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What maths do I need to know to do Calculus


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Hello peoples,


I would like to start to screw around with physics. To do that, I am going to need Calculus. I have Khan Academy, so what should I learn on it to lead up to that. I am doing game design next quarter for school, and want to program my own physics engine.

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Well, Calculus was originally developed to (suprise suprise) calculate things of interest.


These days mathematicians tend to get hung up on the underlying principles, which I think are introduced a little early.


Much of everyday and applied calculus consists of standard results we look up rather than work out, especially not from first principles.


However you need a good working knowledge of whatever you are applying it to.

The goes for both the physics/chemistry/economics and the maths such as geometry or trigonometry.


I also recommend you brush up your algebra, considering your thread from just before Christmas.


You really do need to be able to understand the answer.


Then you can go a very long way with some suprisingly simple calculus.

Edited by studiot
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Yes, I think I should. Do you have a specific list of things I need to know? I was trying to read Endercreepers tutorial, and didn't really understand it, so I do kind of think I have a long way to go, but I could learn the basics in a month. I also have to do algebra 2. I more or less, when I do my work, learn the stuff that I need, and don't learn everything, so I have some holes in my knowledge. Like I have been doing Trig for the last three months, and I have been using a graphing calculator.


Thats why I posted that at Christmas. I have a program on my calculator that solves quadratics for me, but I wanted to relearn how to do it by hand.

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To learn calculus, you should have an understanding of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and precalculus. For derivatives, you mainly need to understand limits, functions, trigonometry, and slope. For integrals, you mainly need an understanding of geometry and everything required for derivatives. You also need an understanding of derivatives themselves for integration.

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Keep in mind you'll probably want to know the basics of linear algebra in addition to calculus. Some (most?) of the topics covered in introductory physics involve vector quantities, and some familiarity with manipulating vectors and matrices is handy. This will also be required for learning vector calculus down the line.

Of course, the resources I've seen for learning vector calculus and introductory physics briefly cover the linear algebra topics required anyway, so perhaps a dedicated course isn't essential (though it will be if you intend to seriously get into video game programming).

Khan Academy has video series covering elementary algebra, trigonometry and pre-calculus, and following those will probably be adequate preparation for learning calculus.

As for the tutorial currently being posted in the Mathematics forum:

1. It covers integral calculus in such a way that some familiarity with differential calculus is assumed. There is a tutorial on differential calculus here, and of course links to other calculus learning resources have been provided in the thread containing Endercreeper's tutorial.

2. While it is looking to be a handy reference, it is a work in progress and will probably be cleaned up and fleshed out a bit if it's to become a super official SFN tutorial. Especially given your lack of experience with calculus on top of this, don't fret too much over the fact that you're having trouble following it.

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I would say that to begin calculus you should be happy with real functions and their graphs and some basic algebra. To motivate calculus and explore some simple examples this is probably enough.

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