Landau lifshitz

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I am very interested in self study from these texts, the 10 volume set. I am a third year physics student.
How approachable are these texts?
 

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  • #2
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First of all, the texts are graduate texts indeed. So if you haven't had any previous exposure to a topic treated in a volume I wouldn't really recommend it. The point is that a lot of the math is not explained, so if you don't understand the math you will not learn it from these books.

Second, the books are indeed good. I, personnally, came along a lot of (technical) subtleties that are usually skipped over in other books, but are treated in 2-3 sentences. Having said that, keep in mind that the books are fairly old so some stuff is indeed missing that can be found in any standard modern texts (e.g. the book on Q.E.D. is all about a quantum gauge theory, but a lot of the results are not applicable to non-Abelian gauge theories at all).

I haven't read all of the books (far from it), but the one I can really, really recommend is volume 1, Mechanics. It's an absolute gem and should be accessible for a third year student.
 
  • #3
George Jones
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I haven't read all of the books (far from it), but the one I can really, really recommend is volume 1, Mechanics. It's an absolute gem and should be accessible for a third year student.

I very much a agree. As a third-year student in a two-semester course that covered all of Goldstein, I made extensive use of the Mechanics volume. A "gem" indeed.
 
  • #4
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I third the recommendation for Mechanics. Very helpful for a graduate mechanics course.

Be careful about recent printings of this series, though. I got a copy of the QM book that had unreadable fine print. I suggest looking for older used copies first.
 
  • #5
Landau
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I disagree that the books are graduate level per se. Of course it depends on the person and on the country/university, but the first three volumes (which I know) should all be readable by a third-year (undergraduate) student. We used The Classical Theory of Fields in a third year course called Classical Field Theory, and I liked it very much.

The only cons in my opinion are the typesetting, the non-rigorousness of some of the used math, and sometimes a bit old-fashioned view. But they contain a LOT of fantastic material, which you'll hardly find anywhere else.
 
  • #6
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First of all, the texts are graduate texts indeed. So if you haven't had any previous exposure to a topic treated in a volume I wouldn't really recommend it. The point is that a lot of the math is not explained, so if you don't understand the math you will not learn it from these books.

Second, the books are indeed good. I, personnally, came along a lot of (technical) subtleties that are usually skipped over in other books, but are treated in 2-3 sentences. Having said that, keep in mind that the books are fairly old so some stuff is indeed missing that can be found in any standard modern texts (e.g. the book on Q.E.D. is all about a quantum gauge theory, but a lot of the results are not applicable to non-Abelian gauge theories at all).

I haven't read all of the books (far from it), but the one I can really, really recommend is volume 1, Mechanics. It's an absolute gem and should be accessible for a third year student.
Thanks. I have found the first volume to be very readable so far. I assumed the others would be just as readable but I guess not. I have read a couple pages of the statistical mechanics part 1 and haven't found it too bad. There are a lot of math steps skipped though.

My Prof says that Vol. I is "too easy" and that I should be looking at Goldstein. He refers to that book as the "Mechanics Bible." Is that book really worth it for mechanics?

I very much a agree. As a third-year student in a two-semester course that covered all of Goldstein, I made extensive use of the Mechanics volume. A "gem" indeed.

I am curious. Did you cover Goldstein in order? How many chapters did you cover in the first semester?
 
  • #7
dx
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Volume 5 on statistical physics should also be accessible to third year students.
 
  • #8
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My Prof says that Vol. I is "too easy" and that I should be looking at Goldstein. He refers to that book as the "Mechanics Bible." Is that book really worth it for mechanics?
Goldstein covers better adiabatic invariants, canonic transformations, maybe some other topics.
 
  • #9
dx
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I think both Goldstein and Landau are out of date for the more advanced topics such as canonical transformations etc. The treatments are clumsy and sometimes even wrong; it is better to use more modern textbooks like Arnold for these.
 
  • #10
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Goldstein covers better adiabatic invariants, canonic transformations, maybe some other topics.
Are these covered in Landau?

I think both Goldstein and Landau are out of date for the more advanced topics such as canonical transformations etc. The treatments are clumsy and sometimes even wrong; it is better to use more modern textbooks like Arnold for these.
Thanks dx, I'll keep it in mind. Is Arnold accessible to my level?

I disagree that the books are graduate level per se. Of course it depends on the person and on the country/university, but the first three volumes (which I know) should all be readable by a third-year (undergraduate) student. We used The Classical Theory of Fields in a third year course called Classical Field Theory, and I liked it very much.

The only cons in my opinion are the typesetting, the non-rigorousness of some of the used math, and sometimes a bit old-fashioned view. But they contain a LOT of fantastic material, which you'll hardly find anywhere else.
What material is in Landau that I couldn't find elsewhere?
 
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  • #11
George Jones
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I am curious. Did you cover Goldstein in order? How many chapters did you cover in the first semester?

With a couple of exceptions, we covered the second edition (1980) of Goldstein in order in two in 12-week semesters. Instead of Chapter 7 on special relativity, my prof, a relativist, gave his own (largely coordinate-free) treatment. My prof gave our class a choice: cover chapter 11 on canonical perturbation theory, or cover a special topic, spinors. We chose spinors. Chapter 7 of the second edition was the dividing line, but I can't remember whether we covered special relativity at the end of the first semester or at the start of the second.
I think both Goldstein and Landau are out of date for the more advanced topics such as canonical transformations etc. The treatments are clumsy and sometimes even wrong; it is better to use more modern textbooks like Arnold for these.

Arnold is certainly a classic, but, as a Springer yellow and white, I don't think that is appropriate for self-study for most third-year physics students wanting to learn classical mechanics. For self-study, Classical Dynamics: A Contemporary Approach by Jose and Saletan might be a nice compromise between a modern approach and accessibility.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521636361/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
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