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Algebra Group theory book

  1. Sep 28, 2015 #1
    I study physics and currently taking a mathematical physics course. One of the topics is group theory and we will see the following topics:

    Symmetries, discrete groups, homomorphisms, isomorphisms, continuous groups, and linear transformations in phase space.

    This topic will be covered with the professor's notes, but I doubt that will be enough to study for the material. He recommends Herman Weyl's book "Group theory & Quantum Mechanics", but I've also skimmed through Herstein's abstract algebra and like it quite a lot.

    My question to you then is: Can I use Herstein's book to study for these materials? Namely I plan to read the chapter on Group Theory and that's it.

    What do you think? Should I opt instead for Weyl's book? It doesn't seem too mathematical by the way.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2015 #2


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    This of course depends on how elaborate and extensive your professor's lecture notes are. Some professors tend to write books and call them lecture notes. For others, lecture notes are simply scans of hastily scribbled class notes.

    You do not mention which level your course is at or what the prerequisites of the course are. The choice of book might also depend upon such thing as well as on whether or not you want to have a book which goes deeper than the course material.
  4. Sep 28, 2015 #3
    I'm assuming his notes aren't that elaborate and I'm nearly 100% sure about that.

    This is a 5th semester course, so I guess it qualifies as an upper-undergraduate level course. I think Herstein is a pretty common undergraduate abstract algebra textbook and I feel that I can easily digest it even though it was not mentioned as a recommendation by this professor.

  5. Sep 28, 2015 #4
    Herstein certainly won't harm you. If you like it, go for it. It is not physics oriented, but I don't see why you can't use more than one book.
  6. Sep 28, 2015 #5


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    there is very little overlap between weyl and herstein, and herstein is much more elementary, so it won't substitute for weyl, although it may help you get started. weyl has a lot on "group representations", or homomorphisms from a group into groups of matrices, or linear transformations, as well; as tensors. It also has a lot of physics while herstein has none. certainly herstein is likely to be easier to read than weyl and more modern.
  7. Sep 28, 2015 #6

    Dr Transport

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  8. Sep 28, 2015 #7
    Am I correct in saying that Weyl treats the topics I mentioned, while Herstein doesn't? I've seen the chapter on group theory by Herstein and it doesn't seem to contain all the topics I mentioned. Probably I'm wrong... Does anyone have a say on this?
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