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Programs Physics advice for math phd student

  1. Jan 19, 2010 #1

    I'm completing my phd in mathematics (number theory) within a year or so. I'm not sure I want to pursue academia and would like to work in the industry first. I'm interested in pursuing physics, electronics, and building things :) and was curious about working in a physics related job before deciding about academia. I haven't taken any physics courses, but have done functional analysis but no PDEs. I have two sets of questions and I apologize in advance for any overlap with other postings :)

    (1) I would like to start reading about classical mechanics (followed by EM, QM, Relativity, and so on). I'm looking for a good book that is mathematically more mature but would still cover what a first course would cover (perhaps more quickly). I'm finding that the books I pick off the library shelf are either "Second courses" which don't provide the intuition or enough basic examples, or are "First courses" which are too introductory. Currently I'm reading Marion's Classical Dynamics and it's an okay compromise, but I was curious if there was something better. The same question applies for EM, QM, etc.

    (2) This one may have been posted, but how much physics would I need to start in the industry and be useful. I'd be able to learn on my own additionally. Would one be able to get by with an undergrad level knowledge or would graduate courses be highly desired? Which courses?


  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2010 #2


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    There are a few textbooks of physics which are addressed to maths graduate students.

    In QM, I have seen just one such textbook which is called QM for mathematicians.
    In classical mechanics there's Arnold's classic textbook mathematical methods of classical mechanics, there are also some new notes from Darryl Holm which you can find in his website.
    In EM, I am not aware of a textbook which is for maths students, I guess everyone thinks Jackson's textbook (classical electromagnetism) is THE reference to be used.
  4. Jan 20, 2010 #3
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  5. Jan 25, 2010 #4
    Thanks for all the suggestions!

  6. Feb 7, 2010 #5
    For industry I think physics is probably just as useful as number theory (out of the frying pan into....). Number theory in it self is a large field but for the type of person who was interested in that field I would suggest learning stuff on optimization in particular "integer programming" that has good prospects industry wise and leaves the door open to comeback to academia (but you will go to an operations research/ industrial engineering group). good luck with whatever you decide
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