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Best books to self-study general relativity

  1. Dec 8, 2006 #1
    from the point of view of a maths graduate who studied almost all pure maths and who graduated 15 years ago and has forgotten most of it

    i want the full mathematical treatment. though i'm rusty i know i can learn and enjoy difficult mathematics

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2006 #2
    You should do a search through this section and the book review section, because this has come up several times before.

    I suggest Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity, because he does a good job on special relativity and introduces all the neccessary math.

    Comments on some other books:

    Rindler, Relativity: Special, General, and Cosmological. Very thorough on SR, and lots of insight on everything, but might frustrate the mathematically inclined reader.

    Ohanian & Ruffini, Graviation and Spacetime. Very physical book, but not quite enough on SR for a beginner.

    Carroll, Spacetime and Geometry. Great book, very modern, practical, and reads very well, but pretty much assumes mastery of SR.

    Misner, Thorne & Wheeler, Gravitation. Too fat and eccentric for a first book. But many libraries have it, and it's fun to explore.

    Wald, General Relativity. Too sophisticated and advanced for an introduction.
  4. Dec 8, 2006 #3
    Hi. I am also a math major, or rather was, I am teaching in a high school now but still continue my self-study for fun. Maybe I will go for graduate school in a few years. Anyway... the first book I used in Relativity course was "Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity" by Hartle, but his physics-first approach does not work for me (the course was offered in the physics department).

    I am now re-learning via "A short course in General Relativity" by James Foster and J. David Nightingale. Not very rigorous but work fun for me. If you want the rigorous treatment, you may try these books that I use for reference:

    1. "Semi-Riemannian Geometry With Applications to Relativity" by Barrett O'Neill. Great but could be difficult for beginner.

    2. "The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime: An Introduction to the Mathematics of the Special Theory of Relativity" by Gregory L. Naber. You probably won't learn much physics from this book but the mathematical foundation is explored in greater details and you will appreciate SR more.
  5. Dec 15, 2006 #4
    Thankyou everyone for your help. I've gained alumni membership to my university library so it will give me a chance to check out the books in detail, but judging by a quick look in the bookshop i'll be going with schutz
  6. Dec 15, 2006 #5
    Now that you have access to a university library, you might try to find Spacetime, Geometry, Cosmology by Burke. He punts on some of the more difficult differential geometry, but otherwise there's a lot of lovely math in this book.

    And here's http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/RelWWW/reading.html [Broken].
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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