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Book recommendation on a variety of topics

  1. Oct 18, 2013 #1
    Hi Guys,

    I am after recommendations of books that teach in a specific way. Basically I have come out of a 3 year physics degree with just doing the work but not really understanding the material (the mathematics) that well.

    I want to re-learn a bunch of topics in a way so I will actually understand them. The kind of books I am after are like the Students guide to vectors and tensors. It literally breaks the topics down and holds your hand every step of the way. This is the only way I can learn. I have learnt more about vectors in 10 pages of this book than my entire undergrad maths course.

    I also need a lot of applications of things being taught. I can't just read something as it is and understand the point unless I see it applied to a problem. Basically most books start with a proof or the definition and that stuff just blows over me. I am more after the physical Meaning of what these functions / operations / do.

    That being said, does anyone have any books they've come across that teach in such a way? I am mainly after topics such as matrices and their uses to real problems. Formulating problems into matrix algebra and solving them. And books on ODE and PDE.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2013 #2


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    I am not familiar with the book you cite so I am not sure if I am on the right track, but for a nice application-oriented presentation of linear algebra, I really like:
    It is a standard book used by engineers, and include lots of applications to help motivate why you should care. Cheap used editions are available; I am only familiar with the 3rd edition.

    The same author also has an "introduction to linear algebra" book (that is perhaps more popular than the one I listed) that goes along with lectures you can find on ocw.mit.edu, but I am not familiar with it.

    The easiest book on PDEs is the book by Farlow. period.

    I don't really know any ODE books that have any hope of fitting the bill - I cannot think of any that aren't uninspiring. But I am no expert. One really FUN book that you might like as a physicist is "nonlinear dynamics and chaos" by Strogatz.

    Don't forget free books. The math methods book by Nearing looks good to me:

  4. Oct 26, 2013 #3
  5. Oct 27, 2013 #4
    Hi Guys,

    Thanks a lot for your responses. I will see if my Uni library has these books and have a flip through them. I can detect pretty quickly weather I will learn anything from a book, but these look good. That PDE book looks like a gem also. The key of 'what does it mean physically' really allows me to fully grasp a theory.

    Random side note but I am working through a PhD and couldn't for the life of me grasp a certain concept. I found a book that had a simple graphical illustration of what it means, and it instantly made me understand it. I hope some of these books have that 'eureka' moment.

    Thanks again
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