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Intro Physics Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday

  1. Strongly Recommend

  2. Lightly Recommend

  3. Lightly don't Recommend

  4. Strongly don't Recommend

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  1. Jan 19, 2013 #1
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2013 #2


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    This is a pretty typical book of its type, including the exploitative price tag. I taught out of it a few times and hated it more than some books and less than others. Most of the following criticisms would apply to most of the commercial offerings competing with this book.

    It's a plug-and-chug book aimed at students who don't want to understand basic principles. Sometimes a fact or an equation is justified with experimental evidence or theoretical reason, but often not. The last edition I looked at had a completely erroneous claim that conservation of angular momentum followed from Newton's third law. The motivation for the relativistic equation for momentum is one of the worst pieces of pedagogy I've ever seen enshrined in a textbook.

    There is a large number of problems, and many of them deal with examples that are interesting in their own right. However, the focus is overwhelmingly on numerical computation, which I think is exactly the wrong thing to do with students at this level.

    Students who have a strong math background and who actually want to understand the subject would be better of with Kleppner and Kolenkow for mechanics and Purcell for E&M.
  4. Jan 24, 2013 #3
    What you want recommend its Co-Author Krane or Walker
  5. Jan 30, 2013 #4


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    The 3rd edition was the required text when I took first semester physics in college; the pre-req was a semester of calculus, so I took it my second semester. We covered the chapters on mechanics and thermodynamics, so that is all I can really comment on. Overall I think it is a reasonable book, and the professor made a reasonable course based on the book. Not overly challenging, but reasonable. He did have to hand out notes on elementary aspects of probability, kinetic theory, equipartition theorem, etc, as Halliday seemed to not have much of anything along those lines. Some of the problems in the book are very challenging (the bead rolling off of a sphere problem - try to do it without Lagrangians with constraints!), while some are more plug and chug. My prof. struck a middle ground, if I recall correctly.

    Now, is this book the end-all and be-all of intro physics? Of course not. However, for many of us (certainly me) K&K would be much too challenging as a first exposure to these topics and with just one semester of calculus under our belts. Having said that, I did find the approach less than satisfying so switched to the honors track for 2nd and 3rd semester physics, during which I found a few passages in Halliday to be helpful. But since I never really studied much of the EM/waves/modern physics chapters I cannot comment on them.

    Currently I use Halliday to block the glare of the late afternoon sun on my window-sill at work. If I want to understand something I cannot recall for some reason, I am much more likely to reach for Feynman.

  6. Feb 15, 2014 #5
    I was a graduate student at RPI in the 1980's (Resnick was there) and used the textbook for my students for four years. I know of no better book at this level. Many of the problems are very challenging.

    I am somewhat familiar with Giancoli but I like R and H better. However I do not know how the material from Krane or Walker adds to the book because I did not use the book after 1983. (I believe one later edition of R and H even has a problem I asked of my students. No doubt the question is taken from files of old quizzes students sometimes saved to prepare for their future exams)
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