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Do I need another algebra book?

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Hi folks! I've just finished reading through Practical Algebra (a self-teaching guide), which was absolutely fantastic. I feel like I've got a really strong grasp on everything that the book aims to teach. My question is though, should I buy a second algebra book to go with this one? Currently, my plan to get to grips with the maths side of things, was to read some books in the following order: Practical Algebra (a self-teaching guide) -- Done Help Yourself to Advanced Algebra (basically another book of problems really) Geometry and Trigonometry for Calculus (a self-teaching guide) 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development The thing is, being as I need good working knowledge of algebra in order to learn the other topics properly, obviously it means it's an important topic to make sure I understand. To give you an idea of the content of Practical Algebra, here's a rough breakdown: Chapter 1 - Basic Concepts Chapter 2 - The Number System Chapter 3 - Monomials and Polynomials Chapter 4 - Special Products and Factoring Chapter 5 - Fractions Chapter 6 - Exponents, Roots and Radicals Chapter 7 - Linear and Fractional Equations and Formulas Chapter 8 - Functions and Graphs Chapter 9 - Quadratic Equations Chapter 10 - Inequalities Chapter 11 - Ratio, Proportion and Variation Chapter 12 - Solving Everyday Problems Do you think it's worth getting another algebra book or am I being over-cautious? Cheers.

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Yeah, see that's why I like Practical Algebra, because it really is completely practical. Every single topic had lots of problems to go with it. Also, the other algebra book I mentioned is exactly the same.

The biggest reason I'm asking is that I keep hearing of Algebra I and II and I have no idea what that is. Is it just how algebra is divided up for students in America, or have I missed the boat there?

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If your book covered those topics in detail and you're good at manipulating equations, you can definitely jump ahead to trigonometry, which is definitely integral for 3D graphics. Like was said, the more practice the better, and in your future mathematics courses and career, honestly you will probably use algebra more than anything else since you will always deal with equations. I'm not sure the precise topics of Algebra I and II in America, but I believe it boils down to Algebra and Advanced Algebra.

It's awesome that you're so motivated to learn all of this!

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Thank you very much for the reply. I think going through the Help Yourself to Advanced Algebra book, should be what I need then.

I just wanted to re-affirm the direction I was going in. Thanks for the help. [smile]

Edit:

Quote:
Original post by mnansgar
It's awesome that you're so motivated to learn all of this!


Yeah, it's pretty cool actually. Amazing the motivational bonus you can grab just from changing your diet (I'm being serious, too).

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Quote:
Original post by John H

Yeah, it's pretty cool actually. Amazing the motivational bonus you can grab just from changing your diet (I'm being serious, too).


You changed your diet and gained more motivation? What's your diet now? :)

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Basically, I used to eat quite a lot of junk (chocolate and crisps mainly). I never ate vegetables except potatoes and I didn't eat any fruit. I've never been overweight, but up until recently, I've never eaten very well either. All I do now, is eat 5 different types of fruit every single day, I have 3 different types of vegetable with my dinner as well and I've taken up karate again.

Doesn't sound that radical but it's made a hell of a lot of difference, not just mentally, but physically too. I never thought it would make as much of a difference as it has, but everything from my skin complexion to stress management has improved. [smile]

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Well,
I just got out of my Algebra class this year at school and the cool thing about the class was that my teacher had a degree in Computer Science! He taught Computer Science also, but I couldn't be in it as you must be a Sophmore and I was only a freshman. But he knew I am interested in programing and Video Game programing so he would teach extra hard on stuff that I would need on Algebra for Game Development. I am about to pop him an E-mail right now and ask him the stuff I would need to know as I want to make sure.

Also,
Thanks for the list of books as I am thinking about getting one.

A quick question though:

Does your match skills come in handy on the Graphics programing side or just regualr programing? Just wondering cause I am getting closer to jump to aGraphics API so I wasn't sure if I would need a book or not.


Chad


Also,
I saw some talk about Algebra 2 and stuff. How it goes here is:
Freshman(9th grade):Algebra(unless you had it in 8th grade then it is Geometry)
Sophmore(10th Grade):Geometry(unless you had that last year. Then Pre Cal I think. Could be Algebra 2 though. I think pre cal though)
Junior(11th grade):Algebra 2(Yes,I am pretty sure it goes pre-cal then Algebra 2)
Senior(12th grade):Calculas and Triganometry(I am pretty sure both classes are in one)

So to answear the question, I think it is Advanced Algebra. Not sure. Maybe someone who has had it before can answear that.

Chad

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Sounds like you are on the right track.

Any Algebra Text book would probably be good for you, just work through lots and lots of problems, especially word problems.

If you go to a used book store to get some text books, be armed with some knowledge.

Look the books up on the internet and look for thier errata sheets and logs.

Nothing is more frustration than a Math book with tons of errors in it.

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I think the track you have choosen is good. First have a solid understanding of algebra and then jump to trig.

I'd suggest trying to get the most basic Trig book, one that doesn't have to do much with other math fields such Geometery or Calculus.

Trig is the marriage of Geometery and Algebra, but you don't really need to know the Geometery part. Its just redundant. It wouldn't hurt but its not needed.

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You might want to spend some extra time on trig. It is very very simple, most things will just fall into place. Trig is easy to understand, maybe one of the easier math subjects to understand, but it is pretty tough to KNOW.

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Cheers for the explanation on Algebra I and II, Chad. For your convenience, here's the links to all of the books I've mentioned:

Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd Edition
Help Yourself to Advanced Algebra
Geometry and Trigonometry for Calculus (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)
3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development

Quote:
Original post by Chad Smith
Does your match skills come in handy on the Graphics programing side or just regualr programing? Just wondering cause I am getting closer to jump to aGraphics API so I wasn't sure if I would need a book or not.


You'll need lots of maths for graphics programming. To quote a few people on GameDev to say it, "The more math the better". For what it's worth, I wrote a few games (Pong, BreakOut and one other... can't remember) in Allegro. Whilst I got it all working, it was made much more difficult by the fact that I hadn't used any maths from school for around 9 years. I got a lot of things working, but it was more down to trial and error as opposed to understanding why something worked, which is what spurred me on to improve the maths side of my knowledge. It'll definitely pay off though. [wink]

Thanks again for the response.

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Thanks for the reply, HAM.

Funnily enough, I've actually been toying with the idea of a little algebraic problem "generator". Being as I've had chronic tendinitis for the past 5 months, and couldn't code running up to that either, it's been a long time since I really got stuck in. I think it'd be a more complicated beast than it looks at first but it'd be nice to get something like that working so I can give my coding skills a workout and give myself a place to test my own algebra skills. [smile]

Oh and believe me, I can totally relate to the comment about errors. I've had a few books here that, quite frankly, I wouldn't take a dump on. [wink]

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Hi John,

It's great to see someone who is motivated to teach themselves maths! I'm not sure if I can recommend any books for you, but I'd just like to advise you that it's good to get as much practice as you can, not just from textbook questions but from real practical applications. Programming itself is a good place to try out maths ideas; I found that when I was at school I already knew all the basics of algebra just from all my programming experience with variables as a kid. Try writing little programs that use each new piece of maths that you learn, or think about how they can apply to real life.

It looks like you are aiming to be a 3D graphics programming, and for that you'll really need to be comfortable with linear algebra (in particular matrices), geometry and probably calculus as well (definitely calculus if you are planning on doing any physics). This is usually first year uni. level maths, but a dedicated learner could probably master this on their own, particuarly if you are trying things out with programming as you go. Just make sure that you understand every area before you move on.

I'm not sure if there are any gaps in your maths books since I haven't studied them closely, but if you find you get stuck you can always ask questions to someone who understands the material, or ask questions on these forums and you'll can get help. Heck, at one point in my life I studied to be a maths teacher so I'll probably be able to offer some advice on a specific topic if you need help.

Good luck with your learning, and never be afraid to ask questions!

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Quote:
Original post by John H
Cheers for the explanation on Algebra I and II, Chad. For your convenience, here's the links to all of the books I've mentioned:

Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd Edition
Help Yourself to Advanced Algebra
Geometry and Trigonometry for Calculus (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)
3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development

Quote:
Original post by Chad Smith
Does your match skills come in handy on the Graphics programing side or just regualr programing? Just wondering cause I am getting closer to jump to aGraphics API so I wasn't sure if I would need a book or not.


You'll need lots of maths for graphics programming. To quote a few people on GameDev to say it, "The more math the better". For what it's worth, I wrote a few games (Pong, BreakOut and one other... can't remember) in Allegro. Whilst I got it all working, it was made much more difficult by the fact that I hadn't used any maths from school for around 9 years. I got a lot of things working, but it was more down to trial and error as opposed to understanding why something worked, which is what spurred me on to improve the maths side of my knowledge. It'll definitely pay off though. [wink]

Thanks again for the response.


Firstoff, you are welcome for explaining that.

Also,
Thank YOu VERY much for the links to the books. I will deffintly be looking into buying one of those or all of them! They all seem to have good reviews and be rated good. Thanks again man!

Also,
Thanks for telling me where the math skills come in handy.

Chad

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@Trapper Zoid: Cheers for the compliments and advice mate. I whole-heartedly agree about practicing as much as I can. I've thought of a few applications of what I've learnt already so that's been very helpful, and like I mentioned in one reply here, I'd be very interested in writing my own algebraic expression generator, which would also provide working solutions to problems. From the surface it looks quite simple, but from having a quick think about it, I'd imagine there would be several problems that would need some extra attention being paid to them.

Funnily enough though, I'm not sure I'm aiming to be a 3D programmer as such. Don't get me wrong, writing the Pong/BreakOut clones that I did was absolutely awesome, but because I didn't understand the maths behind me, I constantly had that question of "Why does that work?" running around my mind.

I'm a naturally inquisitive person so it seemed like the next logical step to me to make sure I understood what I was doing. I'll actually be re-writing the games that I did once I've finished the books listed above. It'd be nice to see just how much of a difference it made to my overall understanding of everything involved. I'm sure it'll be very beneficial.

One thing I will say, though, is that I'm not sure about the gaps in my knowledge either, which was probably the biggest reason for starting this thread. I feel as though I've got a really good grasp on what was taught in the book. The only thing I found a tad confusing was the way the book described factors and coefficients; the definitions seemed interchangeable. Other than that, I feel pretty good about it.

Thanks for the offer of advice, too. I promise I'll try not to give you sleepless nights with reems of endless questions. [wink]

@Chad: No problem mate. Just returning the favour being as you helped me as well. [smile]

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Oh, in case you haven't heard about this before; there's a great on-line mathematical encyclopaedia called MathWorld; it's got definitions for practically everything in mathematics there. Note it's written more for mathematicians than for students, so the definitions can get a bit technical, but it's a great resource for checking up a term that you are not sure around. I use it all the time.

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Yeah I've heard of MathWorld. I'm not comfortable enough with it just yet, unfortunately. However, I did stumble on this today. If you go up a directory, it's got information relating to Physics, AI, Genetic Algorithms and a host of other stuff. [smile]

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Quote:
Original post by John H
The biggest reason I'm asking is that I keep hearing of Algebra I and II and I have no idea what that is. Is it just how algebra is divided up for students in America, or have I missed the boat there?

Yes, Algebra I and II is just a way of dividing up various algebra topics into managable chunks. However, from the contents you listed, what you have learned is the equivalent of algebra I. Algebra II/advanced algebra typically consists of:
- A review of algebra I, since it's various topics are required to understand all of the new topics in algebra II.
- Solving more complex systems of equations.
- Functions (the math kind).
- Conic sections. You've seen parabolas, here you learn about circles, hyperbolas, elipses, etc.
- Lots more about working with things involving exponents, including roots and logarithms.
- Primers on various areas of more specialized math, including trigonometry, probability, serrieses and sums, and maybe matricies and limits (though probably not).
- Probably some other stuff I forgot about (it's been a few years since I took Algebra II at my high school.)

Geting through Practical Algebra was a great start, but you will be missing out on a lot if you skip algebra II/advanced algebra. Good luck!

Edit:
Quote:
The only thing I found a tad confusing was the way the book described factors and coefficients; the definitions seemed interchangeable. Other than that, I feel pretty good about it.

Coefficients are usually very simple factors that consist of a single number or variable tacked on to another expression. Factors are any old factor, and may themselves be extremely complex expressions -- or they may be single numbers or variables. The difference is subtle and not particularly important, which is probably why you were a bit confused. Don't worry about it; after you have been reading math stuff for a while it will start making sense.

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Thanks for that, mumpo, that was very helpful. [smile]

It seems then, that I may need another book. I quickly had a look at the table of contents for Helping Yourself to Advanced Algebra and Geometry and Trigonometry for Calculus, and some of the topics you mention are covered. However, it seems an Algebra II book could well prove useful, so I'll have a look around.

Thanks for that reply and my apologies for not replying sooner.

Cheers. [smile]

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