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Relativity Books for learning the maths used in learning Relativity

  1. Jun 14, 2018 #1
    Can anyone suggest a book from where I can learn the math used in relativity like Tensors,Minkowski spacetime metric ,etc ? A suggestion of pdfs would also be appreciated?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2018 #2


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    Are you looking for a text on the mathematics or for a text on relativity. Tensors and differential geometry is covered in many basic books (including mine), but they will generally not discuss the specifics of Lorentzian manifolds but instead keep to Riemannian geometry (where the metric is positive definite). The generalisation to pseudo metrics is rather straight forward though and any relativity text should discuss it.
  4. Jun 17, 2018 #3
    I agree with Orodruin, get a good intro to GR that does a good job covering tensors. I recommend Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity.

    If you want more mathematics and more depth, I suggest Frankel, Geometry of Physics, but it may be too much for a first pass.
  5. Jul 17, 2018 #4
    For a GR intro, I really liked Foster and Nightingale's "A Short Course in General Relativity" because it progresses very naturally like this:
    1. Curvilinear coordinate systems in flat space (e.g. polar or spherical)
    2. Curvilinear coordinate systems for a curved surface in flat space (e.g. a spherical surface)
    3. Specialize to remaining in that curved surface, and now you have a curved 2d space. Suddenly we are in GR land.
    If you already know what the Jacobian is and how to transform between (x,y) and (r,theta) in flat 2d, then you can quickly get up to speed. If not, he introduces these things, and you'll just have to move a little more slowly.
  6. Nov 28, 2018 #5


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    For Special Relativity I like the following:

    For GR MIT has some nice notes:

    But I like Lovelock's Text because it discusses and proves Lovelock's Theorem from which the Einstein Field Equations are easily deduced. The issue of course its not easy to prove:

  7. Nov 28, 2018 #6
    Do you guys know what the basis of a tensor is?
  8. Nov 28, 2018 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    That depends on how you view it. I will not go into differential forms, but give the old answer. Its as sort of a generalized matrix of numbers that has certain transformation properties. It comes in two general types contravarient and covarient, and even mixed. Like matrices in linear algebra the actual numbers depend on the 'basis' of the vectors it is transforming. But the modern view is like a linear transformation in linear algebra, the actual numbers in a particular basis is not that important - the 'abstract' properties of the transformation is whats is mostly considered.

    The only real way to understand them is to go through the literature such as what I posted.

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