I want to study computer graphics but I don't have a strong foundation in mathematics. I am doing a computer science degree that doesn't cover computer vision, image processing or computer graphics, linear algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus etc. It does cover discrete math and other math relating to computer science. I don't meet the requirements for a mathematics degree so I can't pursue a minor in that. I want to know if I can teach myself the math necessary for CG or Would discrete math be adequate enough? Any advice would be nice.

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    $\begingroup$ Discrete math is not enough. I also have no idea what kind of CS degree has no linear algebra nor calculus. $\endgroup$
    – lightxbulb
    Aug 29, 2019 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


First, graphics is full of linear algebra, so you'll need that whatever you do. If you want to do any research into shaders, or to write a ray-tracer, you'll also need to understand integration and probably some statistics (to understand Monte Carlo integration).

I want to know if I can teach myself the math necessary for CG

We can't answer that question for you: only you know how good you are at teaching yourself. If you "don't have a strong foundation in mathematics" because you struggled with it at school, you'll probably struggle to learn harder maths with less help than you had before. If it's not like that, and you're generally good at self-study, then now's the time. You'll never have more access to the means of learning than when you're at university. Hang out with your local maths students and pay attention when they talk about work. Find out when they have lectures relevant to you that don't clash with your own lectures, and go to as many as you can. Find out what books they use for their course, and read the same books.

It'll also help to approach any graphics projects you start with the mindset that when you encounter some maths you don't understand, you might need to put the project to one side while you learn what you need to know. You'll probably do this a lot as soon as you get past the "draw the first triangle on the screen" stage.

A counterpoint to this is that there are a lot of tools today that allow designers and artists to make really impressive graphics content without much maths knowledge, such as Unity and Processing. Maybe you can achieve what you want without studying computer graphics as an academic field at all! Try making a Unity game, play around with shaders a bit, and see if it tickles you.


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