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Compare the following books - Griffiths, Sakurai, Shankar

  1. Feb 27, 2009 #1
    Ok, maybe the subject has been discussed in some manner in other posts, but I would like a clear comparison between :

    * David J Griffiths - Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
    * Shankar - Principles of Quantum Mechanics
    * Sakurai - Modern Quantum Mechanics

    What is your experience with these books, which one would you choose for studying QM alone?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 27, 2009 #2
    I would advise against using Griffiths.

    As for the others, well, I can't say.
  4. Feb 27, 2009 #3
    FOr studying QM alone, as a beginner, I would choose Grifiths. It's an easy book however, and some people do not wat that.
  5. Feb 28, 2009 #4
    griffiths really is a poor book. the exercises range from ridiculously simple to ridiculously inane. a lot of them just test your algebraic abilities or your ability to remember the notation. people say shankar is good and he emphatically states that his exercises aren't pointless. sakuari is a good book as well but i tried it reading before having read griffiths and it wasn't accessible. i say go with shankar.
  6. Feb 28, 2009 #5


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    I think Grifftihs is good, and so is Sakurai. But Sakurai is more advanced, not suitable for first exposure of QM. Griffiths is best of those books to start with.

    Concerning exercises, there are lots of such books. And also class pages on the internet with old exams with solutions etc.

    Now more comparisons. Griffiths uses mainly the wave-function approach and Sakurai the Dirac notations with bra-ket. Also the style in Griffiths book is more 'modern'.

    Shankar is also more advanced than Griffiths, and it contains longer mathematical introduction and review of classical mechanics than Sakurai (which can be good if you don't know your analytical mechanics)

    So, what you are you after? A FIRST book on QM to study on your own or what? Do you want other advices for intro-book?
  7. Feb 28, 2009 #6
    I didn't like Griffiths at all. His unorthodox approach to explaining physics concepts has never appealed to me. Sakurai is very good, but assumes you're already familiar with wave mechanics. It is definitely a graduate level textbook, as is Shankar.

    Merzbacher was my favorite graduate level quantum text. It is self-contained and really gives a good overview of the subject. At the undergraduate level, David Park's book is outstanding, and you don't have to spend $150 to buy it.
  8. Feb 28, 2009 #7
    Working with Shankar, what exercise book / website would you recommend?
  9. Feb 28, 2009 #8


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    I don't know a good book for beginners. All I can say is that I really disliked the book we used (Gasiorowicz), and that when I got my copy of Sakurai (a year later, for a more advanced class) I really couldn't see why we didn't start with that. But when I said something to that effect in this forum, several people told me that Sakurai is much too advanced for a beginner. Maybe they're right, I don't know.

    Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that Sakurai is no longer the book to get. "Quantum mechanics: A modern development" by Leslie E. Ballentine seems to have taken over that spot. See e.g. the comments here. I haven't bought it myself, but I checked it out at Amazon and Google books, and I think it looks very very good.

    In my opinion, no matter what book you get because it's supposed to be suitable for beginners, you should also get a copy of Ballentine.
  10. Mar 1, 2009 #9
    I believe there really is only one reasn people like Griffiths QM and EM books: they have the solutions manual.

    Yes, let's not kid ourselves, every student has the solutions manauls, and that is the only reason they like his books. Without them his books are aweful and incomprehensible. With them, they're still difficult (because they're badly written) but easier to read. They like them because if Griffiths is the book used for the course, the questions in tuts/tests etc come from Griffiths. I really don't like Griffiths.
    Don't buy it unless it's the required book.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2009
  11. Mar 1, 2009 #10
    Well, I'm from Europe, we don't really have a required book in our course, rather a large number of references, and the student is free to choose what he/she wants. That is the main reason for which I am asking for some advice.

    I don't know what to say, I never heard of this book. I asked my professor and he said he never heard of it...I'm gonna take a look and see if it's worth buying. Thanks for the tip. ;)

    My question still remains open about a possible exercise/problem source for a beginner in QM.
  12. Mar 1, 2009 #11


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    If I were you, I would stick with a book that your professor recommends and uses, so that in case in doubts and questions, you can ask him about it.

    here are some texts about excerices

    Problems and Solutions in Quantum Mechanics by Kyriakos Tamvakis

    Problems and Solutions on Quantum Mechanics by Chung-Kuo K'O Hsueh

    Problems in Quantum Mechanics: With Solutions by Gordon Leslie Squires

    Schaum's Outline of Quantum Mechanics by Eliahu Zaarur

    All of these get good costumer grade on amazon
  13. Mar 1, 2009 #12
    Thank you very much malawi_glenn for those titles. I'm surely going to search for them.

    Regarding what you said about asking my professor. I wrote one post above you that he gave me a list of possible books, and among those were the three works in the title of this topic. He said it was up to me to choose the one that suits me best. I just wanted to see what others said about them, what they liked/disliked.
  14. Mar 1, 2009 #13


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    i would put it like this: if this is the fist time for QM, don't get Sakurai, go for Griffiths or Shankar
  15. Mar 2, 2009 #14
    Just to add another book for your consideration: "Quantum Mechanics" by Bransden and Joachain.
    I used it in my QM course where Griffiths was the required book. I loved it, and it goes nicely with Griffiths.
    Or try: " Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications" by Nouredine Zettili
  16. Mar 2, 2009 #15
    Well, we could surely add hundreds of fairly good books in the list, but I considered the top 3 classics, so to say. :smile:
  17. Mar 3, 2009 #16
    Well, I say Bransden and Joachain is excellent, much better than Griffiths, which I do not rate highly. Also, Zettili has a perfect rating on amazon.com (B&J get 4.5/5). These books are not fairly good, they are brilliant, which is why I suggested them. Wy would I suggest a book I thought was mediocre?
  18. Mar 3, 2009 #17


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    One used Bransden and Joachain as text for intro-class in QM here, but switched to Griffiths :P

    this is also a text which gets excellent grades on Amazon: Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications - by Zettili
  19. Mar 3, 2009 #18
    I own a copy of Bransden and Joachain, and can say it's a excellent reference text that would cover everything you'd need in an undergraduate degree (until QFT) with precision and detail. (The only thing they've not substantially exceeded the treatment in my degree courses of is certain points of atomic physics- possibly because they wrote another textbook on that...) The style is quite dry though.
    I don't own any of the other books, though I've looked at Griffiths and Sakurai. Griffiths seems a very clear book but quite basic and limited in scope; Sakurai seems an excellent book, but I got the impression it wasn't for beginners. (I wasn't looking for treatment of any of the basic stuff, like solving the Schroedinger equation for a square well potential, so I can't comment with authority, but I got the distinct impression that it was heavy on the abstract, more powerful formalism most people come to later on in their degree having met wave mechanics first.)
  20. Mar 3, 2009 #19
    I did not exactly say they are mediocre, but the three in the title are used by most students. Of course there are many more good books out there, but there must be a reason why people use the "magic" three. :smile:
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