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Is Griffiths Electromagnetism understandable for first year students.

  1. Nov 30, 2007 #1
    Hi, second term is coming up, woot. I have e&m next semester and I heard that griffiths is one of the best texts around on numberable occasions, my university has it but it's not for my class but a senior class instead. I don't see why I need to use a certain text book, I didn't for calc or mechanics. I am pretty sure that I should be able to comprehend it but just want to get some oppinions before I put down $100+ and take the dive.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2007 #2


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    Have a good background in vector calculus and differential equations?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=CMZ5AAAACAAJ&dq=Griffiths+Electromagnetism%22 [Broken]
    Hunt around for a used copy
    or possibly an older edition.

    Here's are some courses that use it
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-022Fall-2006/Syllabus/index.htm [Broken] (advanced introductory)
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-07Fall-2005/Syllabus/ [Broken] (more typical course)
    look at the prerequisites.

    You should get it [cheaply, if possible] and consult it from time to time... even if it seems advanced. Think of it as preview of what's to come... so you can prepare yourself for when you have to use the text "for real".
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Nov 30, 2007 #3
    At this point, I'm not sure that there *is* an upper division E&M text other than Griffiths. It's overwhelmingly the text of choice. (Graduate E&M is even more dominated by Jackson's book.)

    However, this is quite different than freshman physics E&M. As robphy said, you really need a good background in vector calculus and differential equations, otherwise you'll just be knocking your head against the wall.

    If you have the background, by all means pick up a copy. Otherwise, I'd suggest that you get the recommended text for your class and wait until you develop the necessary mathematical background.
  5. Dec 1, 2007 #4
    I can safely say I would not have understood anything in Griffiths' E&M book when I was takin first year E&M. I'm taking the "real" E&M class now and it's a LOT different. I used Giancoli (sp?) for my first year book, which just licks the concepts in physics and provides it from that point of view. In Griffiths' book, you jump right into the meat of it. Like others have said, lots of calculus and Diff EQ's will be needed.

    So.... go to your library and check it out. If you don't understand at least half of what's going on by just reading the chapters, then the book is definitely not for you.

    Which mechanics book did you use, by the way?
  6. Dec 1, 2007 #5


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    What is the text for your class?
  7. Dec 1, 2007 #6
    I used Griffiths during my undergrad, I found it pretty good. Now I am using Walter Greiner and JD Jackson.
  8. Dec 1, 2007 #7


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    My first year undergrad course on E&M used Griffiths as the primary text. As robphy and others have said, a knowledge of vector calculus should be adequate.
  9. Dec 1, 2007 #8
    When I was in your position, taking freshman E&M, I used grifiths to study ahead because I was panning to take uppe division E&M the following fall (beginning of sophomore year). It worked out great, but keep in mind I didn't buy it just borrowed from the library.

    P.S. I initially got my knowledge in vector calc and PDE's from that book, in introduces them slowly. I don't think it will help in your current class though, but it is good for your future.
  10. Dec 1, 2007 #9
    Alright, thanks for the replies. I think it may be a bit above my head at the moment, which is good to know. I definitely am not comfortable with vector calc right now, and will be learning it next semester (well, really during the xmas break since I know it's important for e&m.) I think I will just use my standard text for now.

    I'll do that if I can find one cheap :-)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2007
  11. Dec 1, 2007 #10

    Dr Transport

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  12. Dec 1, 2007 #11
    Amazon.com lists used copies of that book starting around $20, much cheaper than the new price or that listed on Barnes and Nobles
  13. Dec 1, 2007 #12
    You can try, all the vector calculus you need is introduced in the first chapter.
  14. Dec 1, 2007 #13
    My second semester undergrad Physics course was on EMT, and Griffiths was the sole text used. As op have mentioned, you just need some background in vector calculus, which is covered in the first few sections. I had a mathematics course which covered this material in the first semester, so we were familiar with all of it going into the EM course.
  15. Dec 1, 2007 #14
    Well that's cool. I noticed the review, and I've been over some degree of it (enough to be familiar, not enough to call it any degree of mastery) a few times, I didn't know it was sufficient for the entire book though.
  16. Dec 2, 2007 #15
    It is, but of course you need to know basic functions, algebra and calculus...which you already do. But you need to know Dirac delta functions well...the book teaches you all that, but its an all important part of the book I feel.
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