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Difference between graduate EM and undergrad EM

  1. Mar 1, 2012 #1
    What is the difference between classical EM at the undergrad and graduate levels?

    Is it just the math that's harder at graduate levels, or are there any new concepts that are not covered in undergrad, that's covered in graduate? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2012 #2
    Depends on what you mean by new material. There will be new applications. There is a ton on radiation, causality and relativity that are not covered in standard UD courses, for example. But you completed the theory more or less as an undergraduate (assuming you covered at least somewhat radiation, conservation laws, relativity and the potential formulation).

    But a huge difference will be the difficulty of the problems. Problems in classical mechanics and e&m get very mathematically involved. Green's functions are one of the trickier standard mathematical method one learns in physics and E&M is covered in their use.
  4. Mar 2, 2012 #3
    So the main problem will be the math involved. Is it recommended to specifically spend time practicing math alone to prepare? If so, is Boa's book a good source?
  5. Mar 2, 2012 #4
    No, it's not necessary to study extra - that's what your entire undergrad has been about. I mean, if you want to do more math, that's always great but if you tried hard and learned your UG studies well, that'll be enough to make the transition, but the transition is always hard regardless. Part of the point of graduate E&M and mechanics is to bring one's math to a professional level.

    Boas is a fine undergraduate text, if you want to study extra, that's a good source.
  6. Mar 2, 2012 #5
    thanks for the help. my math is weak, i hope i can pass. it will just be 2-3 years of hard slogging and torture through the MS.
  7. Mar 2, 2012 #6
    Keep in mind, [almost] everyone finds the transition to graduate level physics very difficult. The first semester for most people is a back breaker. But, it seems most adjust quickly and it's back to business.
  8. Mar 2, 2012 #7
    Series expansions and a ridiculous amount of algebra. A graduate level E&M course teaches you how to approximate non-symmetric problems. I loved E&M from day one even though I was trained in math and physics for my undergrad. A lot of the very mathy physicists don't really like E&M because it's very dirty in it's calculations. They enjoy QM or classical mechanics because it can eventually turn out pretty, especially from an axiomatic point of view. You'll always hear of QM for mathematicians or Relativity for mathematicians. I still have yet to hear of a E&M for mathematicians.
  9. Mar 2, 2012 #8
    thank you. when you say "Algebra" do you mean... high school algebra... plz tell me that's the algebra you mean...

    in my mathematical physics class i am having a hard time with series solutions to differential equations and especially the endless identity proof homework problems for Legendre, Bessel and Hermite functions.

    i have the feeling that this will bite me in the *** very damn hard later, when you said "series expansions".
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