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Algebra text help

  1. Aug 9, 2005 #1
    I'm taking a class in abstract algebra this Fall. There isn't a text required, but they recommend Dummit and Foot for the prelim exam.

    Does anyone know if there's a significant difference in the 2nd and 3rd editions? Other than about $50. There are pdf files with errata for both editions, so I could correct anything like that. Just wandering if there was any big content changes or anything.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2005 #2
    Nevermind...I just found this page, http://www.emba.uvm.edu/~foote/ , detailing the differences. Anyone know anyplace to get textbooks cheap?

    Or other good algebra text recommedations?
  4. Aug 9, 2005 #3


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    as always, the earlier editions are almost always better.

    here is the "best books" thread:


    and there are free algebra books out there such as the very partial one 843.1 notes, on the webpage:


    the author is kind of a halfwit but it is free.

    By the way most mathematicians I know do not think Herstein is very useful to learn from, too slick and uninsightful. Hungerford on the other hand manages to be clumsy and also uninsightful, but has lots of good examples.

    Dummitt and Foote is well liked, as is Artin.

    D&F seems to cost $100 in US and $20 pb in India. you might try this seller, at abebooks.com. search under "dummitt":

    abstract algebra

    (New Delhi, a., India)
    Book Price:
    US$ 20.61

    Terms of Sale: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed!!

    Shipping Terms: The books are shipped the same day as ordered. Shipping times may vary depending on the country to which the item is shipped. We believe in building relations and working with our customers.If you are not satisfied with your purchase for ANY reason you can return the item to us within 15 days from the date u received the book.Your full payment will be refunded within 2 buissness days after the confirmation of return delivery
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2005
  5. Aug 9, 2005 #4

    abstract algebra by herstein (aka baby herstein)
  6. Aug 9, 2005 #5


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    herstein must have some appeal to students since several like it, but i have never met a mathematician who liked it. It just does not explain what is going on. If you just want to read and memorize, maybe this is ok, but if you want to understand then I do not recommend herstein.

    However the problems are much better than the text. It was written with undergraduates in mind. It gives good puzzle - solving types of problems, but the theory is not explained deeply. So it is for beginners, not professionals.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2005
  7. Aug 9, 2005 #6
    i think that's what this guy is looking for though. hungerford's text is one of the most hardcore i've ever seen on any subject but i don't think a beginner would like it
  8. Aug 10, 2005 #7


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    Hungerford is also not one I especially recommend even for PhD candidates, since the proofs are of the "plod ahead without showing the ideas" sort. He wrote it so "an average graduate student could understand it", and I think it is wrongly conceived. I.e. even weaker students benefit from deep insightful explanations.

    Mike Artin's book is by a world class algebraic geometer and algebraist and he really lets the ideas just roll off his fingertips. Hungerford is fine for examples, and he has proofs of all the theorems, but the insight that only a master can give is not there, for me personally at least.

    The books by the most famous algebraists are the ones by Artin, Van der Waerden, and Jacobson. The rest of us are mostly journeymen explaining as much as we can, although there are other fine books out there.

    Of course Hungerford is a professional algebraist and I am not, but I stand by what I have said. I met him while he was writing his book and he said he thought Lang's book was too hard, and he wanted his book to be halway between Van der Waerden and Lang in sophistication.

    Perthaps he succeeded but for me Van der Waerden, and Lang, and also Artin, are still better books. Nonetheless Hungerford is probbaly good to have on the shelf for reference but I would not limit myself to what can be learned there.

    I would recommend Dummitt and Foote as offering what Hungerford does, only better in my opinion. But everyone should judge for herself.
  9. Aug 11, 2005 #8
    i had a look at the sample pages of the dummit/foote text on amazon & it looked like it's got tons of examples. if the rest of the book is like that, especially the stuff on modules & the structure of rings it might be worth picking up sometime. the artin book didn't have any sample pages but it got good reviews. i'll try to have a look at that one somehow also.
  10. Aug 11, 2005 #9


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    by the way, it is absurd in my mind to worry that a new edition of a 900 page grad algebra book will have a crucial page or two that was omitted in the previous edition. The likelihood of any human being other than the author ever reading the whole thing is quite small.

    of course by murphy's law, the instructor will always assign hw from the new paragraph.
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