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Mathematical ability/knowledge and Max

Sep 24 2012 | 2:20 pm

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and would be interested in hearing others’ opinions on the subject. How important do people think mathematical ability is for working in Max? Beyond add/subtract/multiply/divide, my math skills pretty much don’t exist, so I avoid objects like expr and % entirely because I don’t understand what they do, and I’m starting to think it’s stopping me making better/more efficient patches.

What does everyone else think? Is it important to understand objects like expr etc?

Sep 24 2012 | 3:21 pm

> so I avoid objects like expr and % entirely because I don’t understand what they do, and I’m starting to think it’s stopping me making better/more efficient patches.

Yes it does.

My math isn’t great either, even though I took math in high-school, but I’ve found digging into math issues in Max development context a great way to refresh or expand my skills. Especially in my late high school years I lost attention for it but I’ve now been encountering lots of the stuff I skipped on back then and find them easy to pick up just because now they’re linked to practical issues, which I was totally missing in theory classes. The internet is full of resources to dig into. I usually need that math in openGL context.

Sep 24 2012 | 4:31 pm

you dont NNED it, but maybe some day you suddenly fee it could be cool.

have you, for example, looked at the helpfile for % ?
it is pretty easy to understand what it does, and one does not need to know the way it is tought in
school or university.
i find it far more difficult to use +,-,+,/ to calculate the modulo or the div than using the % object!

expressions also also very useful. try start using it for +-*/ at first. it makes patches smaller
and eventually more CPU friendly.

can you say [expr $f1+$f2-$f3] ?


Sep 25 2012 | 7:47 am

you can get very far if just know how proportional things are calculated. you can break every complex algorithm down into simple calculations. i would say.O.

Sep 25 2012 | 9:24 am

I am very much in the same position and have found that, over the last 5 or 6 years of Maxing, that my maths knowledge has increased, just by using objects such as [expr], [curve~], [sin~] etc. Patching logic is a great teacher too, as is this forum. So, maths skills are not the sine qua non of patching – they certainly help though, and I do envy those patchers/contributors with a clearer grasp of geometry and algebra.

Like a visitor to a foreign country, you can learn the language first, or (as I do) struggle initially and then learn more the longer you stay!


Sep 25 2012 | 3:01 pm

See also:

And as always, see Peter Elsea’s invaluable Max Tutorials, where you’ll find a cheerful little piece called "Befriending Math" – the last page is particularly useful.

I keep going back to my school books trying to pick up where I left off 30-something years ago, in the hope that I’ll one day be able to get more out of books like Dave Benson’s ‘Music – A Mathematical Offering’

Pay more attention at school, kids – one day your brain will be mush and it will interfere with your Maxing…

Sep 25 2012 | 3:28 pm

I’ve found math programs invaluable while learning programming. Excellent video tutorials with great instructors. Go the extra mile and work through the problems on your own with a pen & pad to get the most out of each video.

Sep 26 2012 | 8:33 am

@Roman – I have looked at the help file, but I still don’t really understand it. I find that a lot of objects in Max 6 (math objects mostly) assume knowledge of equations, functions etc. I appreciate they can’t spell it all out (because where would it end, right?) but that’s partly why I avoid those objects.

Looks like a read of that Befriending Math paper is a good idea. The math anxiety scenario seems applicable to my past experience!

Sep 26 2012 | 1:23 pm

% is 3rd grade arithmetic. "If Johnny has 7 cookies and wants to share them equally with Billy and Jimmy, how many does each get? Answer: Two each, with one left over."

With integers:
7 / 3 => 2
7 % 3 => 1 ("one left over after dividing by three")

I have never understood what people find hard about that, but apparently a lot of people do. And it’s dead useful.

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