useful in knowing the derivation of the formulas you use, but if you don't care about doing all the proofs behind the applications you can ignore it. However, many college level linear algebra courses go beyond the simple level necessary for doing 3D graphics. For example, when your vector space isn't R3 or R4 but a function space, you'll need calculus just to normalize your basis vectors. Not highly useful in game programming, but necessary for the kind of math courses that linear algebra is itself a prerequisite for in college.




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