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Mathematics & Introductory Physics

  1. Oct 21, 2007 #1

    I'm currently a sophomore in High School, and have only just recently found a very strong interest in the workings of the universe. I've only taken up to Algebra (although I am pretty proficient with it) as far as math goes. I'm a relatively fast learner, and am interested in buying a few books on the subjects (budget is about $150USD for right now).

    Any recommendations on some books that will hopefully aid in teaching me some higher level mathematics and general concepts for physics would be greatly appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2007 #2
    geometry + algebra 2 -> trig/precal -> calc

    i don't know any good books below calc but for calc get calculus by michael spivak

    physics by halliday,resnick and krane is probably the best but brand new it's expensive as hell so i found you this one

    that's probably just the classical mechanics part so you'll have to find the electricity and magnetism book too.
  4. Oct 29, 2007 #3
    Please, whatever you do, do NOT get the Chabay and Sherwood textbooks on physics, I am using them in myfirst year and I absolutely hate them! Ok, they're not aweful, but they're not too fantastic either.
  5. Oct 31, 2007 #4


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    Do you have more specific (and more useful) criticisms and praises of the Chabay and Sherwood's texts?

    From what I can see, they are a refreshing [and, of course, aspiring to be a more effective] approach to teaching introductory physics. Certainly, since they are newcomers to that textbook style [as compared to the numerous variations on the Halliday & Resnick theme], there are bound to be some rough edges that will have to be ironed out.
  6. Nov 1, 2007 #5
    Well, sorry about that robphy. There are few people doing the same physics course as me that actually like the book (it's the prescribed book). I do not like the problems they give; I do not believe they are the correct level and they are too few. The programming problems are nice, but difficult if you have no programming backround, or even if you do. You'll need to consult the lecturer in that respect. Not enough worked problems, and I don't mean the type of problems that everyone can do, which are the ones they give. I do not like the excrutiatiang details they give, and I do not think they place the correct emphasise on topics. At the end of a chapter you have a vague idea of what you did and why. You often have to read a chapter 4, 5 times before you learn anything. The main ideas don't really come through.

    Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm stupid or just lazy, but that's what I think of the book. I have to add, after reading what I just said, it isn't that bad, I would rate it 70%-75%.
  7. Nov 1, 2007 #6
    And also, on Halliday; speaking to other people- third years etc- the book is good if you want to number-crunch, but ok if you want a deeper understanding and better grounding for higher physics, and I would agree from what I've read. It will get you through first year with no problem.
  8. Nov 1, 2007 #7


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    qspeechc, thanks.... that's a more useful set of comments.
    You might consider including these comments in an end-of-the-course survey.
    Since the number of users of C&S is currently small, your comments may get back to them...and may be useful to them.
  9. Nov 1, 2007 #8
    I get the odd feeling that you're somehow connected to the book. Or just helpful. I have already done the course evaluation, but there was no place to voice your opinion on the book, only the course in general, so I think I said something to the effect that it was ok (the book). I heard it through the grape-vine that C&S is the same book they use at MIT, just a rumour though...

    What seems to be the best introductory text, and quite unknown by the looks of things, is Alonso and Finn. Try googling it. Amazon.com gives it gleaming reports. Sounds like the ultimate physics text, but of course, I haven't read it myself.


    Cheaper than Halliday and Serway too, so it looks like the best buy, if you can get hold of it, otherwise I'd go for Serway, over Halliday, as I explained in post #6.
  10. Nov 1, 2007 #9
    Also, you might want to check out Young and Freedman, it gets mixed results.

    I guess the point is check out these books yourself, if you can,; by a library, preferably a university library, and see what YOU think of the books. Or just lend the books from the library and save your money.
    With $150, you could get one new book, so look into some second hand ones. Go to a second-hand bookstore. I love them! I spend a lot of time on them. You can find some real gems- from new ones to fantastic out-of-print books.

    As you can I thought about this a lot, and tried to give you a thorough answer, because I also snoop around for textbooks.
  11. Nov 1, 2007 #10
    Well it seems fine for introductory physics with calculus (currently what I'm using)
  12. Nov 1, 2007 #11
    Like I said, there probably isn't a definitive text on physics, or any other subject. You have to decide for yourself what you like. Better yet, read as many texts as you can.
  13. Nov 1, 2007 #12
    If only we had the money XD
  14. Nov 1, 2007 #13


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    I'm not directly connected with the text... although I have recently gotten to meet and chat with the authors from various AAPT and GRC events and from my working with VPython. When the text first came out, I was enthusiastic about it because of its new non-H&R approach and because of its attempt to visualize fields in three-dimensions. So, I am trying to be supportive of the their work.

    Alonso and Finn seems like a very good and thorough book. I have a copy that I refer to every now and then. I don't know why it isn't being used more.
  15. Nov 8, 2007 #14
    any suggestions on precollege math books?

  16. Nov 8, 2007 #15
    wait wait wait.
    i have been waiting and asking people wtf calc is like and everyone thats in it just says its hard. im like duh. well i guess i havent found anyone who actually understands calc and able to explain it.

    dam i loved geometry and algII is like fun...( couldnt find a good word)

    so f ya if calc is like allg II and geometry im set
    f ya i will be going to differntial equations and linnier allgebra later on how are those.
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