Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

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Poll: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer? (1 member(s) have cast votes)

Trigonometry or College Algebra

  1. Trigonometry (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. College Algebra (1 votes [100.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

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#1 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:45 PM

To keep this short, what class would be more helpful for developing things like Android and iPhone games: Trigonometry or College Algebra? The highest level classes I've taken in the past was Geometry and Algebra2 in high school and Finite Math in college.

I was assuming Trig, but figured I'd ask.

"Both" is out of the question for reasons that would take too long to explain.
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#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:48 PM

Trig is going to be more helpful. If college algebra is more on par with Abstract Algebra, that's going to be a class you might enjoy more. Abstract Algebra has a discrete feel. College algebra could also be a percalc class. Generally precalc and trig are taught together though. If college algebra is precalc, then I'd say either would be equally helpful.

Edit: To add though, Trig has very little depth, so you could easily self-study. College Algebra might round you out more.
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#3 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:58 PM

The description for College Algebra at my college is:

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This course covers advanced algebra topics, including linear, quadratic, polynomial, exponential and logarithmic functions; graphs of functions; inverse functions; systems of equations and inequalities; the Binomial Theorem; and conics. A graphing utility is required for this course. Students preparing for CALCULUS should take PRECALCULUS instead.


The description for Trig is:

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The topics covered in this course include right triangle trigonometry, circular functions, inverse functions, identities and formulas, graphing, trigonometric equations, the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines, and complex numbers and polar coordinates.


So I assume Trig then?

edit: I'm too unmotivated for self-study. I need an obligation (going to class) to get anything done.

This post has been edited by Yatta!: 09 June 2013 - 09:59 PM

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#4 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:01 PM

You'll probably get equal benefit from both. It really depends on what your current understanding of trig is and how much self-studying you want to do. Again, Trig has very little depth to it and most people find it easy. You might consider looking at the Precalc class, as it might fit both of these classes into one semester.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:04 PM

View PostYatta!, on 09 June 2013 - 11:45 PM, said:

"Both" is out of the question for reasons that would take too long to explain.


Nevertheless, it's the best answer. Or rather, "both and more, or either, or neither, depending on what you want to do".
If you have neither, I suppose mac's right and trig is the more important one, but I don't see a case where either of them alone buys you a lot. What do you want math for? As a programmer, you might want to be able to do certain calculations for modeling- for example, locations on a screen, distances and veocities of objects in the world you're building, that sort of thing. That requires trig, but if you're going to be making use of that information you're probably going to want a lot more math on top of it. I can't imagine you being in a situation where trig is useful and a lack of calculus is not crippling. Or, if you want to get into depth on the algorithms you use, you're going to be using whole different branches of math - discrete math will be the name of the course you'll take for that. This is the "both, and more" case.

Or, you might want to be able to think mathematically about the world. In that case, either will be useful, and they will help you to think in more useful ways about the world. This is the "either" case - it doesn't advance you professionally, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

Or, if you just want to write programs and make use of libraries, and you don't really care to think mathematically about what you're doing, you can skip most of the math - people have written the libraries that figure out what you need, and you don't have to think about it. This is the "neither" case. For me, it's the wrong answer, but it seems to work for a lot of people, many of whom get paid more than I do, so what the hell do I know?
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:06 PM

If you want to understand the math and physics in game programming, trig is great. I've found that having differential equations under my belt has helped me a ton more on the physics end though.
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#7 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:21 PM

I said the reason why "both" was out of the question would take too long to explain, but that was a lie. It just looks bad. But I'll just say it.

I've been sitting 2.5 units away from completing my 2 year degree for the last 3 or 4 years. To put that into perspective a bit, Trig is worth 3 units and College Algebra is worth 4. I've been getting pestered (and rightfully so) to get my last class over with these last few years. I think I've finally worked the motivation up, so I wanted to take one math course. Don't get me wrong, I actually like math (not enough to sit still during self-study), but I DESPISE school. I'm the ultra anti-social type, so everything about school feels like it works against me. So I just want to take the one class, get the eff out of Dodge, and move on with life.

From the looks of what people are posting, Trig is probably what I'm going to go for.

This post has been edited by Yatta!: 09 June 2013 - 10:24 PM

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#8 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:29 PM

Flip a fucking a coin.

Really...

if you're taking these remedial level math courses in college just to get a degree... flip a coin.

Trig or Algebra?

In the grand scheme of things they don't mean shit to you. Personally i'd say both and a shit ton more, but you obviously want nothing to do with a any mathematical education, so who cares. Flip the coin.
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#9 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:29 PM

Quote

Don't get me wrong, I actually like math (not enough to sit still during self-study),

I don't mean self-study in the formal coursework sense. But if you're developing a game and say "hey, I need to know how to deal with vector equations," then you can look up enough trig to get by and that's about the same amount of trig you'd get in class.

With subjects like Calculus, you may not develop the same intuition as well as in a more formal classroom setting.
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#10 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:44 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 09 June 2013 - 11:29 PM, said:

Flip a fucking a coin.

Really...

if you're taking these remedial level math courses in college just to get a degree... flip a coin.

Trig or Algebra?

In the grand scheme of things they don't mean shit to you. Personally i'd say both and a shit ton more, but you obviously want nothing to do with a any mathematical education, so who cares. Flip the coin.


I'm sensing some attitude here that I really don't appreciate. But let me explain something to you. I can take ALMOST ANY DAMN COURSE I WANT that is worth at least 2.5 units if I just wanted to get a degree. The fact of the matter is, if I'm going to go take only one class, I want it to be in math because that is what is most relevant to my interests; so yes, I do want something to do with mathematical education, I just don't want a lot to do with it. Is that a crime these days?

If I'm going to be paying money to take one of these math courses, I want the most bang for my buck in regards to what I want the knowledge for. Is that really too much to ask?


I probably overreacted here. When I feel aggression from someone, even aggression that might have not been there, I tend to get aggressive back in kind. I think my anti-social is showing.

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 09 June 2013 - 11:29 PM, said:

I don't mean self-study in the formal coursework sense. But if you're developing a game and say "hey, I need to know how to deal with vector equations," then you can look up enough trig to get by and that's about the same amount of trig you'd get in class.

With subjects like Calculus, you may not develop the same intuition as well as in a more formal classroom setting.


Ah, I see. I guess I'll take some more time to consider which I'll take, then.

This post has been edited by Yatta!: 09 June 2013 - 11:07 PM

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#11 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 10 June 2013 - 06:50 AM

And I was saying, bang for your buck, you're comparing two low level math classes.

EVERYONE should take Algebra and Trig.

I'm blown away that both aren't required courses for your degree. The school I went to required them for 90% of the degrees... the only ones not requiring it were some odd arts degrees.

If in the end you really want to make a measured comparison for 'bang for buck'. Take the College Algebra. Algebra is just something everyone should have a firm grasp on. As was stated earlier, Trig is rather shallow. A lot of places combine trig with other stuff because it's so shallow. i.e. Precalculus & Trig, if this class is available, take it... though Algebra probably is a pre-req. This is what I'm wondering... what math have you taken? Did you skip over continuous all together and focus on discrete and statistics?
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#12 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 10 June 2013 - 06:54 AM

I was wondering that myself, how the OP skipped over so much math. To a large extent, one can do Discrete Math without trig and precalc. There are places where it's really important though, such as solving recurrences, discrete probability, and series and sequences.

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The highest level classes I've taken in the past was Geometry and Algebra2 in high school and Finite Math in college.



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I think my anti-social is showing.

Not to be rude, but in all seriousness, you might consider some sort of counseling. We all have to work with people at some point beyond the internet. It doesn't pay to be miserable about it.
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#13 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:21 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 10 June 2013 - 07:50 AM, said:

I'm blown away that both aren't required courses for your degree. The school I went to required them for 90% of the degrees... the only ones not requiring it were some odd arts degrees.

If in the end you really want to make a measured comparison for 'bang for buck'. Take the College Algebra. Algebra is just something everyone should have a firm grasp on. As was stated earlier, Trig is rather shallow. A lot of places combine trig with other stuff because it's so shallow. i.e. Precalculus & Trig, if this class is available, take it... though Algebra probably is a pre-req. This is what I'm wondering... what math have you taken? Did you skip over continuous all together and focus on discrete and statistics?


The way I understood it, to get a two year degree, I needed to pick between one of three math courses: Trig, College Algebra, or Finite. I took Finite, which is the highest level math course I've taken (though it was easier than Algebra2 imo...). They pretty much handed me a piece of paper with multiple sections, each section with multiple courses. Within each section, it said "take X amount of units using the courses listed here". I did all that but I haven't taken 60 units total, yet.

As for Precalc & Trig, my school only offers them separately, and to take Precalc, I have to take Trig first. Maybe they dig a little deeper with Precalc at my school or something, though. It's worth a whole 5 units.

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 10 June 2013 - 07:54 AM, said:

Not to be rude, but in all seriousness, you might consider some sort of counseling. We all have to work with people at some point beyond the internet. It doesn't pay to be miserable about it.


Done that. Went to a Psychologist twice and a Psychiatrist twice. More nerve wracking than my first job. Wasn't worth it in my book.

P.S. Does this website hate my ISP or something? Takes like 10 tries just to get into a thread because I fail to connect.

This post has been edited by Yatta!: 10 June 2013 - 04:37 PM

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#14 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:36 PM

View PostYatta!, on 10 June 2013 - 06:21 PM, said:

P.S. Does this website hate my ISP or something? Takes like 10 tries just to get into a thread because I fail to connect.




This website hates everybody's ISP. If you get a good connection take a look at the threads in the Site Support forum... it'll make you cry.


For the math, I'd suggest you take what you need for your degree, and then pursue the rest on your own. Calculus, obviously, is important for a lot of disciplines, so you'll want to work your way up to that, but you might want to think about some of the more abstract areas as well. Number theory and set theory, boolean algebra, are all good fun, and Dover has good and cheap books that you can puzzle over. The Euler Project will give you a lot of practical exposure to some pure math. And you can probably find a course in Discrete Math on Coursera if you're into that.

If you don't want to pay a school, and you don't like being in classes, just find another way to do it, is my advice.
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#15 Yatta!  Icon User is offline

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Re: Would Trig or College Algebra be more helpful for a programmer?

Posted 10 June 2013 - 05:02 PM

Well, since Trig is a prerequisite of PreCal, which is a prerequisite of Calc, I guess I'll take (or say fuck it and just learn it on my own) Trig. I've actually done 13 of the Euler problems (1-12 & 14), but I brute forced almost all of them, so I feel like I kind of cheated :|
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