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Classical Landau vs Goldstein

Which textbook is better for an upper division course in classical mechanics - Goldstein’s book or L&L’s book?
 

Vanadium 50

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Are you going to be teaching this? If so, what is the background of your students. If not, shouldn't it be the one your instructor recommends?
 
Are you going to be teaching this? If so, what is the background of your students. If not, shouldn't it be the one your instructor recommends?
Not all textbooks are created equal, but Goldstein and Landau are famous for their clarity and insight, so no - I don’t see a problem with looking to supplement my course material with one of these books. Do you think you could answer the original question now?
 
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Not all textbooks are created equal, but Goldstein and Landau are famous for their clarity and insight, so no - I don’t see a problem with looking to supplement my course material with one of these books. Do you think you could answer the original question now?
I think you just answered the question.
 
I have both these books and followed them over many years. I have Landau in both English and Italian. I have Goldstein third and fourth editions. I will try to answer the question which to use for upper undergraduate courses. I take this to mean, a course in mechanics at the Junior/Senior level, after an introductory physics curriculum of Resnick/ Halliday or perhaps honors Kleppner/Kolenkov or Morin.

There is too great a leap from lower undergrad to graduate texts like Goldstein or Landau to recommend either.
A colleague of mine, a professional mathematician took graduate level mechanics without the undergraduate background and he learned the material, but he lamented that he struggled with relatively easy and straightforward classical mechanics problems that he would have had a lot of practice doing in the intermediate course. You can be successful in the course by the standards of the university, but it might not necessarily be good for you. Now for the books

Goldstein - A graduate physics classic. I have worn both my books to a frazzle, This is excellent, but I like the third edition better than the one that includes Chaos, and removes perturbation theory. My first exposure was with the second edition, and I think even the material included in the third edition might have been gratuitous.

Landau-Lifshitz: A good book but it far too terse. I find the other volumes in the LL series are far better. This one is the runt of the litter. Still this is a good book. I think a graduate course would need some material from classical theory of fields in Vol II. The problems are too tough for Junior /Senior level to profit from. They are tough enough to require more time. The (same) time could be better spent doing 5-10 Junior/Senior problems rather than 2-3 of these problems.

I would suggest a new book by Greiner Classical Mechanics. This is a book at the graduate level, yet at first sight it is more user friendly than the others. Using it for undergraduate is a reach, but it seems more viable than the others. Greiner claims he includes steps, because he always hated "it can be shown". I wish I could buy a copy myself without going mail order.
 

Vanadium 50

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Do you think you could answer the original question now?
"My servant! Attend me!" is not the best way to encourage people to help you. Expecting us to read your mind to figure out your background is also not the best way to encourage people to help you. Now that you seem to be saying your are looking for a supplemental text, why not both? Or neither if both texts are too advanced for you.
 
"My servant! Attend me!" is not the best way to encourage people to help you. Expecting us to read your mind to figure out your background is also not the best way to encourage people to help you. Now that you seem to be saying your are looking for a supplemental text, why not both? Or neither if both texts are too advanced for you.
I
I was being terse because I feel like I’ve had exchanges like this with you before, several times. It’s as if you enjoy coming on to my threads and just second guessing them instead of providing an answer, and regardless of your intentions it’s a little frustrating for me to have to justify the existence of my question to you and only you every time I post on here.
And I don’t know, I guess I could at least try both books when the time comes.
 

vanhees71

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LL vol. 1 is one of the best mechanics textbooks ever. No nonsense but Hamilton's principle right away. A big advantage compared to Goldstein is that he gets the anoholonomous constraints right ;-)) SCNR.
 

George Jones

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Which textbook is better for an upper division course in classical mechanics - Goldstein’s book or L&L’s book?
Actually (for me), this post does make it sound like you're an instructor trying to make a choice between these books as a text for a course. A minor change, "better for" to "better to supplement" would have communicated your intent somewhat better.

LL vol. 1 is one of the best mechanics textbooks ever. No nonsense but Hamilton's principle right away. A big advantage compared to Goldstein is that he gets the anoholonomous constraints right ;-)) SCNR.
Pretend that you can hold your nose with respect to this (i.e., it "stinks"). What do you think about Goldstein?
 

vanhees71

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Well, I think it's a bit overrated. It's not bad, but it's amazing that he got the anholonomous constraints wrong when treated with the Hamilton principle of least (or rather stationary) action, which is the most important concept of all physics if you ask me, while he gets it right with d'Alembert's principle and obviously not even realizing the difference. For classical mechanics, I'd recommend (in this order)

R. P. Feynman, Feynman Lectures of Physics vol. 1
A. Sommerfeld, Lectures on Theoretical Physics vol. 1
L.D. Landau, E. M. Lifshitz, Course of Theoretical Physics vol. 1
V. Arnold, Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics
 

Demystifier

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LL vol. 1 is one of the best mechanics textbooks ever. No nonsense
Well, I found one nonsense there:
 

vanhees71

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Sure, even in the best books are errors. Unfortunately I cannot find the quote by Feynman, where he writes to a student, who has complained, he got into trouble in an exam, because there was a mistake in the famous Feynman lectures. His answer was that it is the obligation of the scientist to be critical against any statement in books, papers, etc. no matter how ingenious the writer is.

Of course there are nuances in the types of errors.

(a) pretty good textbook (science as well as didactics wise) but has of sloppy errors; typos, misprints etc. That's the type of errors, which are inconvenient and sometimes drives you nuts, when you try to reproduce a result in the textbook (and as Feynman said, before using a result, you have to try to reproduce und check it carefully). This kind of textbook errors are nearly inevitable, and I'm pretty tolerant against them.

(b) textbooks, where at key points are conceptual errors. This is inacceptable, and one shouldn't use the book. In the case of Goldstein, I argue against its use, because it's even intrinsically inconsistent, or would you believe that you should get different equations of motion in Newtonian mechanics, depending whether you use d'Alembert's principle (in this case correctly) or the action principle (in this case used in a conceptually wrong way)? It's intended for beginners in the subject, and they shouldn't be hindered by such serious conceptual flaws.

(c) textbooks, which confuse the subject by "too much didactics". Instead of developing clear concepts they go light-heartedly over the issues. The worst category are books that intentionally avoid the adequate level of math, claiming as if this were a good pedagogical concept. The extreme case is a pest, known as "calculus free physics", a contradictio in adjecto ;-)).
 

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