For someone with some background in maths, what is a good book about:

  • The core mathematics for game development
  • How these techniques are applied to common problems in game development

In particular, I am going to finish my degree in Physics & Computer Science this summer, and afterwards will start an MSc. in Games Development. So I am looking for an informative read over the summer.

I know that there are a lot of books about this out there. However, I am particularly looking for a book that does not waste 300 pages on re-explaining what Trigonometry, Vectors or Matrices are...

Is there any book that is written for people like me with some background in maths? Something that explains the less-obvious techniques and how to apply them to solving problems in game development? Topics could include for example 3D Maths, Collision Detection / Physics, AI.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Physics. Trigonometry, vectors and matrices. Looks like you've already got the most common things handled. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2012 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, let me explain... Yes, I could probably work out many game development problems myself, somehow. However, I'd prefer spending a few hours reading about the smart ways that others have come up with already, hence avoiding the reinvention of the wheel. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Apr 27, 2012 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is your background in game development? Are you very new to it? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, I would suggest you to start deving, and when you face a problem, just search the web and you'll find a good solution in math for it. IMHO this is better, because you're already applying the theory, so it "fix" on your head much better. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Far better than reading a book over the summer would be to develop a game over the summer. You'll find out what you need to focus more on and you'll get some experience. Also, my opinion is the MS is a waste. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


Ok, one thing I learned about efficient learning is, don't just read. Program. The problems with "just reading" are twofold:

1) It's not very interesting, so progress can be slow

2) The knowledge evaporates quickly, unless you do activities which make it stick

So get a good book as a reference, so you have something to refer to, but above all start building a game that will use basic physics. Read when you encounter a problem you cannot solve on your own. The book's material will be that much more interesting to you then.

Some great books I used when I was starting (even though I knew vector math etc) were:

1) 3d math primer

2) Cg tutorial - now available online for free. I wouldn't recommend using Cg as a shading language at all these days, but the first few chapters are excellent, and the basic ideas of Cg (uniform parameters etc) have their analogs in other shading languages

3) Shirley's fundamentals of computer graphics - contains concepts such as barycentric coordinates projection and rasterization

4) Real-time collision detection for collision detection

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben You'd probably want the more up-to-date 3d math primer: amazon.com/Math-Primer-Graphics-Development-Edition/dp/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2012 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, nice, thx so much for the nvidia link. I have heard of the 3D Math Primer, however, I really don't think I can make any use of the first 200 or so pages. Might just get it anyway, not sure. @michael.bartnett Yeah, I noticed, all his links point to the kindle editions for some reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Apr 28, 2012 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Spot on. If you can program something, then you understand it, in depth, piece by piece. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2012 at 5:39

Commenters have given many helpful tips, but so far no one has actually answered my question (apart from one person saying there is no such book).

Well, I think Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics seems to be about what I had in mind when I wrote my original question. It seems to have good reviews, so that might well be it. It even has a short chapter about fluids (just saying...)

Any feedback on this book?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I really like Eric Lengyel's book. Its first edition was a very useful textbook for me when I was a student, and I keep it next to my desk at work to this very day. I've referred to it so often that the binding is starting to wear out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Crashworks
    May 2, 2012 at 23:43

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