Essential Mathematics for Games and Interactive Applications: A Programmer's Guide Hardcover – Mar 25 2004
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"Not only is it an excellent introduction for someone who needs to come up-to-speed on the math behind games and graphics, it's a well-organized reference for anyone in the field. Short version: If you program graphics, let alone games, you need this book. Shelve it near your desk, next to your Foley and your Knuth. Highly Recommended." -Rick Wayne from a review in Software Development Magazine
"This excellent volume is unique in that it covers not only the basic techniques of computer graphics and game development, but also provides a thorough and rigorous--yet very readable--treatment of the underlying mathematics. Fledgling graphics and games developers will find it a valuable introduction; experienced developers will find it an invaluable reference. Everything is here, from the detailed numeric issues of IEEE floating point notation, to the correct way to use quaternions and spherical linear interpolation to represent orientation, to the mathematics of collision detection and rigid-body dynamics." -David Luebke, University of Virginia, co-author of Level of Detail for 3D Graphics
"When it comes to software development for games or virtual reality, you cannot escape the mathematics. The best performance comes not from superfast processors and terabytes of memory, but from well-chosen algorithms. With this in mind, the techniques most useful for developing production-quality computer graphics for Hollywood blockbusters are not the best choice for interactive applications. When rendering times are measured in milliseconds rather than hours, you need an entirely different perspective. Essential Mathematics for Games and Interactive Applications provides this perspective. While the mathematics are rigorous and perhaps challenging at times, Van Verth and Bishop provide the context for understanding the algorithms and data structures needed to bring games and VR applications to life. This may not be the only book you will ever need for games and VR software development, but it will certainly provide an excellent framework for developing robust and fast applications." -Ian Ashdown, President, ByHeart Consultants Limited
"With Essential Mathematics for Games and Interactive Applications, Van Verth and Bishop have provided invaluable assistance for professional game developers looking to shore up weaknesses in their mathematical training. Even if you never intend to write a renderer or tune a physics engine, this book provides the mathematical and conceptual grounding needed to understand many of the key concepts in rendering, simulation, and animation." -Dave Weinstein, Red Storm Entertainment
"Geometry, trigonometry, linear algebra, and calculus are all essential tools for 3D graphics. Mathematics courses in these subjects cover too much ground, while at the same time glossing over the bread-and-butter essentials for 3D graphics programmers. In Essential Mathematics for Games and Interactive Applications, Van Verth and Bishop bring just the right level of mathematics out of the trenches of professional game development. This book provides an accessible and solid mathematical foundation for interactive graphics programmers. If you are working in the area of 3D games, this book is a 'must have.'" -Jonathan Cohen, Department of Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University, co-author of Level of Detail for 3D Graphics
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I've had a much better experience reading free online explanations on the concepts presented in the book that were both easier to digest and gave a much more lasting, intuitive understanding. I bought this book after glancing through an interesting presentation one of the authors gave at GDC, hoping that the book would follow suit and make the effort to arrange and present the material in the same accessible form, but it seems to me that there was no effort made here to make the frog easier to swallow.
To illustrate, here's the book's explanation for Basis Vectors: "So suppose that for a given vector space V, we can find a set beta of n linearly independent vectors in V that span V". Google search "basis vectors explained", click the first result, and you'll get a far superior explanation. I acknowledge the effort to transmit formal definitions in formal notation, but I honestly did not buy the book for that. I just want to understand, and that's something the book completely fails to deliver.
Graphics programming is a field littered with bad books, and this is no exception.
Essential Mathematics stands out as one of the best books in the pack, especially in regards to its coverage of the math behind low-level rendering techniques.
The book is broken into 4 parts. The first part, Core Mathematics, covers vectors and matrices, transformations, and number representation. This part will be useful to anyone doing 3D graphics.
Part II, Rendering, covers topics such as lighting and shading, texturing, projection, and rasterization. This part was of particular interest to me because I've been working on a commercial renderer, but it should also be useful to those who want a better understanding of what graphics engines do under the hood.
Part III, Animation, covers curves (very in depth) and representation of orientations (Euler vs. axis-angle vs. quaternions). Finally, Part IV, Simulation, covers intersection testing and rigid body dynamics. There are also a couple of appendices to help you brush up on trig and calculus, if needed.
The book includes many C++ code samples and demos, including a handy math library and a simple rendering/game engine using OpenGL and GLUT. The authors are to be commended for their writing style as well. It's very easy for a book of this nature to get bogged down in an extremely heavy academic tone, but this book manages to avoid that, making for a remarkably easy read.
I'm glad I don't have to choose just one game math book, but if I did, this would probably be the one I'd pick.
If the reader wanted to develop a 3D application on a platform with no native support or SDK, there's enough material in this book to give the reader a core background to develop a software solution. Even though portions of the graphics pipeline are automatically handled by an SDK or hardware, the concepts are presented so the reader is taken every step of the way.
The reader should know algebra (of course), trigonometry, and calculus if they want to get something out of it. A history of linear algebra also helps, but it isn't necessary since the chapter on matrices that goes over the essential operations. The later chapters on collision detection and physics start getting more math-heavy. Having previously read a couple other books in the Morgan Kaufmann series: Real Time Collision Detection and Game Physics, I was expecting the discussions to be very similar; however, the reader would only get a basic understanding of the topics and would greatly benefit from continuing their reading into the aforementioned books.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and it gets my approval for anyone wanting to get into game programming and 3D simulation. The author also provides many resources and accompanies the book with a CD of precompiled visual examples that should better solidify the user's understanding. As previously mentioned, Real Time Collision Detection and Game Physics make fantastic supplements to this book.
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