Griffiths or Jackson for Electrodynamics?

  • #1
jbergman
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I'm looking to brush up on my knowledge of electrodynamics and am trying to decide between Jackson and Griffiths.

I have a fairly advanced math background and am comfortable with differential geometry, special and general relativity.

I'm leaning toward Jackson but wanted to get input from others here who have experience with both books.
 
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  • #2
You wanna scream at Jackson for how hard his book.

I didn't try other books.
 
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  • #3
jbergman said:
I'm looking to brush up on my knowledge of electrodynamics and am trying to decide between Jackson and Griffiths. […]
Picking Jackson for brushing up would be a world’s first! 😉
 
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  • #4
apostolosdt said:
Picking Jackson for brushing up would be a world’s first! 😉
Well, I took E and M as undergraduate a long time ago, so long ago I can't even remember which textbook I used and I feel my math level is such that I can tackle most grad texts. But, yes, I've heard Jackson is a beast.
 
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  • #5
jbergman said:
Well, I took E and M as undergraduate a long time ago, so long ago I can't even remember which textbook I used and I feel my math level is such that I can tackle most grad texts. But, yes, I've heard Jackson is a beast.
It’s a rewarding task, though, reading from Jackson. Enjoy your time!
 
  • #6
I think it depends on what your real goals are. Do you want to learn E+M just for E+M sake, or are you trying to learn how to solve E+M problems again?

I much prefer Schwinger’s book on E+M to both though, if you happen to have access to that.
 
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  • #7
What’s your end goal?
 
  • #8
Griffiths and Jackson really are at different levels. They aren't really peers/competitors/whatever. Which one you want depends on, well, what you want to do.
 
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  • #9
romsofia said:
I think it depends on what your real goals are. Do you want to learn E+M just for E+M sake, or are you trying to learn how to solve E+M problems again?

I much prefer Schwinger’s book on E+M to both though, if you happen to have access to that.
I don't have a concrete goal. Physics at this point of time is more of a hobby for me. I am most interested in QFT and the Standard Model but I want to brush up on E and M as I think it would help in working through some of the QFT problems I've seen.
 
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  • #10
Frabjous said:
What’s your end goal?
Thinking about it more, I think my goal is to try and attain the proficiency in Physics at roughly the Master's level.
 
  • #11
Maybe Jackson is suitable for you but I wouldn’t assume that off the bat even if you do have a high level pure math background and took undergrad EM years ago. Maybe look online for upper level undergrad EM homework assignments. Take a crack at them and then evaluate?

I guess I can send you my undergrad EM homework and solutions for that purpose (they are on an old computer or USB drive somewhere but I’ll have to do it tomorrow, I’m fairly tired right now). Also they are LaTeX’d :D

If you find them dull and easy (which you might) move onto Jackson.

Mind you my undergrad EM only covered electro and magnetostatics.
 
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  • #12
PhDeezNutz said:
Maybe Jackson is suitable for you but I wouldn’t assume that off the bat even if you do have a high level pure math background and took undergrad EM years ago. Maybe look online for upper level undergrad EM homework assignments. Take a crack at them and then evaluate?

I guess I can send you my undergrad EM homework and solutions for that purpose (they are on an old computer or USB drive somewhere but I’ll have to do it tomorrow, I’m fairly tired right now). Also they are LaTeX’d :D

If you find them dull and easy (which you might) move onto Jackson.

Mind you my undergrad EM only covered electro and magnetostatics.
That's actually a solid idea. I probably can find some on the web.
 
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  • #13
You have two options:

1. Start with Griffiths. If you find it too easy, then switch to Jackson.

2. Start with Jackson. If you find it too hard, then switch to Griffiths.

Without knowing the details of your previous exposure to E&M, including how long ago it was, it's hard for an outsider to say which book is more likely to be suitable for you.
 
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  • #15
Also OP

“Modern Electrodynamics” by Andrew Zangwill

(Don’t know why it’s called “Modern” though)

Is a newer Grad Level textbook that people are seeming to like. I have a copy but I haven’t used it extensively because my class used Jackson. Some Amazon reviews even contend that it should eventually replace Jackson.

Also it’s cheaper (but apparently unavailable at Amazon right now?)
 
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  • #16
Some SOLICITED Amazon reviews even contend that it should eventually replace Jackson.
 
  • #17
Meir Achuz said:
Some SOLICITED Amazon reviews even contend that it should eventually replace Jackson.
I’m sorry I don’t follow. What indicates to you that the favorable views espousing such opinions are solicited?

I have no dog in the fight. I used Jackson for most part I’m just curious.
 
  • #18
I'd start with Griffiths. It's a very good introduction at the advanced undergraduate level. Jackson is very comprehensive, i.e., if you need to answer some deeper question it's pretty likely you find the answer there.

Another alternative is vol. 2 of Landau and Lifshitz, because it's taking the "relativity-first approach", which is much more natural since Maxwell theory IS the paradigmatic example of a relativistic classical field theory, and it gives a very good preparation for quantum field theory and the Standard Model.
 
  • #19
jbergman said:
I don't have a concrete goal. Physics at this point of time is more of a hobby for me. I am most interested in QFT and the Standard Model but I want to brush up on E and M as I think it would help in working through some of the QFT problems I've seen.
A wild suggestion. If you are mostly interested in QFT and the SM, perhaps you don’t need to delve in such textbooks you are naming in that OP. A good elementary text, like Feynman’s Lectures, Vol. II, might be adequate; an extra benefit then would be that you’d get into QFT stuff as soon as possible and only consult Griffiths or any as required. Well, just a thought.

Be warned, though; Feynman is not an ordinary “elementary” text.
 
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  • #20
Well, then it's indeed a good strategy to just start with the subject you are really interested in. For relativistic QFT, I'd recommend Coleman's lectures:

S. Coleman, Lectures of Sidney Coleman on Quantum Field
Theory, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., Hackensack
(2018), https://doi.org/10.1142/9371
for the foundations of QFT and a more modern book on the Standard Model, e.g.,

M. D. Schwartz, Quantum field theory and the Standard
Model, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York
(2014).
 
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  • #21
jbergman said:
Thinking about it more, I think my goal is to try and attain the proficiency in Physics at roughly the Master's level.
Jackson.
 
  • #22
Tbh I don't see that much value in Jackson of you want a refresher. Griffiths gives you pretty much the same physics, Jackson just approaches the subject using more high powered mathematical methods. Which is cool and all but probably only if you want to delve into that sort of stuff for its own right. I think better than both for someone with a math background who already has encountered that sort of stuff and IS NOT interested as much in more "applied" aspects is Lechner, it's a very interesting book I'm reading now because Jackson honestly bored me a bit. Otherwise if application etc is your thing, Zangwill is very good too if Griffiths is too easy.
 
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  • #23
As I have gotten older, Jackson has become the first book I open when I have a question. My questions are in classical electrodynamics not the quantum aspects.

This is not necessarily relevant to the original question.
 
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  • #24
Frabjous said:
As I have gotten older, Jackson has become the first book I open when I have a question. My questions are in classical electrodynamics not the quantum aspects.

This is not necessarily relevant to the original question.
Yeah it's certainly a good reference book. For learning I think it's eh.
 
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  • #25
PhDeezNutz said:
I’m sorry I don’t follow. What indicates to you that the favorable views espousing such opinions are solicited?

I have no dog in the fight. I used Jackson for most part I’m just curious.
If you buy things on Amazon, you have to learn how to recognize solicited rave reviews.
One tactic I use is to concentrate on the three-star reviews, which are not solicited.
If an article has too many reviews many of them are solicited.
If you mention one review, I will judge it for you. It takes experience.
The book in question had a large number of rave reviews the day it was published.
If a review doesn't mention ict, ...
 
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  • #26
I don't know, whether the reviews on Amazon about Zangwill's book are solicited or not. When I looked at the book myself, I wondered, why it was titled "modern" electrodynamics. For me it was just one more book treating the material in the old-fashioned way as also does Jackson. It's not a bad book, but also not that exceptional. It's solid work, you can for sure learn classicael E&M from. For me the much older volume 2 of Landau and Lifhitz is much more modern in it's "relativity-first approach", and in contradistinction to the try of Purcell, which is also written with the "relativity-first approach", it really makes the subject more easy to learn than in the old-fashioned "non-relativistic-way first" conception.
 
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  • #27
Meir Achuz said:
If you buy things on Amazon, you have to learn how to recognize solicited rave reviews.
One tactic I use is to concentrate on the three-star reviews, which are not solicited.
If an article has too many reviews many of them are solicited.
If you mention one review, I will judge it for you. It takes experience.
The book in question had a large number of rave reviews the day it was published.
If a review doesn't mention ict, ...

That’s a good point. I should then learn to be more discerning when buying new textbooks.

However I have it and I vaguely recall using it when Jackson was unclear. Maybe it’s not all that it’s cracked up to me but I am glad to have it.
 

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