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subflood

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I can't get a good grip on math and it's killing me when programming. I have a hard time when it comes to logical thinking, maybe this is because I didn't really care about school early on (never had a solid foundation on math) and now it's hurting me. I don't mind working with numbers and equations are also pretty easy to solve but the problem comes in when it's time to make your own formulas or to change previous ones to get an answer. I think I can also blame some of my previous teachers for my problems because they never explained why the formulas work, we just substitue the numbers for the variables and get the answer. What would you guys recommend me do? I tried spark notes but that didn't really work out. I'm also not sure how far back I should go to learn math (I'm currently in 11th grade). Please any suggestions on how I should approach learning math would also be very helpful.

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Well, what is really not good is your lack of a descriptive title. ^_^

This isn't really a good site to ask that class of question on either. Its a game programming oriented site.

Now, what I would recommend in your situation is perhaps the hardest thing: practice.
Sit down and start working math problems. Dig up a old high school algebra 1 textbook(50s-70s ones are best), and work through the examples.
Keep doing that with a single type of problem until you understand what problems translate to that class and how to manipulate them into a solution. Program the problem in and manipulate the numbers with the computer until you get an intuitive feel for it.

Be fore-warned, though. There is a lot in algebra thats not explained well or in full until calculus and discrete mathmatics.
So you'll have to stick it through.
Good luck!

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You say your problem is "making own functions"... well, to create something technical, you need to understand it first. When I was in school, I used my graphical calculator to draw all kinds of functions, whatever popped up to my mind. Also, when thinking about three-dimensional maths, graphical interpretations are IMHO always better than just formulas on paper.

-- Mikko

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I think he said he didn't understand the concept of mathematics itself and why it "works." So to him, if he practiced how to solve a certain problem, it still wouldn't carry much meaning behind it because he doesn't have the intuition which knowing what mathematics is gives.

Mathematics is nothing more than applying logic to typically ideas or definitions that relate to number, pattern, etc. What happends is that a person will create a definition for something, say what a vector is, and then they will apply logic using that definition and previous definitions to find new facts. If the facts are important, they will be called a theorem. A theorem is nothing more than a fact that can be proved using logic based off of one or more definitions.

I really don't like how some groups of people perpetuate the idea that mathematics is something mystical, too complex, not understandable unless you are a genius, etc. It does only serves to boost those peoples' egos and philosophy.

To understand mathematics, you first need to understand basic logic. If a persons logic is faulty, then so will be their mathematics. Once you learn, or if already know, logic, you will find the statements in mathematics understandable.

Also know that the ideas that motivate various definitions and theorems did not come from a vacuum, but to serve some need at some time in history. Someone like you or me sat around and thought about something and noticed that it was interesting, which they then logically thought through to a conclusion. Thus they created a theorem, or, perhaps, created a new definition/idea which they then explored the consequences of.

Basic experience in the everyday world let to the idea of addition, subtraction of whole numbers. Then it took a mental leap to concieve of negative numbers because they don't exist in our world in terms of objects. It was a progression of such leaps that has led to the mathematics of the modern day.

Mathematicians use concepts from the everyday world and apply them to mathematics. The idea of a number being a point on a line, for instance. Are numbers really points on lines? Not to me, but that how they are concieved, which has led to further concepts being applied such as,
1) Motion along a path - limits, calculus
2) Construction of objects from parts - the rationals
3) Rods - applying numbers to line segments

It is very interesting when you think deeply about these things because you will find just how much they are based on experience in the everyday world mathematics and the concepts are. Even though some mathematicians think otherwise.

I suggest you read a book on the basic history of mathematics from its basic origins until modern times, but one that will explain the motivation and new ideas that people deduced and created. After all, if you don't have a meaning for that variable you solve for, what good is the symbol manipulation. It is only when we apply meaning to concepts, model them in mathematics, apply the typographical rules to solve for something, and then re-iterpret the result, is it useful.

All the best!

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I don't think blaming teachers for your lack of education is a valid excuse. Studies of students have found that they only take in about 5% of what they are taught in lectures, which means that 95% of your learning has to be done in your own time, whether it be through reading text books or revising from your notes from the lectures.

My advice is to start small and work your way up, the mathematics needed for a lot of gamedev can be pretty simple, but it can seem impossibly hard if you dont have a solid grounding in the basics of mathematics.

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