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Old 03-26-2009, 08:10 PM   #1
Xxo__oxX
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Question Physics essential?

Hi everyone! I'm currently majoring in mathematics and computer science (an interdisciplinary degree) at Temple University. I started here this spring, so I signed up for classes pretty much last out of the whole school. Thus, I could only take chemistry as my lab science (no physics). Now, I enjoy chemistry, but it's not as relevant to game programming as physics is. I'm taking the second chemistry course over the summer to fulfill my lab science requirement, but now I'm not going to be able to fit physics comfortably into my schedule during any semester.

Physics would be a two-semester lab science, and I'm not sure that the lab format is the most efficient way of learning the physics needed for programming anyway. If it is absolutely essential, then I could take both halves next summer (stay all summer), but I'm already staying this summer to take other classes, so it wouldn't be ideal. I think the summer would be better spent at an internship or working on a project of some sort. Would it be acceptable to take all the CS and high level math classes that I need and just learn the physics as I need it for game programming or in a more specialized grad class (assuming I go on to grad school, which I do plan on)?

Here's my prospective schedule until graduation. All the semesters are filled to the brim credit-wise. I just left out the university-wide general requirements, as they're not really relevant. Obviously, as I'm only a freshman, this will probably change, but I still need a certain number of CS and math electives, so I can't just replace any old two of these with physics. A lab science would probably sap an unfavorably large amount of time out of the two project-based courses in my last two semesters as well.

Spring 2009 (current)
Calculus I
Mathematical Concepts in Computing I (a discrete math class)
Chem I

Summer 2009
Chem II
Calculus II

Fall 2009
Computer Programming in C (really an introductory programming course)
Calculus III
Linear Algebra

Spring 2010 - 14-15 cr
Program Design and Abstraction
Introduction to Probability Theory

Fall 2010 - 15 cr
Data Structures
Mathematical Concepts in Computing II (more discrete math)
Theory of Numbers

Spring 2011
Computer Systems and Low-Level Programming
Data Structures and Algorithms
Combinatorics

Fall 2011
Discrete Structures
Introduction to Systems Programming and Operating Systems
Numerical Analysis I
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Spring 2012
Software Design Practicum (project)
Automata, Computability, and Languages
Numerical Analysis II
Computer Graphics and Image Processing

Fall 2012
Project in Computer Science (research-based project)
Compiler Design
Software Engineering
*and one yet-to-be determined CS or Math Elective)*

Basically, I'm asking if it's acceptable to not take a formal physics class if I'm looking to get into game programming. Keep in mind that I do plan on grad school, and I see that at least some places have "physics for programmers" and "physics for game design" classes. I also did take honors physics during my senior year of high school and understand a lot of the basic concepts. I'm not specifically looking to program the next widely-used physics engine either. I just want to know enough to be generally employable/competitive.

Thanks for reading all that... I look forward to your advice.
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Old 03-27-2009, 02:26 AM   #2
yaustar
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Knowing how to do some physics is useful but it is only really 'necessary' if you want to be a physics programmer. I say 'necessary' because you can still be a physics programmer without the formal teaching.
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Old 03-27-2009, 04:24 AM   #3
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Wouldnt in this case it be enough to fetch a book about Newtonian physics in general and another one focusing solely on programming implementation of such?

Stuff like "Physics for game programmers, Physics for game developers", and whatnot have steadily floated by in my everyday life.

Last edited by DTR : 03-30-2009 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Hell, was I drunk when I wrote this? Full of spelling errors OO
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:55 PM   #4
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Wow, this is very interesting. I was in the library today in the Physics section (I was looking for just an ordinary physics book) and I stumbled upon Physics for Game Developers myself. Anyhow, I'm going to go right into it.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:28 AM   #5
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Therer is quite a bit about mechanics (the relevent type of physics...I think) from "Mathematics for Programmers".
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:28 PM   #6
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Chemistry is somewhat nice because it uses math to solve problems, but physics would be better. Basically, you probably don't need to take a class in it since you took it in high school. A good tip is Amazon marketplace and Ebay for a book. Luckily, Physics hasn't changed that much in 5-10 years, so you can buy a physics textbook for $15, $10, or sometimes even $5.

What I found out about game physics is that it's a little different. Lots of programming languages do no understand calculus, but does understand basic algebra. I'm not in the industry (yet), but so far I have used the really simple stuff at the beginning of the chapter like a = dv/dt. Usually it was calculating movement in steps, not something like where a projectile is at 8 seconds from firing.

I might have to get my hands on one of those Mathematics/Physics books for programmers.
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Old 05-07-2009, 05:12 AM   #7
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Not necisarrily physics, but if you are doing collision detection there is no book better than Real Time Collision Detection by Christer Ericson.
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:11 AM   #8
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I'm not really a physics person (Well, I have an A Level in Mathematics) but I have always found Collision Detection to be an incredibly interesting problem. Is that bad?
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Old 05-08-2009, 05:12 AM   #9
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As other's have said, Physics is only really necessary if you want to be a specialized physics programmer, and even then games usually take a little artistic license with regards to in-game physics. A lot of the time the physics get altered (eg. a soldier carrying a pistol, a shot gun, a machine gun, some grenades, radio, nightvision goggles that is able to jump 6 ft into the air ) to make the game more fun.
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