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Prerequisites for electrodynamics?

  1. Jun 13, 2013 #1
    Hi, i've had electrodynamics on my learning to do list for quite some time, but every time i start i get frustrated because it assumes prerequisite knowledge that i dont have.

    Last time it was integrals, so i learned integral calc, and i have vector calculus to learn as well, but im still confused as to where to find alot of the stated prerequisites, or which category they fall into.

    This is the list i am using for prerequisites: (under the mathematics heading)

    Half of that stuff i am aware is in my calculus book, but i am confused as to which topic would conventionally cover the other prereqs, i.e. laplace's equation, green's function, stokes' theorem, etc.

    It would be greatly appreciated if someone could just tell me the scope of maths i need to know to learn these prerequisites, i.e. "these concepts can all be found in linear algebra" or something.

    Also, if anyone knows any electromagnetics text that gives a ground up explanation, that would also be very useful :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2013 #2


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    That web site is for a graduate level course. Are you looking for graduate level electrodynamics, or undergrad level? If undergrad level, do you already know intro (freshman/sophomore) electromagnetism, or are you starting from scratch? If grad level, typical "mathematical methods" courses/books would cover Green's functions, how to solve Laplaces equation, etc., and indeed the typical physics graduate student has seen that material in one form or another during undergrad.

    I am only asking since you brought up calculus and no other math. If you just know basic calculus then the electromagnetism that you can reasonably learn is primarily at the intro level, from a typical general physics book (Halliday and Resnick, or any other that you may have or like). That is a good place for most of us to start anyway.

  4. Jun 15, 2013 #3


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    For electromagnetism you need vector calculus in Euclidean [itex]\mathbb{R}^3[/itex], i.e., you should now about the differential operators, div, grad, curl, and line, surface and volume integrals for scalar and vector fields. That's a lot of stuff to learn. A very good book is

    Richard Becker, Electromagnetic Fields and Interactions, Dover Pub.

    It contains a chapter on vector calculus as needed for E+M and is a classic text on the subject.
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