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Classical Electromagnetism book?

  1. Jun 15, 2015 #1
    Hi guys. I have just finished my first year as an undergrad and I still think I don't know enough E&M ( took half year course and I barely passed the final exam).
    Can you please recomand a good textbook to study over the summer?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2015 #2
    Griffiths's introduction to electrodynamics is the standard next step, but that's only if you've taken multvariable calculus. If not, review whatever textbook your intro EM course used.
  4. Jun 15, 2015 #3
    I assume your first E&M course used a book like Serway (probably the same book as your first mechanics course)... if so, just review that.
  5. Jun 15, 2015 #4
    We did not use a book, and that was terrible. The teacher told us to study from " [insert random guy] or berkley E&M course or Feynman", now both the english course he recomanded were for a year of E&M not for half a year designed. I'm looking to something more up to date. As I said it went terrible and I feel I dont know anything I just want to study it all over again, over the summer. Any textbook suggestion is welcome. THanks
  6. Jun 15, 2015 #5
    Well that's... interesting. Tell me, what book did you use for your first semester of physics (probably mechanics)?
  7. Jun 15, 2015 #6
    Teacher's own book. I'm from east Europe so no biggie. Mechanics was ok but E&M I need some standard textbook ..
  8. Jun 16, 2015 #7
  9. Jun 16, 2015 #8
    I would like to see the face of his teacher when he will bring up the matter of that luminiferous medium (ether)...
    (p. 384 of the second volume).
    En passant, I am suprised by how modern Maxwell's writing is.

    Perhaps a beginner is better served with a more modern (last century at most) treatment...
    Kip is good to begin with.
    Purcell is really nice to develop a physical intuition.
    Fenyman's second volume (which is available online) is truly 'traditional' in its approach.
    Dugdale's short book is a good way to learn EM from the Maxwell equations.
    Jefimenko on one side and Panofski and Phillips on the other are good all around introductions for the more advanced student.
    I am not going to suggest Jackson's book, I really do not have the nerve. :-)
  10. Jun 27, 2015 #9


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    The book closest to what I like to use if I had to give an E&M lecture is Landau/Lifshitz vol. II, because it treats E&M as a relativistic theory, which makes it much easier than in the traditional approach. I'd not recommend to read Maxwell's treatise (although it's timely because of the 150 year anniversary). This is great fun if one knows the subject already from a more modern perspective. Another very good one from a very modern perspective is the E&M volume in the theoretical-physics series by Scheck. It only lacks a bit the usual worked out applications of the formalism.

    From the traditional books, I like Feynman vol. II (this I'd recommend for a beginner), Jackson (a must read although the 3rd edition is a bit spoiled by introducing SI units; here I'd recommend the 2nd edition), Schwinger (brillant with a lot of not so common tricks, particularly in introducing the special functions like Cylinder Bessels etc.).
  11. Jun 27, 2015 #10


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    Did the freshman E&M course you took use the differential equation versions of Maxwell's equations (involving curl, divergence, etc.) or just the integral versions? If it was just the integral versions and you just barely passed, I would recommend a typical intro physics book - Halliday is fine but other folks here may know better options. If you used curl, etc., then the 3rd edition of Purcell (since it has solutions to some problems) or any edition of Griffiths may be a good choice; Feynman volume 2 would also be good but you will need a problem book to go with it.

    If you just barely passed freshman E&M I would not recommend Landau and Lifshitz.

  12. Jun 27, 2015 #11


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    Well, the integral form of Maxwell's equation are more complicated than the differential forms, which are the fundamental laws suitable for a local relativistic field theory. The problems you can solve with the integral forms are usually much simpler in the local form. I never understood, why one bothers freshmen with the more complicated integral form instead of using the time to teach them vector calculus first...
  13. Jun 27, 2015 #12


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    I too like Dugdale's book very much.
  14. Jun 27, 2015 #13
    Go with griffiths, and if you search good then you will also find the solved problems.

    The best book on Electrostatics and Electrodynamics is indeed Griffiths. There is also a schaums
    series on Electromagnetism, get that and you will be okay.

    Whichever book you get, in the end its all about problem solving so you need to master
    that with the help of the solved problems and examples. Griffiths+sol and Schaums !
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