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Apr21-08, 01:40 PM
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Quote Quote by lzkelley View Post
I think the discontinuity between my opinion of boas - and the general opinion is as follows:

For the most part, a physicist will use a math methods book to look up some obscure detail that they're not especially interested in (because they're not a mathematician, however close) --> i.e. they'll look up something, read a few lines, and use an equation or method etc. I can imagine that working well with boas - its incredibly densely packed with information, and includes an immense array of topics.
When i was using boas, we were working through it - page by page, in which case boas' methods are somewhat lacking. She often goes into detail on easier steps, then takes huge leaps on complex ideas with hardly an explanation. Also, when a student is reading through the book to learn a topic they're not familiar with - she doesn't provide enough information, or enough examples.

Anyway, it sounds like overall you're looking for a book that should be more qualitative and less intense. Maybe take a look at the other peoples alternative recommendations?
However, in defense of Boas, you need to look at the intent of her book that she laid out in the Preface (2nd Ed.):

This book is particularly intended for student with one year of calculus who wants to develop, in a short time, a basic competence in each of the many areas of mathematics needed in the junior to senior-graduate courses in physics, chemistry, and engineering.
It is the intent of this book to give these students enough background in each of the needed areas so that they can cope successfully with junior, senior, and beginning graduate course in the physical sciences. I hope, also, that some students will be sufficiently intrigued by one or more of the fields of mathematics to pursue it further.
Scientists, even more than mathematicians, need careful statements of the limits of applicability of mathematical processes so that they can use them with confidence without having to supply proof of their validity. Consequently I have endeavored to give accurate statements of the needed theorems, although often for special cases or without proof. Interested students can easily find more detail in textbooks in the special fields.
What she intended to do was to make sure that you did not see the phrase "orthonormal" or "eigenvalues" for the first time in a physics class. For many of us, we had to learn the mathematics at the same time as the physics. This is something she's trying to avoid. But this means that she has to deal with students who are still early in their undergraduate years with limited mathematics sophistication. That is why the book has to be, in many instances, superficial in some of the depth of the material being covered, and as she has said, covered only special cases. Many of these special cases are what physics and engineering students would have seen or will see, such as heat conduction problems and Gauss's law. It is also why this text is less "advanced" than say, Arfken text. But for the target audience and target purpose of what she's trying to accomplish, I don't know of any better text than this.