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Is jackson ridiculously hard? and if so how do people manage doing the problems in the book?

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- Thread starter captain
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- #1

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Is jackson ridiculously hard? and if so how do people manage doing the problems in the book?

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On the other hand, once we got past magnetostatics and into electrodyamics, I found the material substantially more intuitive. We did not get into the late chapters (radiation reaction, etc) in my course.

My prof also took E&M under Jackson, and told us a story that he was contracted to design some accelerator magnets- sure enough, he had to consult his own book for some of the details. The rumor was that he had difficulty with his own book, to the delight of his pupils....

- #4

seycyrus

Is jackson ridiculously hard? and if so how do people manage doing the problems in the book?

Find the solutions in Griffiths and Landau/Lifshchitz :)

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For all the torture Jackson put me through, I must say that at least it's a good character-building experience for first year grad students. Jackson did, if nothing else, teach me to get out of my "undergrad mentality," and got me used to the living hell of grad school. I'd probably punch Jackson in the face if I ever saw him on the street (he's still alive!), but he's good for something.

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- #7

Ben Niehoff

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Some important analytical methods are learned, such as spherical harmonic expansions, Bessel function expansions, eigenfunction expansions, and multipole expansions (using both spherical and Cartesian multipoles). Green's method is demonstrated for solving differential equations with a source term, and is applied to Poisson's equation under several different boundary geometries. The book also gets into (multipole) radiation, various geometries for waveguides, and a demonstration of various laws of optics derived from Maxwell's equations in different media; however, these are covered in the second part of the course, which I haven't taken yet.

For most of the problems in the book, there are (at least) two ways of getting the solution: a long, tedious, but obvious way; and a much shorter, elegant, but non-obvious way. It helps a LOT to think about the problem a bit and try to find the more elegant way to do it. In particular, pay attention to results derived from previous problems, because they will often apply to later problems. Also, many problems actually give you the solution, and ask you to show that it is true; therefore, if you get stuck, you can often simply start with the solution given, and show that it satisfies whatever rules it ought to satisfy, thus working the problem backwards. I suspect this is actually how Jackson intended some of the problems to be solved, though I'm not completely sure.

The one thing that will save you the most time on the homework problems is knowing how to manipulate vector quantities, and do vector calculus, without writing out the components. The only problem with this is that, in my experience, schools don't usually teach this enough in

And lastly, many of the problems will seem impossible at first glance, or seem not to provide enough information. The key thing is to start actually trying things to get some insight. Also, the biggest error I made in the class that made it difficult to do problems was forgetting to use Maxwell's equations. It seems they should be obvious enough, but there is a strong tendency to try to rely only on vector identities. If you get stuck on a problem, the first thing to do should be to go back to Maxwell's equations; they often supply the piece of information you thought was missing.

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