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Classical A Good Supplement to Goldstein's Classical Mechanics

  1. Nov 26, 2015 #1
    Dear Physics Forum advisers,

    I am a collegiate junior with double majors in the mathematics and computer science. I bought a classical-mechanics book written by Herbert Goldstein in order to aid my current undergraduate research, grow my curiosity in the physics, and prepare for upcoming course in the quantum physics. I did not take any general-physics course since my freshman year, but I have been studying the general physics by Schaum's Outlines of College Physics, which I just finished the mechanics chapters. On today's morning, I bought the book Goldstein's Classical Mechanics since I often hear that it has a authoritative reputation like Rudin's PMA, but I found that his problem sets are rather discouraging for the first comers (at least me). So I am looking for a good book on the classical mechanics that can supplement Goldstein well. Could you recommend me some books to learn the classical mechanics along with Goldstein?

    My mathematical level is on the introductory real analysis, vector calculus, and abstract linear algebra.

    I apologize for the grammatical errors (leaving off to the Thanksgiving Party!)

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2015 #2
    // my current undergraduate research,//

    A lot depends on what your research is. There are a lot of ways to supplement Goldstein. The most time effective depends on what you are trying to do in the near term.

    My preferences are heavy on Hamiltonian mechanics, but that is because of what I did next.
  4. Nov 26, 2015 #3


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    Goldstein is usually used in grad school. You should find a classical mechanics text intended for upper-division courses.
  5. Nov 27, 2015 #4
    Thanks for the advice. My research is currently in the theoretical computer science, but I need to pick up the classical mechanics since the upcoming new project will involve the aeronautic engineering and simulation. Plus, I would like to use the book to prepare myself for the upcoming course in the quantum mechanics. As for the specific branches, I think I need to know the Newtonian, Hamiltonian, and Lagrangian mechanics.

    Could you inform me the good supplementary books for Goldstein? I would like an elementary exposition along with the easy-to-moderate problem sets. Also what are some "ways" to supplement Goldstein?
  6. Nov 27, 2015 #5

    As mentioned above Goldstein is usually used as a graduate text. To prepare for undergrad QM and other advanced undergrad courses and applications, an appropriate undergrad text is more appropriate. The link above is to Marion.

    I would also suggest you consider the undergrad text used in whatever Mechanics course is a pre-requisite for the QM and other courses at the school where you plan to take them. Often faculty are careful in their textbook selection to choose textbooks which dovetail the presentation of material in ways that are helpful for downstream courses.
  7. Nov 27, 2015 #6
    Thank you very much for the advice! I found out that Marion&Thorthon text used in my university's introductory classical dynamics. The coordinator for that course also recommended Kleppner&Kolenkow and Taylor books if I want elementary and hand-holding books. Since I got all of the recommendation, I am going to the physics library now to see which one suits my taste. Wow, Marion&Thorton is really expensive...Will it be safe to purchase the past edition?
  8. Nov 27, 2015 #7
    The need for the most current edition is usually only driven by the requirements of courses in which a student intends to enroll.

    If you do not intend to enroll in a course, an earlier edition should suit your needs well for self-study.
  9. Nov 27, 2015 #8


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    A lot of people like Goldstein. I passionately hated it. I disliked everything from the notation to the smell. The year after I took the course, they changed the literature to "Mechanics: From Newton's laws to deterministic chaos" by Florian Scheck. I borrowed a copy from someone and studied a little, and attended a few lectures, even though I had already passed the course. I got the impression that it's a very good book. I suggest that you take a look at it.

    If I wanted to brush up on my mechanics now, I would use Arnold. But it's too mathematical for most people. It requires the reader to know some differential geometry. If I wanted to get better at solving problems in mechanics, I would check out Landau and Lifshitz, because I've been told that it's very good for that. But Kleppner and Kolenkow is a good book for problems too. I don't like its treatment of special relativity though. For SR and an introduction to tensors, I highly recommend chapters 1-3 in "A first course in general relativity" by Schutz.

    As for graduate/undergraduate, books like Sakurai, Goldstein and Jackson were all considered undergraduate at my university. But we didn't study them cover to cover. Only selected parts were used. This brings back some memories...I had two terrible teachers for those three courses.
  10. Nov 27, 2015 #9
    Thank you for the detailed advice! I heard that V. Arnold's books are not goo for the first comers. What is an entrance level to Landau/Lifshitz? Is it a goof book for the beginners in the classical mechanics? I checked out Marion, Kleppner&Kolenkow, and Taylor, but I did not check out Landau yet.
  11. Nov 28, 2015 #10


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    Someone who has actually read it will be able to give you a better answer, but my impression after searching for other comments, is that the answer to your question is no. It's bad for beginners. It's a good place to study solutions to difficult problems.
  12. Dec 1, 2015 #11


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    Did you read Feynman's lectures, 1st volume? Or the 1st volume of the Berkely's course? These are to me valid points of departure in Newtonian mechanics. Then, after enduring this easy pace and meaningful explanations, plunge to your goal: read Landau&Lifschitz that should blow your mind and prepare you for Quantum Mechanics.
  13. Dec 1, 2015 #12
    Thanks. How is Feynman's Lecture - 01? Is it good as a first introduction to the classical mechanics for students with knowledge of general physics from books like Schaum and good knowledge in the mathematics (analysis and linear algebra mostly)? Perhaps I should buy the 3rd volume to assist Shankar?

    Regarding to the quantum mechanics, I need to take it on the next semester (Spring) since my upcoming research in the theoretical computer science heavily utilizes the concepts of quantum mechanics. I actually picked up the book written by Shankar and found it very good for the self-studying.
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