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Mathematical methods books

  1. Nov 10, 2007 #1
    Can anybody recommend some mathematical methods books? I'm particularily interested in linear algebra and anything to do with quantum mechanics formalisms.

    I've looked at arfken, boas and riley but I can't decide.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2007 #2
    I like Riley better than Boas. You might consider looking at an appmath perspective book on the specific thing you want, e.g. linear algebra.
  4. Nov 10, 2007 #3
    Boas is the "bread and butter" I see a lot of people talking about. It was used in my classes, too.

    It's a decent book, but it just jumps in to all of the math... I mean... I guess that's what it would do, but if I hadn't had taken my Diff EQ, Linear Algebra, and Multivariable Calc classes, I would have been clueless...

    So I'd recommend getting up on your calc and linear algebra seperately before tackling some Boas...

    I don't know if there are any better books, sorry.
  5. Nov 11, 2007 #4
    Boas reads like stereo instructions. It's a good, rigorous, book, but if you're looking to self-study it's probably not the best. You'll probably end up knowing how to get through a problem mathematically without having a concrete understanding of what's going on. It seems like it's mostly useful for reference when you are trying to remember how to do math you haven't done in a while. I agree with Asphodel: if you have a few specific things you are interested in learning, buy a specific book rather than something like Boas which covers nine or ten very broad areas of mathematics.
  6. Nov 11, 2007 #5


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    I would recommend Boas without any hesitation, especially if all you care about is knowing the tools to solve physics or engineering problems. She lays out the "law", i.e. the region of applicability of the mathematics, and then shows you how to use it. For most students in physics and engineering, that's all they care about.

    If you read the introduction and the preface to the students of her book, you can clearly see where she's coming from and what the book is intended to do. She even said that it is meant only as a "sampler" (albeit quite a rigorous one) of the mathematics, and she gives references for students who want a further in-depth coverage of the mathematics. It isn't a book to learn mathematics. It is a book to learn HOW to use the mathematics to solve things.

  7. Nov 11, 2007 #6
    Thanks. I got Boas and Riley.

    I'm also thinking of getting a more advanced linear algebra book. I have "Introduction to Linear Algebra" by Norman from first year. And obviously I need this for my quantum mechanics classes.
  8. Nov 12, 2007 #7
    Two good linear algebra books are Linear Algebra by Hoffman and Kunze and FDVS by Halmos. At a level higher than this there is Advanced Linear Algebra by Roman.
  9. Nov 24, 2007 #8

    Chris Hillman

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    I really like the textbook by Boas, and second the recommendation of the linear algebra textbooks by Hoffman and Kunze and also Halmos. I'd add another which I think will be a very useful resource even for non-Maple users (but if you are not a Maple user, you really should become one--- it's not incompatible with using other software packages!): Richards, Advanced Mathematical Methods for Maple. Even that turns you off, at least learn about asymptotic expansions and perturbation theory somewhere else! These are really useful techniques which are overlooked in many "methods" books.
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