How to self-study advanced books like Weinberg's QFT?

In summary, the conversation discusses the challenge of self-studying advanced topics, specifically in physics, from a textbook. The individual has struggled to find a successful method for studying alone and is seeking advice on techniques that will allow them to learn the material effectively without spending an excessive amount of time on each chapter. Suggestions include working through derivations, not getting stuck on one concept, and having a project or problem to apply the knowledge to. Working through all the problems in the book is also recommended as a way to solidify understanding.
  • #1
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Although the question came to my mind while studying Weinberg's QFT books, the doubt is much more general than that, and is not a doubt about physics, but rather about how to actually study and learn the topic alone from the book.

From one point I agree that coming up with this doubt nearly finishing my master's is quite a shame, but I believe its never too late to seek improvement. The thing is: I took one QFT course last year based on Schwartz' book, and this year I've decided to take Weinberg's book to recap the topic and improve my knowledge, but then I've found out I really don't know how to self-study.

I pick the book, and then I don't know what to do.

What sequence should I follow? Should I just follow the book step by step without missing anything (recall I already studied the topic)?

Should I just read it? Should I try to summarize the book in some notes? Should I not try to summarize the book, and rather just pick a paper and reproduce the derivations?

If I just read the book, I feel a few days after I'll have forgotten the details (this doesn't seem to happen when having a course, because the topic is constantly being presented by the instructor).

If I try to summarize the book, I feel it becomes extremely time consuming and becomes counterproductive, because it takes forever to go through a single chapter.

With Weinberg's book I've tried summarizing it, and it took me forever to go through chapter 2, and in the end I didn't even continue. So this seems to be not the correct way.

My question is: I have an advanced book like Weinberg's QFT book, I already have previous knowledge on the topic (I took a course - albeit based on much easier book - and passed with A). What are techniques that really work (that won't take forever to go through a single chapter, for example, and that also will allow me to leave each day of study confident that I actually learned the topic) to go through the book and study it alone?
 
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  • #2
leo. said:
Although the question came to my mind while studying Weinberg's QFT books, the doubt is much more general than that, and is not a doubt about physics, but rather about how to actually study and learn the topic alone from the book.

From one point I agree that coming up with this doubt nearly finishing my master's is quite a shame, but I believe its never too late to seek improvement. The thing is: I took one QFT course last year based on Schwartz' book, and this year I've decided to take Weinberg's book to recap the topic and improve my knowledge, but then I've found out I really don't know how to self-study.

I pick the book, and then I don't know what to do.

What sequence should I follow? Should I just follow the book step by step without missing anything (recall I already studied the topic)?

Should I just read it? Should I try to summarize the book in some notes? Should I not try to summarize the book, and rather just pick a paper and reproduce the derivations?

If I just read the book, I feel a few days after I'll have forgotten the details (this doesn't seem to happen when having a course, because the topic is constantly being presented by the instructor).

If I try to summarize the book, I feel it becomes extremely time consuming and becomes counterproductive, because it takes forever to go through a single chapter.

With Weinberg's book I've tried summarizing it, and it took me forever to go through chapter 2, and in the end I didn't even continue. So this seems to be not the correct way.

My question is: I have an advanced book like Weinberg's QFT book, I already have previous knowledge on the topic (I took a course - albeit based on much easier book - and passed with A). What are techniques that really work (that won't take forever to go through a single chapter, for example, and that also will allow me to leave each day of study confident that I actually learned the topic) to go through the book and study it alone?
I have had varying success with this, too. I try to work through the derivations to convince myself that I really understand the material. I have learned not to obsess too much if I don't understand any particular point as it is presented. Sometimes it gets clearer later with additional context, and allowing myself to get stuck on one thing I don't understand tends to stop my progress altogether. This is when I usually consult other sources to find a clearer explanation.
One thing that really helps me is to have in mind a project or a problem I want to apply my new knowledge to. That motivates me to keep going, and gives me something to practice on. Also, I work all the problems given in the book. (If none are given, I try to find problems in other sources.) That is what really gives me a solid feeling that I know the material.
 

1. How do I know if I am ready for advanced books like Weinberg's QFT?

To self-study advanced books like Weinberg's QFT, you should have a strong foundation in basic physics concepts and mathematics, including calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. You should also have a good understanding of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. It is also helpful to have some prior exposure to field theory and special relativity.

2. What resources are available to help me self-study advanced books like Weinberg's QFT?

There are many online resources available, such as lecture notes, video lectures, and forums where you can ask questions and discuss concepts with others. Additionally, there are textbooks and study guides specifically designed for self-studying QFT, which can provide structure and guidance as you work through the material.

3. How can I stay motivated while self-studying advanced books like Weinberg's QFT?

It can be challenging to stay motivated while self-studying, but setting specific goals and deadlines for yourself can help. It can also be helpful to find a study partner or join a study group to keep you accountable and motivated. Additionally, taking breaks and rewarding yourself for progress can help prevent burnout.

4. Is it necessary to complete all the exercises and problems in the book while self-studying?

While it is not necessary to complete every single exercise and problem, it is important to actively engage with the material and attempt a variety of problems to solidify your understanding. It is also helpful to check your solutions against those provided in the book or online to ensure accuracy.

5. How long does it typically take to self-study advanced books like Weinberg's QFT?

The time it takes to self-study advanced books like Weinberg's QFT can vary greatly depending on an individual's background knowledge, study habits, and dedication. It is important to set realistic expectations and commit to consistent and focused study to make the most progress. It is also helpful to break up the material into smaller chunks and set achievable goals to track your progress.

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