Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Classical Best analytical mechanics textbook recommandation

  1. Sep 24, 2016 #1
    I'm a second year physics student. We are going to use "hand and finch analytical mechanics", however the reviews I saw about this book are bad.
    I've already taken calculus for mathematicians, linear algebra, classical mechanics, special relativity, and electromagnetism.

    The topics it covers are:
    Lagrangian Mechanics
    Variational calculus and its application to mechanics
    Linear Oscillations
    One dimensional systems: Central forces and the kepler problem
    Neother's theorem and Hamiltonian dynamics
    Theoretical mechanics: From canonical transformations to angle-action variables
    Rotating coordinates Systems
    The dynamics of rigid bodies
    And more.

    Could you recommend the best book or study method you know?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Shouldn't Goldstein still be the standard reference for a beyond first course on classical mechanics ?
  4. Sep 25, 2016 #3
    I'll try Goldstein then
  5. Sep 27, 2016 #4
    You might be interested in Landau/Lifshitz' "Mechanics" and V. Arnold's "Mathematical Methods in Classical Mechanics".
  6. Sep 28, 2016 #5
    L&L and Arnold are very good but I also like the following
    Analytical Mechanics by John Oliver
    toc here - https://global.oup.com/academic/pro...antum-mechanics-9780191001628?cc=us&lang=en&#

    Another favorite of mine is (although I am not sure it covers all your topics)
    Mechanics by Spivak

    Theoretical Mechanics of Particles and Continua by Fetter
    is great as well.

    Speigel's book
    has nice problems.

    and don't forget to read this beautiful book on the side
    Emmy Noether's Wonderful Theorem by Neuenschwander
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  7. Sep 29, 2016 #6
    It is funny to see how opinions of students on Hand's book differ from their teachers' views.

    Petr Horava of UC Berkeley (mainly known for Horava–Lifshitz gravity) recommends Hand for his Analytical Mechanics course:
    see http://www-theory.lbl.gov/~horava/105.html

    The primary required text is L.N. Hand and J.D. Finch, "Analytical Mechanics":
    "This book indeed reflects very closely the logic of Analytic Mechanics as I see it.
    In my opinion, we are very lucky to have a really good book..."

    "Goldstein is a classic text that is always a good book to have in your library. If you compare the Table of Contents of Golstein you will find that its logic is actually quite close to that of Hand-Finch. On the other hand, Goldstein was written in the 50's and it shows..."

    David Tong (University of Cambridge) in his "Lectures on Classical Dynamics" also recommends Hand as a primary text:
    see http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/tong/dynamics/clas.pdf

    "This very readable book covers everything in the course at the right level. It is similar to Goldstein’s book in its approach but with clearer explanations, albeit at the expense of less content."

    On the other hand, one needs to take into account that Berkeley and Cambridge are prestigious universities and the requirements laid on their students are high.
  8. Sep 30, 2016 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    My favorite is Landau and Lifshitz vol. I. As all the books of this 10-volume series it comes right to the point.

    Goldstein is generally a good book but utterly flawed on anholonomic constraints, describing the wrong vakonomic rather than the correct d'Alembert dynamics using a wrong implementation of the constraints (which are on the allowed variations/virtual displacements rather than on the generalized velocities).

    Another good book, also containing "naive Newtonian mechanics" (i.e., the stuff one usually learns before using the variational principles) is

    F. Scheck, Mechanics, Springer 2010
  9. Sep 30, 2016 #8
    I've noticed "Classical Dynamics: A Contemporary Approach" by José and Saletan, if often listed alongside Goldstein as a recommended reference for mechanics courses but I can't personally speak to it. Any thoughts for/against?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?