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Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 2nd Edition

  1. May 21, 2005 #1
    Is this book something a high school student could understand? I have no experience with calculus...
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2005 #2


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    I think a HS student could handle the first 3 chapters.But if you're not interested in trying (& hopefully succeeding) to become a physicist,then it's no point in adding it to your bookshelf.

    It's good.But for college.

  4. May 21, 2005 #3


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    No it's not. Read the introduction and preface. She's recommending it for sophomores and juniors AFTER one has had a full year of college calculus.

  5. May 21, 2005 #4
    do you plan on going into computational sciences in physics/chemistry/biology/math
    if so i suggest picking up a "Numerical Recipes in" C/C++/Fortran...Just to get started on your numericals engine earlier. If you just wanna do theory then I would wait for university plus that book is really OLD.

    I suggest picking up "computational Beauty of Nature" Gary Flake
    or a University INtro to Calc text firsT(ie James Stewart) or some newer Mathphys book
  6. May 22, 2005 #5


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    I'm sorry, but this is the silliest comment I've heard about the Boas text. It is "OLD"? For a math book?

    Anyone who has read my series on "So You Want To Be A Physicist" would have noticed that I could not recommend this text any stronger. I would stake my reputation as a physicist in insisting that ANY physics, or physical science/engineering student should get this text without hesitation. It is presented in a clear and simple manner that any student who has had a complete calculus course can pick up. It is certainly meant for students to use even on their own before the encounter the mathematics necessary in classes such as QM and E&M.

    I have recommended this text many times over the years, and EVERYONE so far has indicated how valuable this text is. It is extremely irresponsible for anyone to make uninformed comment such as yours simply based on its publication date (as if mathematics goes out of date) without even looking at the content. As someone who used it through my graduate school years, and continue to refer to it even as a practicing physicist, I would urge anyone who is majoring or thinking of majoring in physics to seriously consider getting this text.

  7. May 22, 2005 #6


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    In my opinion and from my short perusal of the description in
    https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262561271/002-3011901-6545641?v=glance , the "Computational Beauty of Nature" is interesting, but it is no substitute for Boas for studying standard undergraduate physics.

    The third edition of Boas (2005) is available now.

    (The only thing I didn't like about Boas' (2nd edition) text was that my book's binding broke. :frown: )
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  8. May 22, 2005 #7
    zapperz: my post implied merely that if he were wanting to pick up a book NOW that perhaps that book is not best suited for him (because it is rather old so would use terminology that he would not understood...and i did glance at the book) you yourself said that it was aimed for people in 2nd-3rd year university. Also there are some books today that not only give theory but also code(Landau & Paez) I think alot of science students today should have programming as a skill.

    Robphys: I suggested CBN for simulation sciences not for undergrad physics.
    the poster is after all a highschool student whom seems to want to study math, and perhaps but not necessarily physics. I wish i had CBN when i was going into university
    and it is the concepts of Computability that may be of interest to him.
  9. May 22, 2005 #8
    Well I now realize I'm going to have to wait on this book, but I'll make sure to put it on my list. As for the programming, I'm already a programmer and planned on persuing a career in computer science before I changed to physics. It's the math that I lack at the moment. Although, I'm not saying I know everything about programming. I'm going to look at the books you suggested when I can, neuro.

    Thanks for all your replies.
  10. May 22, 2005 #9


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    Thanks for that link! I had been wanting to get a copy of this book but I didn't realize a new edition was coming out. If anyone has the new edition, please let us know how it compares to the previous editions.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. May 23, 2005 #10


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    And you don't think I'm aware of that?

    Your advise was to ignore this text and pick up something newer, be it now, or later (would it be even "older" later?). No advise could be WORSE than telling someone that regarding this text.

    It is rather old and use terminology that he would not understand? Huh? Give me examples of the so-called "old" terminolgy. I've used this text extensively, even TODAY, and I haven't come across a single terminology that is out of date. And I have the 2nd edition AND the students solution manual sitting in front of me right now.

    Last edited: May 24, 2005
  12. Jun 7, 2006 #11
    Mary L. Boas book have been using as a reference book of lectures and students in university here
  13. Jul 15, 2006 #12
    Differences between editions:
    -Tensors are more throughly explained in chapter 10, also the section of Matrix Diagonalization is now part of chapter 3
    -Fourier integrals back to chapter 7, with Fourier series. Also, Laplace transform and Dirac delta are moved back to the differential equations chapter.
    -The probability chapter changes from 16 to 15 (since chapter 15 on integral transforms is now scattered around the book)
    -It's typed with LATEX!

    Overall, I feel the changes only made this text better. The ideas are more neatly tied up with the reorganization. Oh and, hello all, first post.
  14. Aug 3, 2006 #13


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    If you have had a linear algebra course, a differential equations course, etc... then is it perfectly fine to skip the corresponding chapters in Boas? On the other hand, Boas does have applications, so it's probably worth it going back to them.
  15. Aug 7, 2006 #14
    It is awfully organised. It might be good as a reference, but it is horrible for a text book. Definitions and theorems seems very unclear for me. The section of vector calculus uses old notations that works well only in 3ds. Lack of introduction nearly all topics. Just buy yourself a good linear algebra book by Horn and Johnson and Vector Calculus book.
  16. Mar 3, 2008 #15
    Solution's Manual

    Hi! I'm physics student, and I'm using the "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences" book, written byu Mary L. Boas. I don't complain about the text, but some explanation are really hard to understand. I have to keep a scholarship with an average of 90. I want to ask you if you know where I can find the solution manual for this book, to get a bit more of aid. I'm using the third edition, however, I heard that the second one is almost the same than the third edition.

    Could you help me?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2011
  17. Mar 3, 2008 #16


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    In my opinion, Boas is a most awesome reference book of important mathematical techniques ("tools") that are commonly required in nearly all fields of physics.

    I am taking a class (Math Physics) that uses it. It's actually not a required class for me either... I've mostly taken the class for the book (a fresh perspective on techniques never hurts either).

    If you're planning to be a physicist, I think this is an important book, but if you're still in High School, you might want to wait and see if a newer edition is out by the time you're taking courses.

    Alternatively, if you're planning on being a physicist, it would be nice to have Boas while you're taking the following required math classes (calc II, calc III, diff eq, applied analysis, complex analysis, linear algebra, and probably more) to accompany your math texts.
  18. Apr 14, 2008 #17
    I agree with most comments made, Boas is a GREAT book to have for a University level course in physics, I am a second year Physics undergrad and this book along with Jordan and Smith has everything I need for the first and second year math courses.

    But I do agree that for a HS it might be a bit too advanced to be worth buying now.
  19. Jun 18, 2008 #18
    The Boas book

    I am not in high school, I am much older than that, but I think the book would be great for a high schooler who uses books other than the usually lame books schools use. I won't go on a rant about state textbooks here but I recommend getting the book at a library before spending money on something one can't use.

    I have not attended college and I like this book. I have used one I borrowed from a library, the edition from 1983. Today I ordered one from Abebooks for $29.95 plus shipping and I know the list price is $130 or so. This is the 2005 edition. I will post if I receive the book and find it is not what I wanted, but I don't think there will be a problem since I ordered by ISBN.

    I have ordered through Abebooks before and have never been disappointed. Abebooks is sort of a clearinghouse that small book stores can use to sell books.

    So I would not say that it is a book for just college students. The author explains things really well.

    (Alibris is good too but I ordered this book through Abebooks)
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  20. Jun 18, 2008 #19
    If you want to be a physicist, and you have no experience with calculus... that's the math you're missing!!! Boas is an awesome book, and you should definitely get it. It might have to sit on your shelf for a bit though. Learn calculus. Immediately.
  21. Dec 12, 2010 #20
    Boas is a great book. It had I think the clearest explanations that I've ever seen when I was taking a Math. Phys. course a long time ago. Of course, there are many new, modern books on the subject but Boas will never get old :)

    Try learning from the ground up, using right elements on the right time. If you jump to a higher level you just build house of playing cards.
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