Is My Background Strong Enough for Shankar's Mechanics Book?

In summary, Shankar's book is a good introduction to QM, but has some shortcomings. He skips steps in some of the major topics, and the exercises are sparse.
  • #1
I've taken Calc I to III and linear algebra, although the course was overall quite light. I don't know what legendre polynomials are, and haven't learned hamiltonians (and probably won't since its not in morin),
When i start the book i will have finished david morins mechanics book,tenenbaums ODE book and purcells EM book. Is my background strong enough to read shankar or will i struggle (and how much)?
Physics news on
  • #2
Shankar explains Hamiltonians, so not knowing about them won't be a barrier. I found his explanation of Hamiltonians quite intuitive and helpful. I learned QM from Shankar and, as I recall, the only prior maths he assumed were calculus and linear algebra. He uses Legendre polynomials but he explains what they are when he uses them, so you don't need prior exposure to them.

The challenge with Shankar is not so much about knowledge as about mathematical intuition. He often leaves out quite big steps, so it can be a struggle sometimes to fill in the missing steps. Also he sometimes relies on a result stated several pages ago in order to achieve a certain step, without quoting it, leaving the reader bamboozled as to the justification for the step.

However, these faults are shared by many other authors, so his book compares reasonably well with other QM texts.
  • #3
I agree with andrewkirk, your background is enough, a little mathematical maturity is also needed. Shankar skips steps in some of the major topics. I would also like to point out that in my opinion Shankar is good for Chapters 1-15 but you should still supplement it with books like Zetilli and Sakurai. The latter chapters feels like he is in a hurry and doesn't explain the material quite well, unnecessarily wordy (I don't even know what exactly what he wants to point out). Also, the EXERCISES! There is too few of them and most of them are related to derivations of what he skipped. So bottomline is, supplement it with other books.
  • #4
Many thanks for the input

What are the prerequisites for Shankar?

The prerequisites for Shankar are knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, and basic physics, as well as familiarity with complex numbers and differential equations.

Do I need to have a background in quantum mechanics to understand Shankar?

No, while some knowledge of quantum mechanics may be helpful, it is not necessary to understand Shankar's teachings.

Is it necessary to have prior knowledge of Hinduism to understand Shankar's teachings?

No, Shankar's teachings can be understood without prior knowledge of Hinduism. However, some familiarity with Hindu philosophy may provide a deeper understanding of his teachings.

Are there any recommended resources or textbooks to prepare for studying Shankar?

Yes, "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" by Shankar himself is a highly recommended resource for understanding his teachings. Other helpful resources include "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics" by David J. Griffiths and "Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum" by Leonard Susskind and Art Friedman.

Can Shankar's teachings be applied to other areas of science?

Yes, Shankar's teachings on quantum mechanics can be applied to other areas of science, such as chemistry, material science, and even biology. The principles and concepts taught by Shankar can provide a deeper understanding of the microscopic world and its effects on the macroscopic world.

Suggested for: Is My Background Strong Enough for Shankar's Mechanics Book?