1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Jump in abstraction in textbooks

  1. Feb 1, 2013 #1
    Out of curiosity, is the difference between graduate level vs. upper division undergraduate larger than the difference between intro undergrad vs. upper division undergrad as far as treatment and abstraction of the subject

    so halliday to griffith's a larger jump than griffith's to jackson?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Not necessarily, but perhaps the gradient is greater for the pure or theoretical subjects as opposed to applied.

    If one thinks of 2 year blocks: 2 years undergrad lower level, 2 years undergrad upper level, 2 years graduate master's, and 2 years graduate PhD, then there is a continuum.

    The abstraction is greater in theoretical sciences than in the applied sciences.
  4. Feb 1, 2013 #3
    It depends too much. The jump to Jackson, in this instance, is probably larger but Griffiths (all imo) slightly below average in difficulty (due to his excellent presentation) and Jackson is considered one of the hardest graduate textbooks.

    I found the jump between LD and UD and UD to graduate to be about the same, on average.
  5. Feb 2, 2013 #4
    Jorriss is very right. but it requires mathematics for Jump.
    If you have Read Halliday then just do a AP Calculus BC book and jump to Griffiths.
    And if you have done Griffiths then just do Apostol Calculus and jump to Jackson.
  6. Feb 2, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I don't think one can speak in generalities.

    The difficulties for me in going from Halliday to whatever is going from integral to differential versions of Maxwell's equations, especially trying to understand why Stokes's Theorem is true. Another, even in Halliday is that things are built up historically. Many recommend Purcell as intermediate between Halliday and Griffths, but I found Purcell very difficult. My personal favourite is David Dugdale's Essentials of Electromagnetism which is ahistorical, and starts from Maxwell's equations, giving a birdseye view of the subject right at the start.

    Similarly I think quantum mechanics is very difficult if one takes the historical route. If you just learn straight away about it from the postulates, it's much easier. Same with special relativity. Mechanics has long been taught from Newton's laws, so there is no reason not to present the newer subjects in the easy way, and skip all the history.

    Of course a bit of history is needed, to supply the data and background.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  7. Feb 2, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I have noticed that graduate courses seem to be more rigorous with the math than undergrad classes. Some of the math in undergrad classes felt a "little hand wavy". Wile the math in grad classes is not done as rigorous as in pure math courses, it seems like there is more of an emphasis on it and to connections of certain areas with physics. For example, in my graduate quantum mechanics course, we used a lot of language from topology that may not get mentioned in undergrad. One thing you will realize in graduate physics is that topology and group theory creeps up everywhere. It's really beautiful.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook