Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Applied Need to buy mathmatical background books for grad course

  1. Sep 12, 2017 #1
    In the syllabus of the class, it recommended three mathematical background books:

    Mathematical Methods for Physicists by Arfken

    Mathematical Methods in Chemistry and Physics by Starzak.

    Mathematical Methods in the physical sciences by Boas

    I don't know difference between these three. Any recommendations?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    While its not on your list, the Schaums Outline: Mathematical Handbook of Formulas and Tables is a definite keeper.


    Its cheap at $10-$20 and is very accessible and comprehensive for applied math and quite useful in a physics context. I would get the paper version too not an ebook version as I've heard that the equations don't render correctly and often get messed up or that its just hard to read the formulas on the screen.

    One other is Prof Nearing's book (free but seems to be offline perhaps affected by Irma):


    There is also a DOVER publication of the book:


    And lastly, Prof Kip Thorne's book (just published $120):


    and some more detail from Princeton Press:


    Of the books you mentioned, I like Arfken's book but I don't use it on a day to day basis and I did find a couple of typos in it that never seem to get fixed like every book seems to have. I've heard that Boaz's book is more approachable for undergrads but I felt the Arfken book laid out things structurally a little better.

    For Thorne's book, I've seen preprints that were available online. He said in the preface that he was aiming for a more geometric view of the subject which might make it more accessible than either Arfken or Boaz. Also it will have a more physics based scope.
  4. Sep 12, 2017 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Are these available in your library? Your prof may have even placed them on reserve. If at all possible, look at the books before buying. You might not need/want any of them. If you do decide to buy without reading, i recommend you get cheap used copies of old editions.

  5. Sep 12, 2017 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted