Good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level

In summary, there are several recommended books for an introductory understanding of general relativity at the undergraduate level. These include "Gravity from the Ground Up" by Bernard Schutz, "Relativity Made Relatively Easy" by Andrew Steane, "General Relativity: 1972 Lecture Notes" by Robert Geroch, and "General Relativity (A Geometric Approach)" by Øyvind Grøn and Sigbjørn Hervik. For a less technical audience, "Gravity from the Ground Up" and some materials from Taylor & Wheeler are also suggested. Other suggestions include "Flat and Curved Space-Times" by George Ellis and Ruth Williams, "General Relativity" by N.M.J. Woodhouse, "
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Summary:: I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.

I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.
 
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I would go with Hartle, above. If you do not like applications, and the "physics first" approach, that Hartle uses, Schutz is probably best, at the undergrad level, or maybe Ohanian and Ruffini. At the graduate level,Carroll may be best, or maybe Wald, for the ambitious.
 
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StenEdeback said:
Summary:: I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.

I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.
You could try this series of lectures from MIT



They are on the MIT website as well. They go quite well with Sean Carroll's book - although that is more advanced than Hartle.
 
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  • #5
Here are some newer ones to consider:

Tom Moore - A General Relativity Workbook
http://pages.pomona.edu/~tmoore/grw/
(I didn't get to teach with this because the school bookstore wouldn't get this because it couldn't be "rented".
I chose Hartle instead.)

Andrew Steane - Relativity Made Relatively Easy
https://www.amazon.com/dp/019966286X/?tag=pfamazon01-20

(old lecture notes now published... possibly too advanced for typical undergraduates)
Robert Geroch - General Relativity: 1972 Lecture Notes
http://www.minkowskiinstitute.org/mip/books/geroch-gr.html
(Wald says that Geroch influenced some of his presentations of topics.)

some older ones:

Ellis & Williams - Flat and Curved Space-Times
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0198506562/?tag=pfamazon01-20

N.M.J. Woodhouse - General Relativity (there's a Special Relativity book as well)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1846284864/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Ohanian - Gravitation and Spacetime
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1107012945/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Ludvigsen - General Relativity (A Geometric Approach)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/052163976X/?tag=pfamazon01-20UPDATE:

My earlier answer above assumed that physics majors would be studying the material.

Here are some choices for a less technical audience:
(from a recent post: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...om-multivariate-calculus.997339/#post-6431113 )
 
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  • #6
robphy said:
Here are some newer ones to consider:

Tom Moore - A General Relativity Workbook
http://pages.pomona.edu/~tmoore/grw/
(I didn't get to teach with this because the school bookstore wouldn't get this because it couldn't be "rented".
I chose Hartle instead.)

Andrew Steane - Relativity Made Relatively Easy
https://www.amazon.com/dp/019966286X/?tag=pfamazon01-20

(old lecture notes now published... possibly too advanced for typical undergraduates)
Robert Geroch - General Relativity: 1972 Lecture Notes
http://www.minkowskiinstitute.org/mip/books/geroch-gr.html
(Wald says that Geroch influenced some of his presentations of topics.)

some older ones:

Ellis & Williams - Flat and Curved Space-Times
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0198506562/?tag=pfamazon01-20

N.M.J. Woodhouse - General Relativity (there's a Special Relativity book as well)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1846284864/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Ohanian - Gravitation and Spacetime
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1107012945/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Ludvigsen - General Relativity (A Geometric Approach)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/052163976X/?tag=pfamazon01-20UPDATE:

My earlier answer above assumed that physics majors would be studying the material.

Here are some choices for a less technical audience:
(from a recent post: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...om-multivariate-calculus.997339/#post-6431113 )
Thank you very much!
 
  • #7
PeroK said:
You could try this series of lectures from MIT



They are on the MIT website as well. They go quite well with Sean Carroll's book - although that is more advanced than Hartle.

Thank you!
 
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StenEdeback said:
Thank you very much!
Thank you very much!
 
  • #9
For me the best intro text is Landau Lifshitz vol. 2. It's just the right amount of geometry with emphasis of the physics. It's also well worth to study the first part about electromagnetism. It's the best "relativity-first approach textbook".
 
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vanhees71 said:
For me the best intro text is Landau Lifshitz vol. 2. It's just the right amount of geometry with emphasis of the physics. It's also well worth to study the first part about electromagnetism. It's the best "relativity-first approach textbook".
Thank you!
 
  • #13
mpresic3 said:
I would go with Hartle, above. If you do not like applications, and the "physics first" approach, that Hartle uses, Schutz is probably best, at the undergrad level, or maybe Ohanian and Ruffini. At the graduate level,Carroll may be best, or maybe Wald, for the ambitious.
Thank you!
 
  • #17
Another vote for Hartle as a first pass.

The book by Ta-Pei Cheng, A College Course on Relativity and Cosmology, is similar in intent.

I like Zee. It has tons of cool stuff in it. But that's what makes it less than ideal for a first pass: too much stuff.

D'Inverno has also become one of my favorite books, but I'd label it a graduate text.

If Tevian Dray rewrote his General Relativity book so that it is more coherent for linear study, it could be the best introduction.
 
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  • #18
Daverz said:
Another vote for Hartle as a first pass.

The book by Ta-Pei Cheng, A College Course on Relativity and Cosmology, is similar in intent.

I like Zee. It has tons of cool stuff in it. But that's what makes it less than ideal for a first pass: too much stuff.

D'Inverno has also become one of my favorite books, but I'd label it a graduate text.

If Tevian Dray rewrote his General Relativity book so that it is more coherent for linear study, it could be the best introduction.
Thank you!
 
  • #19
StenEdeback said:
Summary:: I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.

I am looking for a good introductory book about general relativity at undergraduate level.

May be a bit off topic, but if you ever want to learn Special Relativity, give Spacetime Physics a gander. Look for the red edition.Now for General Relativity. What is your math background?
 
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MidgetDwarf said:
May be a bit off topic, but if you ever want to learn Special Relativity, give Spacetime Physics a gander. Look for the red edition.Now for General Relativity. What is your math background?
I have a masters exam in electronics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. There, many years ago, I did extra studies for pleasure of tensor calculus and also some general theory of relativity. For a little more than a year I have now studied, just for fun, quantum mechanics, particle physics, and electrodynamics and some mathematics. I am now studying group theory, planning soon to study quantum field theory and hopefully later M theory and superstring theory.
 
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StenEdeback said:
I have a masters exam in electronics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. There, many years ago, I did extra studies for pleasure of tensor calculus and also some general theory of relativity. For a little more than a year I have now studied, just for fun, quantum mechanics, particle physics, and electrodynamics and some mathematics. I am now studying group theory, planning soon to study quantum field theory and hopefully later M theory and superstring theory.

In that case, it sounds like Zee's book is exactly the sort of thing you'd enjoy.
 
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  • #22
Daverz said:
In that case, it sounds like Zee's book is exactly the sort of thing you'd enjoy.
Thank you very much! Then I will read Zee's book. By the way, I have a hard time finding a book about group theory that I like and that gives me what I need for my studies. Can you recommend suc´h a book?
 
  • #23
The classic is

M. Hamermesh, Group Theory and its application to physical problems, Dover (1989)

Another one is

H. J. Lipkin, Lie groups for Pedestrians, North-Holland Publ. Comp. (1966).
 
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  • #24
vanhees71 said:
The classic is

M. Hamermesh, Group Theory and its application to physical problems, Dover (1989)

Another one is

H. J. Lipkin, Lie groups for Pedestrians, North-Holland Publ. Comp. (1966).
Thank you! What about Zee's group theory book?
 
  • #25
I don't like Zee's books, but that's only a personal opinion. It's anyway a good idea to first check several books on a subject in a library, because it's a personal matter, from which book and which approach one learns a subject the best.
 
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StenEdeback said:
Thank you! What about Zee's group theory book?
For me it is a big no. If you can get your hands on Wu Ki Tung's book, it is all you need for group theory in physics without invoking sofisticated mathematics. It takes you from 0 to Young Tableaux for the classical groups, which are a foundation for Quantum Chromodynamics and Electroweak Theory in the Standard Model. It goes through the Lorentz group smoothly, without trying to attempt finesse which Zee misses (real vs complex, real vs complexified vs real forms of complexified Lie algebras).
As for GR, I only recommend two books: Ray D'Inverno's (first level) and Wald's (second and third level). If the latter is too expensive as a used book, then perhaps Norbert Straumann's text should serve the same spot, if found at a decent price.
 
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  • #28
vanhees71 said:
I don't like Zee's books, but that's only a personal opinion. It's anyway a good idea to first check several books on a subject in a library, because it's a personal matter, from which book and which approach one learns a subject the best.
Yes, it is personal.
 
  • #29
dextercioby said:
For me it is a big no. If you can get your hands on Wu Ki Tung's book, it is all you need for group theory in physics without invoking sofisticated mathematics. It takes you from 0 to Young Tableaux for the classical groups, which are a foundation for Quantum Chromodynamics and Electroweak Theory in the Standard Model. It goes through the Lorentz group smoothly, without trying to attempt finesse which Zee misses (real vs complex, real vs complexified vs real forms of complexified Lie algebras).
As for GR, I only recommend two books: Ray D'Inverno's (first level) and Wald's (second and third level). If the latter is too expensive as a used book, then perhaps Norbert Straumann's text should serve the same spot, if found at a decent price.
Thank you very much! I will look at the books you have suggested.
 
  • #30
StenEdeback said:
Thank you very much! I will look at the books you have suggested.
I don't think it's been mentioned that Sean Carroll's notes are online here:

https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/grnotes

These form the basis of his GR textbook.
 
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  • #32
StenEdeback said:
Yes, it is personal.
I really like Zee's book, because they offer a lot of intuition, insights and context. That compensates the lack of rigour more than enough.

Also, they're actually fun to read. As a reviewer wrote: "his books are not meant for you to become experts, but to fal in love with the subject." Personally, I don't have the ambition to become an expert. I mainly want to be amazed and get an intuitive understanding. Al that rigorous math is easily forgotten anyway. But maybe I'm braindamaged.
 
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  • #33
dextercioby said:
For me it is a big no. If you can get your hands on Wu Ki Tung's book, it is all you need for group theory in physics without invoking sofisticated mathematics. It takes you from 0 to Young Tableaux for the classical groups, which are a foundation for Quantum Chromodynamics and Electroweak Theory in the Standard Model. It goes through the Lorentz group smoothly, without trying to attempt finesse which Zee misses (real vs complex, real vs complexified vs real forms of complexified Lie algebras).
As for GR, I only recommend two books: Ray D'Inverno's (first level) and Wald's (second and third level). If the latter is too expensive as a used book, then perhaps Norbert Straumann's text should serve the same spot, if found at a decent price.
Scanned PDFs of Wald are easy to find on the internet. I won’t link, because I am not sure about the legalities for different countries.
 
  • #34
haushofer said:
I really like Zee's book, because they offer a lot of intuition, insights and context. That compensates the lack of rigour more than enough.

Also, they're actually fun to read. As a reviewer wrote: "his books are not meant for you to become experts, but to fal in love with the subject." Personally, I don't have the ambition to become an expert. I mainly want to be amazed and get an intuitive understanding. Al that rigorous math is easily forgotten anyway. But maybe I'm braindamaged.
Well, the qft book is not that brillant. You can read it if you have already good knowledge about the topic. Then it offers entertaining approaches to the known topics, but imho usually it's not detailed enough for the beginner to really understand the topic. I don't mean the lack of rigor. Rigor in QFT is something for the mathematicians to work out. One should be aware that it's an unsolved problem. Except for toy models in lower dimensions afaik there's no rigorous non-perturbative treatment of real-world QFTs, let alone the Standard Model.
 
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