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If you could take Intermediate E&M again

  1. Dec 4, 2008 #1
    Hi guys, first time poster. Currently I'm going to the university of chicago and signed up to be a physics major. I've already made it through my first year--so far I've taken classical mechanics, Intro to E&M, intro to waves, light, & Optics, and I'm almost done this year with "Modern Physics," which is sort of like an introductory QM course (we've mostly dealt with simple solutions to the S. equation). I've also taken two physics specific math courses, one which was multivariable calculus and vector calculus, the other was linear algebra and differential equations.

    Anyways, I'm signed up next quarter to take Intermediate mechanics (I think we're using the book Classical Mechanics, by John R. Taylor) and intermediate E&M (I HOPE we're using griffiths E&M, because i already own that book). Does anyone have any advice for these two courses? If you could go back and take them again what would you recommend? So far my grades for physics have been mostly OK, around the B to -A range. I feel like I understand everything well though I'm really not a very good test taker... All of the tests we get are time crunching, simple examples with easy math that you have to do very quickly. I'm awful at this, which sucks because I don't expect it to change much over the next few years. I'd much prefer heavier math with more time to think about the problem.

    So yeah, any advice? Study guides I should get? I was planning on reading the textbooks some over winter break.

    Thanks guys,

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2008 #2
    perfect i just gave someone this advice.

    for intermediate mechanics learn everything about the harmoinc oscillator DE

    any differential eq book will have a section on this

    for e&m review all of your line,surface,volume,curl,divergence, integrals in spherical and polar coordinates.

    do all the problems in the first chapter of griffiths.
    that's it.
  4. Dec 6, 2008 #3
    I took a classical mechanics course that used Taylor's text. Overall, it is a really good text at explaining the physics, but a little verbose. I thought the course was a breeze and didn't have to devote a lot of time to studying until we got to the calculus of variations and the Lagrangian formalism. If your a little rusty with differential equations, you should probably brush up as the chapters on projectile motion and the harmonic oscillator use them heavily.

    I also completed an E&M course that used Griffiths text. I found this course substantially more difficult. It relies extensively on vector calculus in different coordinate systems, and its application seemed very different from the vector calculus problems in my calculus III course--I would recommend getting a Schaum's book on E&M (if it exists) as a supplement. Become proficient with expansions since they are used a lot. You will likely have to solve Poisson's equation using a variety of coordinates systems; these solutions rely on sets of complete functions (e.g bessel, legendre) that may be unfamiliar to you. Like the previous poster said, know Chapter 1 proficiently, especially Stoke's and Green's theorems, since its the basis of everything that follows.

    EDIT: The MIT OpenCourseware site has some good stuff on E&M:
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-02TSpring-2005/LectureNotes/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  5. Dec 7, 2008 #4
    Wow thanks a lot guys. This has been very helpful. Looks like I'm going to have a fun winter quarter!
  6. Dec 7, 2008 #5
    Take note that the MIT OCW link buffordboy provided is actually freshman level E&M. It does have a complete list of very helpful video lectures, but it's not at the level of your course.

    The MIT course you're looking for would be
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-07Fall-2005/CourseHome/index.htm [Broken]
    which is E&M 2, taught out of Griffith's textbook. Unfortunately, it does not have the video lectures, but it does have a complete set of homework sets and exams (with solutions)

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Dec 8, 2008 #6
    I think my success in all my E&M courses (from intermediate through graduate level) was largely because I had previously studied PDE's / "Boundary Value Problems" (I like David Powers book, but that's just what I had... I'm not a math prof, so there may be better out there that some could recommend). My professor teased me about (but loved the fact that) I started all my test problems from Maxwell's equations and justified very step.

    Such a course (or the study of such a text), will familiarize you better with many of the math constructs mentioned in buffordboy23's post:

  8. Dec 8, 2008 #7
    So far the only methods I've learned for partial differential equations are seperation of variables and very easy change of variables stuff, which we covered in my quantum class. For we covered all sorts of fourier analysis and solutions for ODE's in my math methods class.

    So i'm thinking over break I'll just work throught he first chapter of griffiths, or as much as I can.
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