When I think about mathematics in game making, the first thing that comes to mind is trigonometric functions. I use them a lot for motion, distance calculation and wave-like effects. However, I only need the basics - I have for example never needed to know that sin(A + B) = sin(A) cos(B) + cos(A) sin(B). I can't even remember any time I needed to use tan(x)...
Another thing I've used occasionally is probability, but always on just a very basic level.
Most of the time, it seems as the things you really need, are algorithms that don't require a sophisticated understanding of mathematics, but rather just thinking the right way. Now, I know that mathematics is really broad, but for the sake of this discussion, let's think of maths as separated from algorithmic thinking. For example, you normally don't need maths to implement a fairly sophisticated sorting algorithm, but having an efficient algorithm isn't even that important all the time, since you very rarely need to sort thousands of items in a game.
Another example is pathfinding and graph theory. This is another example that often comes to mind when I hear mathematics in game making, but when I think about it, it only requires very basic knowledge of graph theory. If you know how the A* algorithm works, then that's all you need - and maybe even the simplified Dijkstra's algorithm is sufficient for most purposes.
It seems as although having a very good understanding of basic mathematics is often very helpful, you don't need advanced maths very often. Not to say that being good at maths is wasted - I'm sure at some point we will all encounter a problem that requires some special maths, but these don't happen often.
So what do you think; to what degree is advanced mathematics needed to make games?
Edited by Marius, 12 July 2011 - 05:52 AM.