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How best to prepare for Jackson E&M?

  1. Aug 13, 2012 #1
    Hello all,
    Long story short, I am taking E&M course that uses Jackson, but in undergrad I only took 1 quarter of E&M (electrostatics).
    With classes about a month away, what would a good way to prepare. I realize that it is not enough time, but I figured some prep would be better that nothing. Would it be better to read/work through an undergrad text on E&M (griffiths or schwartz) or to spend the time going over math concepts (possibly vector calc and diff eqs).
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2012 #2
    If you only took a quarter of intro E&M do not take Jackson. You simply aren't ready unless you're truly exceptional. Jackson assumes you know part 1 griffth pretty well. The math tools will go beyond vector calc and diff eqs. Why not just take a griffth course in E&M?
  4. Aug 13, 2012 #3
    I am in grad school, and it is required for my program.
  5. Aug 13, 2012 #4
    What text did you use for that quarter of E@M. What math classes did you take so far?
  6. Aug 13, 2012 #5
    The text was Griffiths. I currently have both Griffiths and Schwartz. I took Linear Algebra, Vector Calc and Differential Equations. The Diff Eq class was an 'experimental' class that focused on applications (no rigor) and mainly covered just ODE's, so that will probably hurt me. A physics class that I took had an integrated math methods part to it, but I definitely do not recall most of it.

    I fully expect to spend a lot of time on the course and to make friends in the course to study with. I do not have to TA, so that leaves a little bit of extra time. I am basically trying to prioritize what to look over, my lack of E&M or brushing up on math skills.
  7. Aug 13, 2012 #6


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    You will be well-served by having seen more than electrostatics by the time you start--especially magnetostatics, induction, Maxwell's equations, waves, and relativity. Use Griffiths. (Schwartz is a lovely book, but you don't really have time to start something new.) As for vector calc, it will be clear from the physics whether you need to brush up on it or not. A bit of review of orthogonal functions and complex variables would be great if you have time. Plan on working hard this year and seeking a lot of assistance.
  8. Aug 13, 2012 #7
    Well if you already took Griffth then you theoretically have the prerequisite. If you took Griffth then you probably learned about the boundary value problem and have some experiences solving PDEs. Make sure you are comfortable with those.
  9. Aug 14, 2012 #8
    Thanks xdrgnh and marcusl for the replies. I have decided to make revisiting the electrostatics chapters in griffiths the top priority and looking over a mathematical physics text depending on how far I progress.
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